The Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC by Jenny Mackness, Sui Fai John Mak, Roy Williams
Here are some excerpts from the abstract and my comments on them after one week in this CCK11 MOOK on Connectivism. I have bookmarked the article on my Diggo library.
1. Hirst (2009) has discussed the notion of an ‘uncourse’, i.e. one that does not follow a linear path, and Siemens (2009b) writes about ‘destabilising’ the course: ‘…distribute the conversation and learning resources in as wide a format as possible – making it impossible for anyone (instructors included) to participate in all forums and master the full range of content’.
I had first heard the concept on “un” at a unconference sponsored by Elliot Masie. Why un? This unconference did not follow a linear path but had many options from which to select. The conversations were distributed in many delivery modes- posters, walk and talks, panels, online. And the topics were very, very cutting edge. But the key difference was that the chaos known in advance by the unconference planners, was structured, compartmentalized, managed and well communicated. In a MOOC, the knowledge is morphing as it rapidly emerges and shifts. As a MOOC learner, I think you have to develop a very keen ability to organized and file the information you want to have, to meet immediate needs and to meet future needs.
2. Siemens (2008) suggests that learning occurs as a result of making connections at social, conceptual and neural levels, and Downes (2007a) that it involves learning to traverse networks of connections in which knowledge resides. These ideas form the basis of ‘a new and emerging theory of connectivism’ which they claim is distinctively different to theories of behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism (Siemens, 2004).
Connections require us to travel on networks, to organize the relevant knowledge we select. But here is the challenge with hundreds participating- how to find the right network? It requires much more time that a traditional class of pre-organized information- your inbox is deluged, and I have discovered much of it now still is people introducing themselves. I read the first day or two, then filed without reading, and now delete unopened. I thought I would see who signed in with my interests and I did send replies to a few and no one answered back.
3. Connectivism integrates the principles of chaos, network, complexity and self organization theories (Siemens 2004, 2006) and posits that ‘…to know something is to be organised in a certain way, to exhibit patterns of connectivity. To ‘learn’ is to ‘acquire certain patterns’ (Downes, 2005). The course was therefore designed to reflect the unique nature of learning in a ‘connectivist’ environment.
My comments and request
Last night I “ran into” a fellow MOOKer in Second Life. He too expressed difficulty in dealing with the sea, not universe!, of information. So I ask- what are the practical tasks you are undertaking to filter the information and, more importantly, enter into a network for conversation and learning?