MOOC

Transparent Educative Experiences (#OpenEdMOOC)

In week 4 of Introduction to Open Education, the objectives are as follow:

  • Evaluate models of content creation and settings in which each is preferable

  • Explore the process of finding, assessing, and integrating OERs


Keeping these objectives in mind, I thought about presenting a slightly different perspective to a few points being made this week.  My points relate more to the first objective listed above: to evaluate models of content creation and settings in which each is preferable.  I would like to reference mainly Downes’s video and Wiley’s OER-Enabled Pedagogy.

Authentic vs. Non-Authentic Materials


The takeaway I get from Downes’s comments for this week is that there is a difference between what I would call authentic vs. non-authentic materials.  Downes argues for authentic materials - those created for real-life situations and not necessarily for teaching and learning purposes - to be used in a communicative context where interactions occur for a purpose.  He contrasts this with those non-authentic (didactic) materials that presumably are open educational resources (OERs) that are designed for teaching and learning purposes only.  Question...
Can OERs be authentic?

I agree that the educative experience is more important than the course content, teaching materials, or technologies alone, but how much weight do course content or teaching materials, etc. have when compared to the overall educative experience?  From a planning standpoint, what comes first, the experience (or performance) itself or the OER?  Should I assume that content creation relates to what teachers create for teaching and learning purposes and not what students create as learning outcomes?  Or perhaps both?  I wish I could substitute this paragraph with answers to these questions, but I can't at this point.

Choosing between authentic and/or non-authentic materials will depend a lot on the educational setting: teacher preferences and past experiences, group and individual profiles, school policy, availability of materials and technology, and overall culture. Thus, the original purpose of the OER or material, object, etc. is of lesser importance than how the OER is ultimately used (modified, mixed, distributed, or retained) given a new context. Perhaps it’s the learning outcome that matters more than whether the material is authentic or non-authentic (or open or not).

Terminology


Wiley came up with the term OER-enabled pedagogy because others could not reach a consensus on the meaning of terms like open pedagogy and open educational practices. But is reaching a consensus on how a community defines a term all that important?  I bet many taking this course have different definitions for MOOC, OER, open pedagogy, open educational practices, and even OER-enabled pedagogy.  Here are a few questions to illustrate this point:

  • What is considered massive?  Does a course have to be "massive" to be beneficial?  (MOOC)

  • What aspect(s) of the educative experience remains transparent: curriculum, assessment, instruction, student outcomes, etc.?  And transparent for whom: teachers, learners, community, local, global...?  And for how long and where? (MOOC)

  • Should authentic or non-authentic materials be used (see above)? OERs in the abstract (artifact) or those used in context (artifacts defined within a particular educative experience from both the learner and instructor perspective)?  (OER)

  • What remains transparent, teaching or learning practices?  Didactic materials (both OERs and Non-OERs), course content, learning processes, learner-produced products, or learning environments? (open pedagogy/open educational practices/OER-enabled pedagogy)


For this reason, I think it's helpful not to reach a consensus on these definitions because it forces educational stakeholders to use these terms by describing and explaining the unique contexts with which they are used.  Semantics (the meaning of words) really depends on pragmatics (how words are used).

If it had to choose a term, OER-enabled pedagogy, open pedagogy, or open educational practices, I would go general: transparent educative experiences. Let the context dictate the meaning.

Reflection


The first learning objective for week 4 - evaluate models of content creation and settings in which each is preferable - I find much more challenging than the second - explore the process of finding, assessing, and integrating OERs.  Any "model" of content creation would depend on school policy and (educator) culture, student body and culture, curriculum, assessment, instruction, and available resources like technology, etc. Before considering any "model", what's most important is that educators who are attempting to become more open, have various entry points possible.  For instance, perhaps it does not involve any OERs at all, simply sharing a teaching or learning experience that was challenging or successful might be the first step in becoming more open. This might later include adapting or adopting OERs as part of everyday practice... and so on.  Given this scenario, it's hard to look at this process as a particular "model" - but I could be wrong.  This is my current mindset as I continue to read and write about this topic this week.

Note: Images above show how I decided to gather my thoughts yesterday that led to this post: iPad Pro using Google Keep to take notes while watching YouTube videos in split screen.

OERs and Open Education: An Open Invitation (#OpenEdMOOC)

For week 3 of an Introduction to Open Education - #OpenEdMOOC, I decided to extend an invitation to my colleagues at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes to consider open educational resources (OERs) and to share how they might impact their own teaching practice.  I chose to share this video via Yammer and to also upload it to Microsoft Stream which both form part of an intranet for sharing and communicating within the institution.

This video was produced using LumaFusion on an iPad Pro before being uploaded to YouTube and Internet Archive under a Creative Commons license.

https://youtu.be/WOKCVGor7oQ

Open Education as a Precursor to Making Learning Personal (#OpenEdMOOC)

For week 3 of An Introduction to Open Education, I read, My Personalized Learning Experience (Week Three), after being prompted to do so from a recent Twitter exchange:



 

 

 

 

Personalized Learning, Differentiated Instruction, and Open Licensing

I have always been interested in how others see personalized learning and differentiated instruction in combatting “traditional” teaching methods.  Lifeexamined22’s post does not mention differentiated instruction, but instead addresses “personalized learning” - as a reflective process - which I would like to follow up on here.  I have spoken about the notion of personalized learning on prior occasions.

Why am I shifting away from traditional education and towards personalized learning?

Moving away from a traditional education is, generally speaking, a good thing... I’m just not sure how “personalized” this process ends up becoming simply by giving students choices in how they engage in their own learning trajectory. Teachers may employ a teaching approach that allows learners to choose between content, process, product, and/or environment, but the actions learners take represent any learning strategies employed to make decisions and to develop skill sets for a particular purpose. Making learning personal, then, is a collection of personal learning strategies intentionally imposed by the individual (or network), for the individual (or network), through a growing level of self-awareness as to how to best engage with ideas, materials, and others (a PLN).

Setbacks and Opposition

It’s possible that “setbacks” come from learners being inexperienced and unaware (i.e., metacognitive unawareness).  When using ICTs or social media in unfamiliar (learning) contexts, it’s possible that initially, students feel distracted, which can hinder the learning process for a period of time.  But it's never just the technology.  Technology often brings new forms of communication or engagement that is uncomfortable for the learner but still may be beneficial.  Technology can promote new relationships with other people that may be different in how ideas are exchanged and what additional ideas (concepts, conflicts, etc.) emerge.  When evaluating setbacks, consider the entire PLN as a whole since technology (materials) is only part of the issue.

