CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, PLN, Professional Development

Online Learning: More Than Just a MOOC

As a life-long learner, I have appreciated engaging and interacting with a wide variety of educators in a few Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The concept of a MOOC is has been around for a while. In previous blog posts, I have shared the definition of a MOOC and my participation and experience. I have appreciated learning from the #eci831 and #CCK09 MOOC facilitators, such as Alec Couros, George Siemens & Stephen Downes. Even more,  I appreciate the knowledge shared by invited speakers and the connected learning participants who I continue to engage and exchange with beyond the course structure. MOOCs are now on the tip of everyone’s tongue due to recent education technology start-ups who are now designing MOOC-like courses and creating partnerships with many accredited higher education institutions. What’s all the MOOC about if the concept of a MOOC is not a new innovation?

#jiscwebinar What Is A MOOC? @dkernohan @mweller @jonathan_worth @loumcgill @daveowhite [visual Notes]

Image c/o Flickr user guilia.forsythe

In a recent CBC radio interview and blog post, George Siemens discusses more about the good and bad aspects of Massively Open Online Courses are for online learning. There are different sides of the camp on this topic. Some believe MOOCs will either kill or transform the academy as we know it. Here are some interesting points that were shared in the interview from George and callers to the show:

Current Learning & Development = #AltProDev

If there is an interesting alternative professional development (#AltProDev) opportunity available – I’m there! Part of the reason why I have connected to podcasting with BreakDrink.com or participation in Twitter Chats (#AcAdv Chat, #SAchat or #PhDchat) can be attributed to my early learning experiences with MOOCs. I enjoy engaging in PD to improve my skills and add to my knowledge repertoire. Across various personal and professional spheres, I have learned a great deal at formal conferences, workshops and education sessions; however, I am also proud to say I learn a great deal from my informal training and development environments that are primarily cultivated online. I think that MOOCs provide a set time period for professionals to learn about a specific topic and engage with others in a similar informal fashion. What is neat about this classroom is, that although the course might end, your network and learning artifacts continue to thrive outside the specific learning environment.

Teaching locally but accredit widely.

As a current student in higher education (I’m in process of working on my doctoral degree in learning technologies at UNT), I tend to research, read, archive, and share online to keep on top of the trends and happenings. I think my involvement in MOOCs have connected me to new concepts, research ideas, learning networks, and continue to support my formal education goals. My intention when signing up for this type of free, online learning was to support my own professional development and expose myself to new learning concepts. I reflected my MOOC experiences to my faculty advisor and he believed that participation in any one of these classes could be an added elective for my doctoral degree plan since this informal learning environment was contributing to my research design. How would this type of learning be looked like at your institution for degree requirements? Here is one suggestion for earning college credit from MOOCs if interested.

Sustainable model? Or Just Branding?

The MOOC talk seems to be all the rage as start-up companies, such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, partner to “reshape online learning” with well-known higher education institutions. Will the massive hype of these MOOC types lead to effective use and sustainable funding models? Or is this just another method for marketing and propagation of the university brand? I do not know. I agree with George’s thoughts – we will see after the dust settles and the MOOC hype levels off in higher education.

Types of MOOCs

As the online learning trend grows there will be various types, targets and tiered offerings of MOOCs. Some of the MOOCs I have reviewed have included areas for digital competence, open education and technical resources. The content, subjects, platforms and learning environments will vary from MOOC to MOOC – and will most likely depend on the partnering institutions influence as well. Online learning will continue to be part of higher education curriculum at many institutions, but as George says “open and online courses is not going to be what cures the ails of online education.” I concur.

Incomplete = Failure?

Does a lack of commitment or completion mean that a MOOC failed? In looking at the retention and completion rates of MOOCs, the numbers vary from start to finish of a MOOC. Audrey Watters wrote a great about dropping out of MOOCs last week. She questioned if it was the content, instructor, platform or learner themselves. Good questions. If this was a multiple choice test, I might even select (E) Any of the above. Or perhaps our MOOC participants would commit more if they paid to learn – even $2 Would the freemium model commit participants more if there was a certification, badge, or accreditation for courses attached? Does extrinsic motivation trump the intrinsic goal for learning and self-fulfillment? I’m not sure.

Dynamics of MOOCs vs. Organic Classroom Experience

There are many pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings for MOOCs. If designed well, a number of online education opportunities allow for discussion, problem-solving, reflection, and unique dynamic interactions. A question from one of the callers to the CBC radio program asked (paraphrased) – can online education and MOOCs really replace the organic interactions in a face-to-face classroom environment? My initial response = it depends. I have always thought good teaching and solid learning outcomes is what drives the course. That being said it is important to note that technology is “not just a tool.” As a student, I have been in both fantastic and terrible courses both online and in class. Depending on the course purpose and objectives, instructors have the POTENTIAL to engage learners in a truly immersive and participative online learning environment. Technology is the instrument; the students are the musicians – it is up to the instructor to orchestrate and guide the collaborative instrumental play in online education.

