A response to Revamping a MOOC

Lisa has posted an important one on Revamping a MOOC http://lisahistory.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/course-recommendations-revamping-a-mooc/


I found her post so inspiring that I would like to respond to it here:

Hi Lisa,
This is an interesting debate.  I appreciate your, Bob’s and Jenny’s points on the course on restructuring and other comments. 
My point is: It’s really difficult to have a black or white strategy under connectivism – is it duality or plurality?  Are there any grey areas?
As mentioned by Jenny, a fully learner centered approach could be complex and chaotic.  I have used that in my on-the-job training and assessment in Distribution Centre Training.  Every learner becomes a leader.  They decide what, how, when, where and why they would like to learn them, all on an individual basis.  Every learning experience would be based on their needs, not mine.  I could be the guide on the side…
So, what make sense to the learner may not be what the instructor wants to do. And whether connectivism could really achieve this would depend on the learning paradigm adopted by the learner, not only the teacher.
For me, I take the stance of a learner (while I am a teacher by profession).  But I may not be connected to others, as others may be avoiding me as I am a “teacher”.  These are just my speculation.  With the same token, George and even Stephen took a stand-off role in some ways, to let go of the teacher’s hat.  But, what are the reactions of the participants? It’s a complex and emergent situation.  A structured course like this will suit someone like you, perhaps.  But, again under connectivism, a network or community of practice will suit a bigger “audience”.  Are we having the “right” audience or participants for this course?  Are we having the “learner centred” approach to “teaching and learning”?  This experiment has revealed part of the emergent phenomena.  Does it mean that we have to become “true” learners to appreciate connectivism?  Would you mind me including everyone, you, Jenny and me as true learners?  I am not sure whether Stephen and George would agree.  ??


Final paper on Connectivism – Part I – An exciting flight

You are invited to watch these videos on Youtube




 I still call Australia home


Here is my final paper on Connectivism-Part I.  I am doing all the assessments starting from the end, due partly to the time needed for reflection, but also my quest for a better version to be published to the public.

To address George’s questions

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

2.       How has this course influence my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?

3.     How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

4.    What types of questions are still outstanding?

May I start off with a metaphor?

Flight in search of learning experience with people and learning/educational  landscape

I have often liked to take flight to reach different places of the world.  This has widened my understanding of the knowledge, perspectives and habits of other people.  I could see the importance of social, political and cultural values, and habits of people in learning and education in this global village.

When I first joined this course, I found I was boarding a virtual flight on connectivism.  With a 2000 plus passengers on board, we were all ready for the take off.  At the start, everything seemed so smooth.  It was an exciting journey, so new to me, that I wondered if I have chosen the “right” flight. 

Then, here came the announcement of the chief pilots- George Siemens and Stephen Downes (G&S), that the flight was on time and on track.  And our plane climbed the heights (the connective knowledge, networks and history of networks sessions in 2nd, 3rdand 4th week) smoothly…. 

Then the Moodle, Blogs, Wiki, Daily, RSS, Facebook, Second Life etc. were all in place and I felt like connecting to the other passengers using the computer screens – the internet and the artefacts. And it seemed that we have all boarded on an actual plane, where we could connect and have conversation with each other.  Due to the friendly service of G&S, everything seemed nice and calm.   

Then there came a surprise announcement from a female co-pilot named Catherine.  We were informed that the course track wasn’t right.  Our flight was heading to the wrong direction! I was taken back by such a surprise notice. I thought it must be a hijack! 

I talked to myself: ’Take it easy, calm down”

With the courageous act of the two steering pilots G&S and few passengers, the voices seemed to calm down.  It wasn’t a hijack at all.  It was just a virtual game – to entertain us.  And we were told that we could enjoy our flight, and so just relax with our dinner.

Then, there came the turbulence, power in between the pilots and passengers, when I have to fasten my seat belt.  It was a bumpy ride, and luckily, I have got my gears ready, and so I was safe and sound.  On one occasion, I took the breathing apparatus to keep alive.  But after a few more roller coaster rides, the complexity and chaos theories, the jargons, metaphors on friction, pipes, etc. I managed to focus on my exploration.  I finally understand where I am, and who I am talking to. And I soon got accustomed to the flight.

Once we have moved to the 9th week, we were safe.  And here came

the landing in Week 12. Safe and sound landing on the wonderland of connectivism.

I am going to start my reflections by trying to answer these questions – but I may come back with further reflections in a later post.