If students are missing the lecture-based classes, it could be simply them getting used to a new way of learning.  It could be they were given no choice in the removal of the long lecture.  It could also be that a dynamic lecture - a talk broken down into shorter segments followed by some brief activity - works for some and not for others.  Regardless, the professor is not attempting to “personalize” learning, but rather is trying a new pedagogical approach that might (or might not) impact a learner's self-awareness of a PLN (i.e., making learning personal).  Stated another way, teachers cannot personalize learning for students; students can, however, become more self-aware of their own PLN that serves a particular purpose (e.g., learning objectives/outcomes).  Teachers can help learners develop this metacognitive skill through ongoing, transparent communication.

The best way to analyze student success is to understand the decisions and actions they took that led to some favorable outcome.  Students become aware of what they did and did not do, and teachers become aware of their part in this process and what they could have done differently.

Moving away from traditional methods of teaching (which is not all bad) has more to do with differentiated instruction (i.e., understanding the impact of student and teacher decision-making processes), awareness of one’s PLN, and personal reflection, and happens best when education remains open.  Transparency of teaching and learning occurs when stakeholders understand and engage with OERs and how they function throughout the network: 5Rs, Creative Commons, and Public Domain.  Understanding licensing is the foundation of making learning personal (as opposed to personalized).

Photo Attribution

Creative Commons and More (#OpenEdMOOC)

Below, I address copyright, public domain, and creative commons by discussing the following points, thinking mainly within the context of formal education:


  1. Effectively argue why protection of “intellectual property” is important and useful

  2. Explain the purpose of copyright (in the US)

  3. Critically evaluate the degree to which current copyright law appropriately balances limited incentives to creators and free public access to their works

  4. Define the public domain

  5. Describe the three components of a functioning Commons (An Introduction to Open Education).


Copyright (points 1, 2, & 3)


A copyright can be defined as “a government grant giving the copyright holder exclusive control over the reproduction of a literary, musical, or artistic work” (McAdams, 1995, p. 241). Clarkson, Miller, Jenna, & Cross (1992) define copyright slightly more broadly as “an intangible right granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions (p. 162). They go on to state that any works created after January 1, 1978 remain protected by copyright law up to fifty years after the author’s death; publishing houses retain copyrights for a period of seventy-five years from the date of publication or a hundred years from the date of creation, whichever is first; and works by more than one author retain copyright protection for fifty years after the death of the last surviving author (p. 163).


Regarding international protection, if any American writes a book, his or her copyright in the book must be recognized by every country that has signed the Berne Convention of 1886 (Clarkson, et al. 1992).   As of September 2016, there are 172 states that are parties to the Berne Convention, which includes 170 United Nations member states along with Holy See and Niue (Berne convention, n.d.). However, a solid international system of protection for intellectual property still is lacking and must rely on national legal systems for protection and proof of infringements, which still can be difficult to enforce (McAdams, 1995).


The government sees intellectual property as a form of wealth.  Like other forms of wealth (e.g., patents, trademarks, etc.), intellectual property then should have certain protections by law.  “Laws protecting patents, trademarks, and copyrights are explicitly designed to protect and reward inventive and artistic creativity” (Clarkson, 1992, p. 161). Thus, writers have the right to earn a living if there is a demand for their artistic creativity.  If writers did not have this right: that is, they were not allowed to copyright any work whatsoever, there would be less incentive for creating the work in the first place.  There remains an ethical and legal obligation for recognizing and protecting one’s original work when it comes to the creation of intellectual property.


Current copyright law does provide a defense for those who have unlawfully use copyrighted material.  Under the “fair use” doctrine (i.e., the Copyright Act of 1976), copyrighted material may be used if the following are considered:


  1. “The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

  3. the amount and substantial it’s of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work” (Band & Gerafi, 2013, p. 68).


Later, the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act, signed by President George W. Bush on November 2, 2002, improved the Copyright Act of 1976, and applies to 1) institutions which are accredited as a non-profit educational institution, 2) the use of works as part of mediated instructional activities, 3) the use of works limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class, and 4) the use of works either for ‘live’ or asynchronous class sessions.  If these criteria are met, then...


  1. instructors may use a wider range of works in distance learning environments;

  2. students may participate in distance learning sessions from virtually any location; and

  3. participants enjoy greater latitude when it comes to storing, copying and digitizing materials (The TEACH Act, 2011).


The 112 Congress of The United States provided further details regarding the TEACH Act depending on the particular purpose and context.


Although these provisions allow some flexibility in how copyrighted material may be used, copyrighting material is still limited when it comes to the use of textbooks and making education more open overall.  Distance learning environments under the TEACH act would need to be closed and restricted to a rather small group of learners to the extent that it ends up being virtually the same as a small face-to-face (more traditional) classroom scenario.  For this reason, alternatives to a more open learning environment are needed in order to make learning more equitable.

Public Domain (point 4)


“The term ‘public domain’ refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws” (Welcome to the Public Domain, 2017). Basically, no one owns a piece of work, nor can they ever own it... the public owns it.  Works in the public domain are the most open and flexible since permission is not required (nor is giving attribution) to reuse, revise, remix, and/or redistribute the work.

Creative Commons (point 5)


Under a Creative Commons license (CC), one can use the work of another without getting permission, as long as attribution is provided (i.e., giving credit to the author, creator, etc.).  Work under a CC can be for commercial or non-commercial purposes and CC can be applied to work that cannot be modified (i.e., non-derivative) or which can be modified.  Some work under CC can only be used if subsequent licensing respect the original CC type while other cases allow subsequent CCs to vary depending on the discretion of author(s).  A list of the CCs are as follows (most to the least open):


  • CC0 = Public Domain

  • CC BY = Creative Commons

  • CC BY SA = Creative Commons Share Alike

  • CC BY NC = Creative Commons Non-Commercial

  • CC BY NC SA = Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share Alike

  • CC BY ND = Creative Commons Non-Derivative

  • CC BY NC ND = Creative Commons Non-Commercial Non-Derivative (Creative Commons license, n.d.).


In summary, the three components to a Creative Commons license are 1) commercial vs. non-commercial, 2) share alike vs. non-share alike, and 3) derivative vs. non-derivative. It's worth noting that work in the public domain may be grouped and licensed together under a Creative Commons license (Welcome to the Public Domain, 2017).

Reaching out to the community...



  1. Regarding Americans and copyright protection covered by the Berne Convention, I assume expatriates (Americans residing outside of The United States) would enjoy the same protections?