What are your thoughts about MOOCs? Have you participated in a MOOC? Are you planning to participate in a MOOC in the near future? Please share.

CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, Learning Community, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

What’s A MOOC?

What is a MOOC? What it is not = 

        

Flickr photos c/o maraker & cobalt123

Many of my educational technology peers might have heard the term MOOC tossed around before. For those of you who are just hearing this acronym, let me further explain. MOOC = Massive Open Online Course. It is exactly as the title describes. Here is a further description from Jan Schwartz‘s article – Learnings from a MOOC:

In the MOOC, the facilitators aggregated the conversations on a daily basis via a mass email, took a few really good posts (in their opinion), and advanced the conversation by asking more questions and pointing the discussions in relevant directions. Their choice of good posts included both the pro and the con of topics of connectivism and connected learning. 

The term MOOC was recently shared in yesterday’s Wired Chronicle article . When I heard about this upcoming MOOC last week I was looking forward to this course. My past experiences in other MOOCs – EC&I 831 & CCK09 – have contributed to my professional development, academic research and personal learning networks.  As an on-going learner, MOOCs often cultivate my learning interests and challenge me to go beyond what I  learning realms.

The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield is currently welcoming participants to their upcoming eight-week MOOC starting on June 27, 2011. [You can follow @edumooc or the hashtag #edumooc on Twitter and check out the eduMOOC wiki if you just care to “lurk & learn”]:

Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow

This collaborative course is completely open and free. Check out the great schedule for weekly panel discussions with experts in field. This will be a fun learning opportunity for some and perhaps great professional development for others.  I also encourage you to check out Dave Cormier‘s videos that shares  “What is a MOOC?” and how to be successful in a MOOC:

CCK09, Learning Community, Learning Technologies

Visitor or Resident?

“Transparency is related to openness. Openness is most often related to content. Transparency, in contrast, involves making our learning explicit through forums, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and videos.” ~ George Siemens, Week 8: Openness and Transparency

Participation in #CCK09, the entire course thrives on learners and educators who are open and transparent in the learning process. David White joined the #CCK09 class to discuss his ideas on how Visitor and Resident learners impact the online educational environment [session recording].

Visitors & Residents: Original Blog Post & Presentation

v

Image c/o original V TV series

Much of this conversation was initiated with the JISC funded Isthmus project which was designed to bridge the gap between institutions and online learning, specifically how learners are utilizing technology. Instead of using the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’ (coined by Marc Prensky in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants 2001 publication), White sees learners as being a Visitor or Resident in their motivation for online education. Here is a quick Visitor vs. Resident comparison chart I created based on his presentation:

Visitor vs. Resident

In thinking about my own experience, as an online learner, I seem to fall in the ‘Resident’ category. I am very transparent and open online, and I am comfortable sharing my learning experiences and social experiences digitally. Although I am a resident, I can recognize a few visitor experiences from time to time, i.e. learning new tools, online resources and expanding my personal learning environment perimeters.

In thinking of the Visitor vs. Resident comparison, it is critical to think of it as a continuum rather that distinct categories. Students should not be labelled definitely into these categories since it is fluid. Each learner may have boundaries and limitations, however possess a willingness to be an open, online learner. As an educator, it is critical to create a learning environment online that provides structure and purpose online, while allowing learners to expand their creativity and knowledge as they see fit.

CCK09, EC&I831, Learning Community, Open Education

Is Your Education Open?

The term “open education” means different things to different people. There are many interpretations as to what open education and content means for learning. Often the financial costs, learning environments, accreditation and the role of the faculty are a few key issues that arise when discussed amongst educators.

I thought it was suitable to explore this topic, since I am currently enrolled in 2 open education courses, EC & I 831 & CCK 09 as a non-credit student. My goal in joining these open content courses was to collaborate with other learners, share resources, & establish on-going connections beyond the scope of the course, i.e. stay connected to people in the #edtech field for information-sharing and learning support. My participation in #eci831 & #cck09 has greatly enhanced my knowledge and research for my doctorate work at UNT, and I value the introductions to various topics, presenters, and peers.