1.       What is the quality of my learning networks: diversity, depth, how connected am I?

Throughout my journey here in this course, I managed to make a few strong “ties”, but most of the others are just “weak ties”.  In the moodle, I took an active part with a lot of co-learners.  I often interacted with Roy, Ken, Bradley, Dolores, Ruth, Jo Ann, Om, Pat, Mrs Durff, Jorge, Carlo, Jon, Sarah, Bob, Carlos, Frances, Catherine, Andreas, Ed, Lee, George and some others.  In the blogosphere, I often connect with various co-learners, like Jenny, Mike, Lisa, Tom, Maru, Ariel, Ailsa, Viplav, Dave and Keith, and many others. 

I managed to maintain conversation with more than 40 participants throughout the diverse network.  Gradually, I have to use RSS, Google Reader, Delicious, Wiki and blogs to keep up with the connections and aggregations.  I thought I have been able to connect with others without too much difficulties.  However, I also realised that it was a challenge in sustaining the connections due to two main reasons. First, any connection must start with a sincere intention, whether it is a post, or a response.  Second, reason and passion (and emotion) must be considered in a connection or interaction.   It really opens up my learning in that not only “like minds attract”, “unlike minds attract too”. 

I hope I could maintain such enthusiasm in connection even after this course, by taking an active part in blogging and response.

 2.  How has this course influenced my view of the process of learning (assuming, of course, that it has)?



I started off on-the-job training in 2000, and since then I realised our learners (including me) all learn in a diverse manner.  Learning from the instructor, peers, various artefacts mediated (resources, internet), work itself, etc.  Both formal and informal learning are important, in that they all contribute to one’s life long learning due to its emergent nature. From this course, I further realised the importance of emergent learning distributed throughout the networks, at neural, conceptual and social/external level. So, learning could be complex, and chaotic.  But out of all these came the emergent pattern, where one could find the order, the knowledge hidden behind – both the tacit and explicit knowledge in connections are important. 


Patterning of Knowledge and Wayfinding


This course has helped me in focusing on the pattern that lies behind those formal and informal learning.  I have gained a better understanding of the knowledge distributed in the network and in particular the artefacts and people.  Without such mining of distributed knowledge and learning, I would still think that knowledge could only be acquired.  I have also steered my learning in a different direction, with a focus on continuous learning via way finding.   

More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections that allow one to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways.  William Cronon, 1998 

3.       How can you incorporate connectivist principles in your design and delivery of learning?

I have already incorporated a number of principles in my design and delivery of learning at work.

These included:

·         Re-structuring the units of competencies that map the learners’ needs.  A complete learner centred approach towards learning

·         Design of Resources and Delivery of Learning –Resources were customised to each trainees’ needs – printed learner’s guides and assessment tools followed by mentoring visits and on-line session

Learning Management System (LMS) are structured: the Janison Learning Management System Tool box (similar to Moodle) with e-learning resources like virtual warehouse etc. and all powerpoints on lectures, activities and assessment tasks and quizzes are available in the LMS.

Further attempts include the extension of more blogs and wikis to support learning.

4.What types of questions are still outstanding?

·         How decisions could be made effectively in networks, given the diverse opinions and autonomy of the learners.

·         Explore the wider use of connectivism in a corporate training environment.  Is applied connectivism (such as Web 2.0) applicable to the training of CEOs and senior management?

·         What will be the use of connectivism in e-mentoring?

·         How will connectivism add values to teachers who prefer to teach in a face-to-face format?



What’s next for connectivism and connective knowledge?

Here is a talk by Mary Poppendieck on the Role of Leadership in Software Development http://au.youtube.com/watch?feature=user&v=ypEMdjslEOI Thanks to Jenny Mackness for showing the URL.
What are you building?
Three Stonecutters were asked:
What are you doing?

  1. I’m cutting stones
  2. I’m earning a living
  3. I’m building a cathedral

The suggestion by Mary was: Move responsibility and decision-making to the lowest possible level.

The Litmus Test: When workers are annoyed by their job

Under the same concept, when learners or teachers are annoyed by the “teaching and learning ecology”, what option will you choose?

Are you going to be the cathedral builder?

Some suggestions:

  1. May be we can do experiments
  2. Try innovative solutions – develop open course/coursewares, build networks, community of practice
  3. Be adaptable in learning new ICT tools via continuous personal learning and development – applied connectivism
  4. Go out and learn more – join communities, networks, open courses and forums
  5. Use creativity in building constant improvement both individually and collectively (connectivism and connective knowledge with brain power) with the exploitation of ICT (Web 2.0), networks, community of practice
  6. Leadership in place – every learner a leader – takes ownership in learning and teaching
  7. Network leadership – co-operation, collaboration  amongst networks, community of practice
  8. Research

Your suggestions….

May be a wiki to collect more ideas…

Or a set up of a community/network to continue our exploration on connectivism…