  2. If anyone has a direct source listing the Berne Convention member states, please share by leaving a comment below.

  3. Admittedly, most of the sources in the copyright section are over 20 years old, so if any corrections are needed, please leave a comment below and changes to this post will be made.


Disclaimer


I am not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV - smile), so when making decisions about copyright and related protections, please seek the advice of a professional.  Although I feel that Creative Commons license is generally the best option for promoting open education, information in this post is for informational purposes only.  Making specific decisions about the best license will depend on the purpose and other considerations related to one´s own teaching and learning contexts: audience, distribution channels, local laws, etc.

References


Band, J. & Gerafi, J. (2013). The fair use/fair dealing handbook. Retrieved from http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/band-and-gerafi-2013.pdf


Berne convention. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 8, 2017, from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention


Clarkson, K., Miller, R., Jentz, G., & Cross, F. (1992). West’s business law: Text cases legal and regulatory environment. New York, NY: West Publishing Company.


Creative commons license. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 8, 2017 from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license


McAdams, T. (1995). Law, business, and society. Chicago, IL: Irwin, Inc.




Welcome to the Public Domain. (2017). Retrieved from https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/public-domain/welcome/


Photo Attribution (Select image.)

Finding Flow in #OpenEdMOOC

Whenever I begin a MOOC, it usually takes a few days to find flow - with #OpenEdMOOC, I'm getting there.  A bit of context, I am taking the course for credit (edX), but only enter to make sure I'm meeting course requirements.  I spend most of my time outside of edX because engagement feels more natural.

Here's my current work flow:

  • Respond to any Twitter notifications related to the course.

  • Refer to static note in Evernote with a clipping of course readings, etc. (An Introduction to Open Education). This allows for easy access since I spend most of my day in Evernote.

  • Check Twitter hashtag feed and respond directly when inspired to do so (try to do this at least once per day). This includes retweets, favoriting, quoting, and replying.

  • Check Twitter hashtag feed of any blog posts that are of interest.

    • Using Evernote, will share selected text from blog posts, leave a remark, and post to Buffer account to schedule future tweet.



  • .Publish to blog any initial ideas based on weekly topics.

  • Enter edX to post any links and contribute to discussions as required.


So far, this is working for me, although still just in week one.  Will see how it goes...

I am curious how others manage work flows for #OpenEdMOOC.

Image Attribution

Why Open Matters (#OpenEdMOOC)

 

[caption id="attachment_1685" align="alignright" width="150"] Attribution: https://goo.gl/images/2HT5iA[/caption]

Openness in education matters because it reveals how actors within a group or network interact with each other. Instead of thinking philosophically about what the term means, defining openness within a particular local context helps determine specific relationships between individuals, materials (i.e., objects, technologies, etc.), and ideas. Hatakka’s (2009) discusses obstacles teachers face at the university level when OERs are considered. This is likely to be the result of possible power relationships between those who make decisions about didactic materials and those who do not; relationships between ideas that teachers might have about what content should be included in the classroom; and which technologies should or should not be used to access certain content or contact with other individuals (e.g., relationship building). How open content is, then, depends on how purposeful human relationships remain, how transparent processes are, how accessible tools or technologies are, and how the integrity of ideas get shared among individuals.

As a matter of degree (ontologically speaking), openness is a result of a learning trajectory - one that can grow or diminish based on a continuous flow of associations between ideas, materials, and human relationships. Siemens, Downes, and others have mentioned connectivism (or connected knowledge) in similar terms (Connectivism, 2017), but I see openness (as a network) through the same lens: a historical context to understand purposeful (social, material, and ideational) associations occurring at any given time. Understanding current associations and their histories can yield insights into any future directions of openness.

Example A


Teacher A gets criticized for using too much technology in classes with students and when assuming leadership positions with (teacher) colleagues. Students don’t see the reason for using technology and colleagues have been just fine over the years working the same way (without technology) to “get the job done”. Technology (an attempt to work more openly) just seems like more work on top of an already busy work schedule.

In this example, openness matters because it forces students and colleagues to address all relationships between individuals, ideas, and technologies. In doing so, complaints extend beyond just being forced to use technology but may reveal other possible issues (and possible solutions) that plague the need for change. Thus, understanding openness makes it impossible to only blame technology without understanding the broader perspective, say relationships between teachers and administrators and certain ideas related to curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

Example B


Teacher B is not allowed to use open educational recourses (OERs) in classes because they are viewed as invalid and unreliable. Instead, the curriculum committee decided that the institution should adhere to (an expensive) textbook as the primary source of course content for the duration of the term.

Compared to example A, which is perhaps more of a communication problem, openness (and related issues) in example B is likely to relate more towards issues of power and prestige (politics). Teacher B may avoid employing OERs (or even learning about OERs) for fear of facing consequences if not complying to current institutional policies.

Openness matters because it forces educational stakeholders to address matters of equitable teaching and learning processes from multiple perspectives. It makes transparent how individuals engage with each other and the relationships they form; the ideas that are being shared between social relationships; and the where, when, and how these social relationships form based on the technologies and spaces that facilitate such awareness. Transparency helps to understand what openness is, and it helps to understand how the network forms. If there is any uneasiness about open education, it stems from confronting issues that naturally emerge from a continual sharing of ideas and experiences throughout the network. Hence, terms open and closed networks then fall on opposite ends of a dynamic and complex continuum. Depending on the context, an open network could be both a positive and negative pursuit (and vice versa). Are schools ready to go open? How might instructional leaders prepare teachers, students, and parents to be more open? How can schools evaluate whether becoming more open is effective, efficient, and engaging? One can agree that working towards becoming more open is a good thing while at the same time realize jumping suddenly into open territory without a network that is prepared for it can have a negative effect.

Openness matters because it becomes an exercise in exploring Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) six facets of understandings: one can explain, interpret, and apply; one has perspective, empathy, and self-knowledge. To understand open education is to be able to utilize these six facets within specific contexts, and then share this knowledge with those from different contexts so that the generalities of openness in the abstract don’t become a distraction.

Openness Matters (#OpenEdMOOC)

Jenny Connected asks,
What are your thoughts on what appears to be a course about cMOOC principles being offered as an xMOOC?