Last week, Jon Mott joined #eci831 to discuss his experiences in open education. Here are the slides:

A few key take-away points, resources & quotes include:

  • Great Talk: David Wiley’s recent keynote on Open Education
  • openness allows for connection, personalizing and creation: allowance to share resources, ideas & knowledge
  • ability to move from passive consumption to sharing & collaborating amongst our connections
  • Creative Commons is a valuable entity that allows content to be shared & accessed
  • “Literacy is moving from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able.” ~Jon Mott
  • MIT Open CourseWare project is a solid model that offers free content for approximately 2000 courses
  • Open Courseware Consortium is a great database for other open education content
  • Other examples where education is open = Education Channel of YouTube,  iTunes U, and OER Commons
  • academic institutions vary their stance on content sharing, open education, etc
  • help students and instructors to understand the difference between “open” and “closed” education
  • need to seek sustainable models for open courseware and education
  • debates and questions continue about openness in education, with regards to Learning Management Systems (LMS), credentialing, faculty role, archeticture of courses, etc.
  • open education is more of a social & cultural issue, now that the technology is becoming rapidly available and accessible for learners/educators

The final thoughts prompted questions on how open education will impact our learners & how education will change in the future. More discussion about open education will continue tomorrow evening when Alan Levine joins #cck09 to share some of his thoughts around Openness & Transparency. Join in & share your two cents.

CCK09, Learning Community

Networks Influence Learning

It’s know what you know, it’s who you know. Dave Cormier believes that “knowledge is something that can be negotiated and validated in a community of knowledge.” This means that the future of education may be more connected and less constructed. This idea both challenge and invigorates educators alike.

A couple weeks ago, Dave & Stephen discussed/bantered about a few key concepts about Connective Knowledge for CCK09 Week 4:

  • Knowledge is the psychological result of perception, learning and reasoning.
  • Connective learning is a process of creating new knowledge patterns.
  • Networks influence how knowledge is shared.

The Online Ecosystem (Redux) by Jay Collier provides a good example of how online connections have become more integrated over the last few years in higher education:

online-evolution

In thinking about how networks influence learning and how integrative online environments impact knowledge-sharing, Dave presents two camps for education practice for online learning:

1) The Guild Model: designed with rules & regulations, peer learners, and methods to validate success; no restrictions & not a fully connected model

2) The Wild West Model: learning & knowing by being connected to a group of people who do the same types of things that you do, i.e. through Twitter, blogs, etc; knowledge exists in random locations; natural kind of learning

Both models of learning have value for the online education, however one method structures networks from the instructor, whereas the other connections are organically grown by the learner. There are many examples of learning technologies and numerous tools to support online initiatives, however it is important to establish methods to make connections and best practices in developing skills for effective learning. As online connections and environments evolve, this debate for how to best construct online learning continues.

CCK09, Learning Community, MOOC

Connecting to CCK09

Last night was the first meeting for the open course Connectivism & Connective Knowledge (CCK09) facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Approximately 708 students have signed up for either credit or non-credit learning to share ideas around connected learning and knowledge at any given time. In the live elluminate room, there were about 50 or so active & engaged students ranging from a wide field of interests and professional backgrounds.

mechano

Photo c/o http://londonskyline.blogspot.com


I decided to join this course for a few reasons:

  1. Connect with other like-minded individuals online.
  2. Join a learning community interested in sharing ideas around connected knowledge and online learning.
  3. To further explore the ideas around the pedagogy of connectivism – a term coined by George & utilized in an early research/pilot project at the University of Toronto.
  4. Ponder some theories and developments for learning/performance technology to enhance my doctoral research & studies @ UNT.

The meeting last night was more around the structure of the course and expectations for the participants. The opening session introduced a myriad of methods for continual connection throughout the semester, and encouraged networking and collaboration amongst our online peers.

Although there are few structured sessions and a CCK09 schedule, this does not limit anyones means for connections beyond the confines of the course. I think it is amazing to see the connections of a few of our peers flourish immediately on Twitter, through sharing of the blogs and more.  I’m looking forward to connecting further and engaging with the numerous resources and ideas that everyone is bringing to the digital table

TO DO List:

(before next class – September 17, 4:00 pm CST “What is Connectivism”)

Readings

What connectivism is

What is the Unique Idea in Connectivism?

Optional Readings/References:

http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/?p=101

Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism (.pdf)

http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf


If you are interested in staying “connected” to CCK09, feel free to jump into the course as a non-credit student and/or use CCK09 tag to search on Twitter, Google Alerts, Diigo, Delicious and more! You are bound to connect to one of the members of the online learning community and perhaps take away an idea or two.

Hello to all my new online friends. Feel free to stay connected to me on this blog or via various ways I engage online –  HERE. See ya’ll on Thursday!