I will discuss my thoughts by addressing a few comments made by Jenny Connected...
I don't think George and David have claimed that this is a cMOOC have they... It may be that George and David are simply making use of a ready made platform for structuring their course, in the same way that CCK08 used Moodle, but that the course activity will be distributed across blogs, twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

This seems to confirm that this course is designed to be some combination of both and xMOOC and a cMOOC, whether explicitly stated or not. I agree that any course offered through edX can potentially be both an xMOOC and a cMOOC, but am a little surprised to see them listed as instructors in an edX course, that's all - no value judgment, just saying.
I don't think cMOOC principles necessarily fully equate with open education... it might be one of the reasons I feel increasingly uneasy about open education.

I am not sure I follow... what MOOC principles fail to align with open education? And which of them causes one to feel "increasingly uneasy"? I'm thinking of the following MOOC principles in particular: meaningful, engaging, measurable, accessible, and scalable (Drake, O'Hare, & Seeman, 2015). I view these five principles as iterative and reciprocal: engagement depends on accessibility, learning analytics depends on scalability, etc.
This course is being offered on a platform that is usually associated with xMOOCs, but this doesn't mean that it is being offered as an xMOOC.

I agree, but it also does not mean that it is not being offered as an xMOOC. And since edX courses are usually associated with xMOOCs... Again, when I imagine a MOOC being offered by Wiley and Siemens, the last place I think about is edX (or any other LMS). I doubt edX is really needed to market such a course given the following both educators have.
I'm not sure who owns the data that will be generated on the EdX site...

Good point. It's also not apparent who will be generating most of the content and how, when, and where it will be delivered, furthering the ambiguity between where the course will ultimately fall along an xMOOC-cMOOC continuum. For instance, will I gravitate towards the edX platform, elearnspace, or somewhere else? Potentially each with their own content licensing agreeement?  Because the course is being offered in edX, however, it seems possible that some amount of content will remain under edX's own licensing agreement (along with participant interactions?), which I assume differs from the freedoms offered with a Creative Commons license?

I have nothing against an xMOOC nor a cMOOC (or anything in between); both easily can coexist based on the type of course, instructors, and learning preferences of the participants. I can see why offering a MOOC in edX might reach more individuals (than say a private Moodle website) and at the same time, allow those who need it, a certification for having completed the course.

But openness matters in a MOOC. The degree a course remains open influences how participants engage with both content and each other. The technologies that are used, when and where engagement occurs, and types of social (human) interactions that emerge collectively evolve based on how open a course ends up being. A simple example is comparing those seeking a certificate of completion with those who are not. Usually certificates are awarded based on a single set of objectives that may or may not be the same set of objectives one would normally choose if obtaining a certificate were not desirable. Meeting one set of objectives in order to get a credential can influence the technologies used, when and where engagement occurs, and the types of social interactions that are required. Thus, because one seeks certification, the course becomes less open (i.e., contrived). Thus, openness matters to the degree one recognizes personal learning objectives (or outcomes) that were either predetermined or emergent throughout the learning process.

The best kinds of MOOCs are those where participants themselves create most of the content and discussions. Instructors add value when they are able to navigate and curate emerging content so that it is becomes more easily obtained and understood by all. A MOOC can have starting and ending dates, but the resulting interactions and outcomes from the MOOC remain as a digital "footprint" for all to witness - an artifact that could also be contributed to afterwards as well. This degree of openness and the desire to leave something behind can motivate one to participate (to the degree that individual objectives are recognizable), but becomes a challenge anytime a learning management system (LMS) becomes a mandatory part of the learning design - not saying this is the case here with edX.  This leads me to the following question:
Is it possible to receive a credential (credits, certificate, badge, etc.) for having completed a MOOC without using an LMS?

The reality is that some prefer using an LMS while others do not. MOOC designers will need to account for this by determining how open the course could potentially be.

This is what I'll be reflecting on as I take this course: how the degree of openness impacts decision-making processes around licensing, open educational resources (OERs), and learning analytics.

#OpenEdMOOC Opens in October



Yesterday, I learned about the MOOCIntroduction to Open Education course, per Jenny Connected (via Twitter) - #OpenEdMOOC. With most MOOCs that I have taken part in, I am more interested in what the participants of the MOOC have to say than I am in whether or not I achieve stated objectives. Clearly, the instructors have a following for a reason but I have often learned more from the concatenation of MOOCs than from any one-to-many, broadcast spray of information intended to inform a public audience.

Another thing that caught my attention was that this course - apparently about cMOOC principles - was being offered as an xMOOC.
Will the way the course is being delivered align with the learning objectives of the course?

I am also curious whether or not I will lose interest in the course like I am known to do when taking a MOOC of this kind. From the scant amount of information found in the syllabus, there is little in the way of essential questions that foster critical or creative thought that might help in this regard. Perhaps the idea is to allow critical inquiry to emerge over time, which is also an approach.

As always, I am more interested in the design and delivery of the course and how participants interact than anything else.  The MOOC experience has always been a metaexperience for me, and one that invariably trickles over into my own teaching practice (for better or worse).  Hopefully there is room for Wiley and Siemens (the course instructors) to share some insights along the way into how they chose to design and deliver the course in this way, and how MOOCs might live in both formal and informal educational contexts.

Photo Attribution


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Defining MOOCs...if we must

MOOC Definitions
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) published Making Sense of MOOCs: A Guide for Policy Makers in Developing Countries (2016) where they define the term, Massive, Open, Online Course (MOOC). They preface the definition by admitting that how one defines the term is open to interpretation, and go on to state that their approach in reaching a definition was to consider a variety of prior definitions first, then present commonalities in ascertaining what they mean by massive, open, online, and course (p. 17). Since defining a MOOC is open to interpretation, I offer an alternative definition after presenting how UNESCO and COL define each of the four facets. I include italicized text where I feel there are shortcomings in UNESCO/COL's interpretation and attempt for mass appeal. When planning, implementing, and evaluating a MOOC, definitions do matter, but admit that reaching a consensus about a single definition is not all that important. My thoughts on the matter are what crosses my mind when I am confined to using such a nebulous term.

The itemized list below is how UNESCO and COL define massive, open, online, and course (p. 17):
  • Massive: designed for, in theory, an unlimited number of participants. This means that the course is designed such that the effort required to provide all services does not increase significantly as the number of participants increases.
  • Open: access to the course is free, and there are no entry qualifications.
  • Online: the full course is available through the Internet (using a laptop or desktop computer, a tablet computer or a smartphone).
  • Course: the offering is a course, meaning that it offers a complete learning experience — i.e., it is structured around a set of learning goals in a defined area of study and includes the course materials, assessment tools such as quizzes, feedback, an examination and a certificate of completion.
I particularly like how they define online when they say the course is available through the Internet and not that it is necessarily delivered through the Internet (although it often is). But I view the other three definitions from a slightly different perspective. I define each and then provide a rationale as follows:
  • Massive: The course is designed to be scalable; it has less to do with an actual number of participants and more to do with the potential to educate. The course is designed such that the effort required to deliver the course does not increase significantly as the number of participants increases. Rationale: A MOOC, even in theory, is not designed for an unlimited number of participants based on much of my explanation related to the term course (see below). One should not expect that a MOOC of any kind provide all services to the educative experience, even if the term all services could possibly be defined. Trying to come up with a magic number that defines "massive" misses the point: MOOCs are scalable when it comes to the potential of having a larger number of participants interact without changing much in the way the course is planned and implemented (from a learning design perspective). Of course the implementation of the course (from the learner's perspective) will vary greatly when more participants are engaged, but it does not relate to the effort course designers or instructors put into the course per se. The higher number of participants, the higher learning potential, and the greater level uncertainty or variation into types of assessment and engagement. Uncertainty and variation depend on the degree of prestige and power potential (as social networking concepts) course creators have with the target audience.
  • Open: like any open educational resource (OER), access to the course and any subsequent engagement throughout the course may be "retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed" by anyone (p. 20). Rationale: The term free (as in free beer) is irrelevant because learners may still participate in a MOOC but pay a fee in order to receive more direct feedback (e.g., as one might expect in formal education situations) or they may not pay for the course and rely on emergent feedback that is more dependent on the learner's personal learning network (PLN). Feedback (i.e., formative and summative assessment) coming from a learner who pays for the course usually comes from an educator from an institution who then accredits the learner for having participated in a MOOC, likely engaging with other accrediting and non-accrediting learners alike. The attributes of a MOOC are independent to whether the learner pays for the course or not. Also, stating that there are "no entry qualifications" is misleading if 1) the learner needs to take the course and get accredited (when receiving accreditation is for a fee); 2) the learner fails to have the appropriate readiness level or prior knowledge to begin or to complete the course; 3) the learner does not have the technological wherewithal to access a course available online (e.g., Internet connection, hardware, software, etc.); or 4) the learner does not have the appropriate habit of mind (or metacognitive skill sets) necessary to begin or complete the course (e.g., navigating course content, online engagement, etc.). Depending on the target audience, these considerations may need to be addressed at the beginning of the course in order to make entry qualifications explicit.
  • Online: Course is available publicly online. Rationale: Fine for a general definition but would need to be clearer depending on the context. Some discussion of blended or blended online learning would more than likely be necessary and would directly link to the entry qualifications mentioned above.
  • Course: the offering is a course, meaning that it has a set of course objectives around a particular domain that includes either a recommended or required (synchronous and/or asynchronous) timeframe to complete learning outcomes. Rationale: Of the four facets, this is the one that misses the mark the most. In no way is a MOOC a "complete learning experience". When compared with the learner designer, there is greater potential for the learners themselves to create an educative experience by using a PLN for a particular learning purpose within the context of the MOOC. The learning experience comes from learner decisions (based on both course and personal learning objectives) as to how to interact with the content and with others; it does not come from instruction and differs from differentiating instruction. And a MOOC does not inherently include all course materials and assessment. Course materials used in a MOOC come from learner decisions to one's PLN and may or may not be part of any course content provided by learning designers. And assessment relates to the rationale provided above under open. Assessment for non-accredited learners will depend a lot on how the learner interacts within the individual's PLN, and subsequently will receive forms of assessment on a complete voluntary basis (presumably formative assessment over summative assessment). Assessment for accredited learners (who usually pay a fee) is typically more adopted and adapted to the learner's needs, wants, and hopefully learning preferences, and although should include good amounts of formative assessment can be assured to receive some form of summative assessment. Calling this kind of educative experience a course though does not mean that all forms of assessment are inherent or guaranteed which could be a reason for the low completion rate around MOOCs.
If one is to make sense of MOOCs, then one needs to understand what it is under the particulars that make up the educative experience. For me, it's still all about SCHOOL!

Photo attribution

How can assessment and instruction live as one? (#eduquestion)

[caption id="attachment_1148" align="alignright" width="300"]Attribution: https://flic.kr/p/d43JtU Attribution: https://flic.kr/p/d43JtU[/caption]

During I have a question #2 (see video below), several questions were addressed (using the Twitter hashtag #eduquestion); one in particular that I posed and one which I would like to discuss in more detail here was, How can assessment and instruction (and not accreditation) live as one within an online course?

When I say, accreditation, I mean receiving grades, diplomas, certificates, etc. in formal education; and badges, certificates of completion, etc. in informal education.  Albeit important, I'd like to exclude the topic of accreditation from what I'd like to cover in this post and also will not need to make any real distinction between informal and formal education as I think my overall thesis applies to both.

TeacherRefresher presents a concise outline (PowerPoint presentation) of the differences between assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning.  If assessment and instruction are to live as one, some combination of these three types of assessment usually exists.

In an online learning environment, assessment of learning might be receiving constructive criticism from one's peers or outside experts (not just the instructor, trainer, facilitator, etc.) pertaning to what a learner understands (content) and can do (process and product).  Making the learning process as transparent as possible yields (i.e., through online blended learning scenarios) more dynamic interaction where assessment of learning can more effectively take place.

Assessment for learning can be linked to assessment of learning by allowing the instructor to reflect on learner progress to see what future changes in learning designs or instruction are needed, and what learning tactics are needed on the part of the student.  Perhaps a new video or different problem-solving activity is in order.  Maybe a subsequent review or more didactic learning session is required.  It's been my experience that any changes to a learning design and/or learning tactics be considered as a negotiation between instructor (trainer, facilitator, etc.) and learner through ongoing reflection (i.e., reflection-in/on-action).

Assessment as learning takes summative and formative assessment one step further by allowing learners to begin the process of matching individual goals with institutional or organizational goals (e.g., syllabus, curriculum, company mission/vision statements, etc.).  For instance, online courses with the various social media tools available allow learners to more actively design their own rubrics (as assessment tools), which in-and-of-itself gives learners a chance to interact and think critically about how they learn best, and how to best approach their individual weaknesses.

In all three examples - assessment of learning, assessment for learning, and assessment as learning - instruction is "baked in".  Many of the open, online courses that I have experienced (we used to call them distance courses before MOOCs came along), learners really had to take it upon themselves to see how these three types of assessment fit within their own learning experience - course facilitators tended to lecture and attendees conducted discussions as they pleased.  In formal educational settings, assessment (along with accreditation like grades etc.) is typically forced onto the learner, which too tends to interfere with finding the right mix of this assessment trilogy.

Regardless if in a formal or informal educational setting, recognizing that assessment and instruction are not mutually exclusive but rather reciprocal and iterative throughout the learning experience does away with the antiquated notion that instructors must first teach learners (or students must learn something first), then assess what students (theoretically) have learned later (i.e., two separate and isolated processes).  Online learning, with its inherent potential for interaction and transparency, embraces assessing of/for/as learning so that both intentional and incidental learning can emerge in more effective, effecient, and engaging ways.

What do you think?  How does assessment and instruction intertwine within an open, online course?

http://youtu.be/Mis6lkpBYqU

Is the issue really about control, #MOOCs, and platforms?

After reading Keeping Higher Education in Control of Higher Education, I immediately thought of a phrase commonly used in Mexico: ¿y que?

I certainly appreciate Winkler's (2013) take on the issue of control, but I'd like to try to unpack her perspective in order to offer an alternative point of view.

The article seems to pose the problem being about control. Who has control of content that is being delivered (presumably to the public) online?  The universities? Or the third-party platform providers (i.e., for-profit businesses)?  The argument seems to be in favor of the universities with the Miles Coverdale quote at the beginning of the piece, yet seems to switch to platform providers by the end of the article: "...a withdrawal of courses [from a platform provider] created by the top universities...could be fatal".  So, who should have control?

Another thing that muddies up the argument is the use of the term MOOC.  Just as an experiment, read the article again but this time when MOOC is used as an adjective ("MOOC backlash"), remove it entirely.  And when MOOC is used as a noun ("...if MOOCs had started...") simply use either "open course" or just "course".  When I did this, I quickly realized that the main point was between technology, material objects, platforms, etc. and educational institutions, academia, scholars, and in-house public relations.

Now, the first sentence of the article suggests that universities do not need platforms.  But as I reflect back on my experiences as an educator and learner, I don't recall ever seeing a university that offered a distance course that did not use a third-party platform: Angel, Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, etc.  Granted, these days we can include Coursera, Udemy, etc., but the difference here has more to do with degree of openness than it does about control over course content (universities or platform providers).  Not using a third-party platform would be like using a specific in-house LMS especially designed for the institution.  I'm not saying that they don't exist, but I've never seen or used them.

Instead of using the term MOOC platform, let's refer to them as business platforms (BPs) in order to distinguish something like Coursera, Udemy, even YouTube from Moodle or Canvas, for instance.  I would assume (and Winkler would know better than I), that Coursera has some sort of business plan or model from which to work with while Moodle, at the opposite side of the spectrum is simply an open source LMS.  When a university decides to offer a distance course, the platform they decide to use should align to the institutional policy that mandates who owns course content.  In some cases the institution owns the content, other times the educator owns the content. Whatever the policy, the BPs or open source platforms like Moodle must align with institutional policy, most likely by both parties signing a binding contract.

I don't think the problem is about control at all.  I think it's how institutions find value in the way they choose to deliver distance courses.  Which platform or combination of platforms adds the most value, both from an economic standpoint and an educational standpoint?  If institutions find ways to deliver distance courses in a way that adds both economic and educational value to the learner, who's going to argue against replacing faculty (besides the ones getting fired)?  I would rather avoid hyperboles like "...replacing faculty with cheap online education", and instead discuss how platforms become a natural extension of the entire institutional infrastructure that adheres to the mission, vision, values, and goals of the school.

The phrase ...y que... in Spanish means, So what? Winker's piece allows for a serious discussion that needs to be addressed with regard to institutions, platforms, etc., but I ask, So what if educators are not realizing the need to hone knowledge and skill sets in order to be more competitive?  So what if universities use Udemy as their platform for delivering distance courses?  So what if institutions use YouTube?  So what if BPs take over ownership of content due to poor planning on the part of the university (and I'm not saying that this is happening, although it could)?  My attempt here was to try to unpack these "So what?" questions by following them up with a simple (yet complex) notion that institutions, educators, and platform providers will co-exist if each takes a critical and honest look at how to plan and compromise for the betterment of higher student achievement.


MOOCs: Still not asking the right questions (#MOOC, #tillben)

Although I can certainly appreciate studies and discussions around MOOCs (such as Why 72% of Professors Won’t Give Credit for MOOCs), the tendency is to still ask the wrong questions.

The only aspect of a MOOC (or massive, open, online course) that most educators can agree on is delivery.  Virtually everyone agrees that if a course is labeled as being a MOOC, that the course is being delivered online.  This is basically where it ends when it comes to agreeing on what the notion of a MOOC is supposed to be. There seems to be vast interpretations as to what massive, open, and course actually mean when putting a MOOC into practice.  Let's consider a few questions:
  1. How many learners are required when taking a MOOC so that the experience becomes sustainable, scalable, engaging, effective, and efficient for each learners?
  2. How many learners are required so that groups (clusters) naturally form based on the interests, needs, and learning preferences of each learner?
  3. Are course materials licensed under a commercial or non-commercial Creative Commons license? Certainly there are other relevant questions pertaining to share alike, derivative works, etc., but there seems to be quite a division between those who support commercial and those who support non-commercial open educational resources (OERs).
  4. How should open authorship from MOOC learners be licensed (e.g., commercial or non-commercial)?
  5. What type of educational platform (if any) should be used to host a MOOC?
  6. How long should a MOOC last?
  7. Should credit be given to the learner by an accredited institution for completing the MOOC?
  8. How should assessment factor into a MOOC (both for those credit-seeking students as well as non-credit-seeking students)?
  9. How can synchronous and asynchronous forms of communication produce the ideal learning environment for a MOOC?
  10. What learning theory or theories are most appropriate when it comes to implementing a MOOC?
When we ask professors who are teaching MOOCs these types of questions, we miss the point. Let's take one question as an example,
Do you believe students who succeed in your MOOC deserve formal credit from your home institution? (72% said no)
Asking this question in isolation does little to gain insight into properly interpreting the response.  We might be better off if we cluster this one question around the following set of questions,
  1. Are you a tenured teacher?
  2. How long have you been in the teaching profession?
  3. How long have you been working at this institution?
  4. Have you ever held an administrative position?
  5. Have you ever taken a course online?
  6. Do you use social media to assist your own learning?
  7. Do you use social media to assist your teaching practice?
  8. What type of technical support is available at your institution?
  9. What type of pedagogical support is available at your institution?
  10. Is the MOOC you are teaching included in your teaching contract?
 The answer to the last question is key.  Imagine an educator who teaches a MOOC as part of their teaching contract believing that their students should not receive formal credit for completing the course. 

Let's avoid asking whether MOOCs are a fad or trying to understand where we are on the life cycle of MOOCs because the best we've done so far in labeling the term is to categorize them as being cMOOCs and xMOOCs.  In other words, we are trying to reach conclusions and make generalities of a term (i.e., MOOC) that is to date, hard if impossible to define.  We need a broader lexicon or a more descriptive way of labeling the different types of MOOCs based on learning theory, forms of communication (asynchronous/synchronous), and delivery (online/face to face), among others.  Using a blanket term like MOOC does little to add to the conversation unless it's followed by some of the more detailed questions presented above.  These questions are only the beginning and will depend in large part on the local context and problems that are unique to the learning environment of local stakeholders. 

More studies are needed in order to better understand which facets of a MOOC work and which don't (at the local level) so that over time we may begin to see patterns that can be transferable to other contexts.  But we are not there yet, and will never get to this point if we continue asking the types of questions presented in the Chronicle.  Posing such questions shows a lack of understanding of the complexities that make up a typical teaching and learning environment.

Education should not be a popularity contest

My smallest spinach plantThe thesis of Academic Rock Stars and Curriculum DJs is that ...new rock stars are being created and nurtured by the breakthroughs in massively open online courses (MOOCs) I would like to offer a slightly different perspective.


1. When drawing comparisons between "music rock stars" and well-connected educators, Microsoft Research's Daniel Reed poses a "culturally simple" question:  
As a student, would you rather take a required general education or specialty elective course from one of several internationally rated instructors and/or lauded scholars, or be constrained to the pedagogical skill and intellectual acumen of the professors at a single university?"

Albeit a simple question to ask, answering it is quite complex.  Many assumptions are embedded in the original question that can lead to misconceptions.  (i) Students who choose a professor at the attending university are choosing a professor who is not connected to the outside world, fails to offer classes that connect students to the outside world, and fails to use blended learning or online blended learning as part of their teaching and learning methodology.  (ii) Choosing an "internationally rated instructor" inherently correlates to an academic's "rock start" (i.e., popularity) status.  (iii) An internationally rating system for instructors is valid, reliable, and unbiased.  And (iv) popular academics are inherently better than unpopular academics.  

2. What Salman Khan of Khan Academy did was fundamentally flip not only the classroom, but also the economic model of higher education.

Salman Khan does not flip a classroom by simply delivering small chunks of information online.  Educators flip their classrooms if their synchronous learning experiences become more dynamic and authentic as a result of their respective learners spending more time outside of class learning new information asynchronously.  This alone does not answer additional questions that relate to the complexity of successfully flipping a classroom.  

  • How much information learners access asynchronously is new and how much acts as a review of something they have already seen? 
  •  How do understandings from information accessed asynchronously enable learners to perform in authentic performance tasks in the presence of the educator, classmates, and other involved actors? And how much of this process is dependent on the course, teacher preference, and student profiles?
  •  How do learning outcomes differ between taking the exact same context and comparing a traditional class with a flipped class? As if...
Final point.  To understand the concept of a flipped classroom is to understand the relationship between the asynchronous and the synchronous forms of communication, the way content is being delivered, and the learning theories that apply to any particular educational context.

3. The business possibilities are endless...

Why discuss business opportunities when the point seems to be about how abstract concepts like MOOCs and the flipped classroom are changing how learning will occur in higher education.  Any business solution is as complex as any solution related to learning.  Ok, so there are more choices for informal learning for educators...y que?

4. The immediate future of MOOCs may be uncertain...

This is where trying to define a MOOC becomes problematic.  Just try defining massive, open, and online, and one begins to see whyWhile we're at it, try defining terms like course, class, syllabus, lesson, lesson plan, etc.  Defining abstract concepts can sometimes overshadow the complexity of understanding these terms in any practical sense.  But realizing the infinite number of possible meanings of these terms, my guess is that "open, online courses" will become more ubiquitous as they become less "massive".  That is, the size and popularity of the MOOC alone will say little about how formative assessment promotes learning.

5. ...one thing is clear – the world of higher education is changing in ways that we never could have imagined.

Is this really that clear?  I think what's clear is that institutions in higher education will embrace or be forced to take advantage of the opportunities that informal learning has to offer.


6. By 2020, we could be on the way to embracing continuous, lifetime learning for everyone in society taught by the world's greatest academic rock stars. 

Gee, I certainly hope not - I prefer jazz over rock any day.  Seriously, lifelong learning exists due to the number of choices that are currently available for informal learning.  These choices will continue to grow, but academic "jazz stars" will be defined by the learner and will not simply be based on a popularity contest.  Learners will search for educators that serve them best and may not be based solely on the educator's number of followers. 


7. New curriculum DJs - who are able to mix-and-match course offerings for specialized degrees - may emerge, selling their digital wares on iTunes.

The future business model of education will be those frameworks that lead to the most engaging, effective, and efficient educative experience for the largest number of learners possible - a claim that warrants a separate post so to cover some of the many variables involved.

The whole point here is not that teaching in many cases is (or could be) free (as in free beer); it is not about the amount learners should or should not pay for an education.  Free education deals more with perception, accreditation, future educational and professional goals of each learner, etc.  Instead, what is more relevant is  how open teaching and learning emerge - understanding the infinite number of ways ideas, materials, and people relate to each other regardless as to when and where these interactions might take place.






 

Asking Why Instead of How (#Change11)

How to balance soft and hard technology?


Soft technologies are flexible, supporting creativity and change, because the gaps inside them have to be filled with processes constructed by people. They are needy and incomplete until people fill the holes, while hard technologies contain within them the processes and methods to achieve the ends for which they were designed [emphasis added], bring efficiency, scalability, replicability, freedom from error and speed.  Conclusion: "Most learning technology research concentrates on technology (including methods and pedagogies) not the talent and skill with which it is applied that is frequently more significant" (Dron, 2011).


I would approach the use of technology a bit differently, asking why instead of how.


I find it combersome drawing a distinction between soft and hard technologies.  Defining hard technologies as particular processes and methods that inherently achieve certain ends confines the user to act or think in a certain way.  This leads to linking technologies to individuals based on socio-cultural-historical assumptions.  If one concludes that it's not the technology but how one uses it, does it matter which contained processes and methods lead to arbitrary (decontextualized) ends?


When reflecting on the different (hard) technologies that I use, I have yet to find one that does everything.  I am constantly adding and pruning technologies as my teaching and learning context changes.  The hard technologies that I use (in aggregate) are as fluid, flexible, and incomplete as some soft technologies.  Individual web tools serve as nodes that make up part of my PLN; a change in one can influence a change in others, similar to how people interact.


Jumping on the ANT bandwagon, I find it helpful to view technology as designing an assemblage (i.e., PLN) which views the social as a "very peculiar movement of re-association and reassembling" (Latour, 2005).  I see a PLN as a movement that re-associates and reassembles reifying conceptualizations, people, and material. 


Reifying conceptualizations is the process of making some abstract idea, notion, or problem more concrete through open and ongoing interaction.  From a socio-technical perspective, people use artifacts to interact with each other around related conceptualizations.  Interactions that connect conceptualizations, people, and material are contextually rich and provide the basis for one's teaching and learning rationale.


Consequently, my approach to technology would be to ask why someone chooses to interact within a PLN in ways that foster open and ongoing professional learning.  Asking why, also requires asking what, how, when, and with whom (plus any other applicable question words), while embracing a perspectival sensitivity between subject (i.e., participants of the study) and object (i.e., researcher). In other words, it's about understanding how the individual's interpretation of becoming emerges from the recollection of the associations, assemblages, and dynamics of a PLN. It just so happens that my interest in such a topic has led me to a doctoral proposal.


 


 

Improve Learning: The Socio-Material Dynamic versus Structure

My response to The Virtuous Middle Way...

The efficiency of the learning process speaks nothing of the effectiveness of it. Might we say, "the machinery of education is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the learning process"? I doubt that many educators would argue against this as an espoused theory, but as a theory in use, perhaps it is a different story (as Jeremy eludes to). Comparing MOOCs to educational institutions (if I must), I find that some MOOCs are actually more structured than some institutional courses I've been involved with - at least in terms of laying out a content timeline and delivery. Regardless, to understand the effectiveness and efficiency of any learning process, one needs to analyze how the socio-material dynamic (i.e., how over time people interact with each other together with the necessary artifacts that allow such interaction to take place) emerges within a given structure.

Offering guidance in any structure could be seen as being helpful or a hindrance. What constitutes guidance? A newsletter? Syllabus? Freedom of choosing an ICT? Personal explanation/feedback? Graded exam? Lecture? These all could be seen in both a positive and negative light depending on the circumstances. But it's precisely the circumstances that we need to understand in order to have a better idea about the effectiveness and efficiency of the learning process at hand.

ICT Challenge (#edumooc)

There was some talk this week during a recent Google+ hangout about how others were using technology to understand all the content related to edumooc 2011. I decided to share some ICTs that I'm currently using and thought I'd invite others to do the same. Perhaps this might help those who are still trying to find their way around the vast amount of information that's out there. Feel free to include the link to your video below.

Massive or Meaningful and Relevant? (#edumooc)

 As can be seen, it is often pointed out that [size] is a necessary characteristic, but I've been experimenting with what I call Miniscule Open Online Courses, which is where I think that the principles on which MOOCs are based apply to courses run on a much smaller scale e.g. http://goodbyegutenberg.pbworks.com. - 

Adding to this point, I would be content simply calling a MOOC an OOC.

It's difficult enough interpreting the concept of openness given the different opinions on the most appropriate Creative Commons license to use for example, namely whether content should be under a commercial or noncommercial license. For some, openness is all or nothing, for others it's a matter of degree.

The notion of online delivery is another issue for (especially) those new to this type of learning environment. Which technologies should be used? How to engage yet not feel overwhelmed?

The idea of a “course” then leads to issues of start and end dates, identifying explicit or implicit desired results (intentional/unintentional learning), implementing different types and the distribution of assessment, taking the course for credit or no credit, etc.

Notions of openness, delivery, and course attributes are more important than how many participants there are in an OOC - subscribing to the notion that says, “more is better”. One might argue that having large amounts of participants will lead to continued discourse or peer-to-peer learning after the MOOC has completed; that learners will be more engaged if a MOOC has large numbers. But it has more to do with the type of communication that flows between each learner and their neighboring nodes (i.e., those individuals or communities that remain within one degree of separation and any artifacts the learner has direct contact with) than it does simply knowing how many neighboring nodes (NNs) exist in the first place. And who's to say it's better if those NNs are exclusively MOOC participants? And even if all NNs are exclusively MOOC participants, what's the ratio of NNs/MOOC participants, and does that even matter. A more engaging and effective learning experience is possible if we focus on what it means for this type of learning environment to be open, online, and how it's presented as a course.

I believe it's quite possible to have an engaging and effective learning experience when five OOC participants have 30 NNs that include the other four OOC participants and 26 individuals or communities that have nothing to do with the OOC itself. It's also possible that these same five OOC participants can have a fruitful learning experience being part of a 1000 other OOC participants but still choose to interact with the same NNs; that is, to remain on the peripheral of the (“M”)OOC.  If we must stick to the acronym, I'd leave it as a Meaningful (and relevant), Open, Online, Course.  Then have a discussion around what is meaningful and relevant around particular educational contexts.

What any OOC needs is sustainability - at least between the start and end dates, otherwise there is no course. Creating a discourse around openness, delivery, and the course in terms of curriculum, assessment, and instruction (in terms of meaningful and relevant learning given particular educational contexts) will go much further in bringing about OOC sustainability than talking how many numbers lead to “massiveness”.

My Favorite Things (#edumooc)

Here are a few of My Favorite Things:

  • I use my Galaxy Tab to manage tweets, email, facebook, Google+, and other web-surfing tasks.  And my favorite Galaxy app right now is live365!

  • I use my website and Moodle to organize my thoughts and my classes that I teach to pre-service English language teachers.

  • I also like VoiceThread, WizIQ as a virtual classroom, Internet Archive, YouTube, BlipTV, Google Docs, Google Reader, and NetVibes as I use all of these both as a teacher and learner.

  • Wikieducator is a great website.  Producing OERs and OEPs is something I wish I could dedicate more time to.

  • Skype is great for language exchanges and communicating with colleagues.

  • Overall, I love Linux Mint 11 as it allows me to work more efficiently and effectively at the computer while feeling good that an OS of this caliber is possible as a result of people working together in an open and caring way (open source).



[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xw4Hy6MtBLE&w=425&h=349]