Connection not Content

A Blog for MOOCs and Other Animals

#CCK11 Any Questions? (part 1)

with 6 comments

I think I commented somewhere before that  if the participants of the CCK11 MOOC are accountable for anything, it may be towards the future use of this remarkable form of networked learning. So, for the sake of future research and posterity,  I’ve followed the connectivist DIY way to create, answer and record my very own CCK11 questionnaire. I hope this is a useful exercise – if anyone else wants to base their own questionnaire on my questions I have absolutely no objections.

  • What is your background?

I’m a retired academic. I worked in an Engineering Department at Leeds University (UK) and was involved in teaching, research and administration.

  • What were your learning objectives for CCK11?

(a) Since retiring I’ve studied a number of topics via internet sources but never indulged much in networked learning. I saw CCK11 as a means of furthering my knowledge of education theory while gaining personal experience of networked learning itself.

(b) I was looking for ideas in connection with my website (iBerry, ‘The Academic Porthole’). This is a non-profit I’ve run (with a little help from my friends) for more than 11 years. Although now attracting around 1,000 page hits a day, collecting feedback and connecting with users has always been difficult and a critical mass of interested users / facilitators has never been achieved. I felt that some understanding of connectivism and its practice in a MOOC might help in addressing this issue.

  • Did you achieve these objectives?

(a) I now have reams of interesting-looking but unread references and a much better knowledge of what I should know were I inclined to study education theory seriously. On the whole, my learning has been more in the nature of RPI (Removal of Pig Ignorance) than anything else!

(b) I’ve connected with CCK11 participants in various ways – blogging, comments on blogs, FB page etc. I believe that the insights I’ve gained into social networking and interaction will certainly be useful. As an example, in contrast with my earlier blog pontifications, I was astounded and flattered by the impact my MOOC infographic made! I should make much greater use of the visual – and pontificate less!

  • What do you see as the advantages of a MOOC?

Connectivist MOOCs seem to perform well in an ‘orientation’ mode where high drop-out rates and assessment are not very relevant (I blogged on this here). With a free-wheeling approach to learner autonomy and engagement, a MOOC can provide an enjoyable introduction to a topic while side-stepping much of the angst (assignments, deadlines, exams etc) associated with formal learning.

  • What do you see as the disadvantages of a MOOC?

It’s unclear what a Connectivist MOOC can offer in roles other than orientation, particularly when learning objectives are quite specific. I doubt whether a Connectivist MOOC can ever be very effective or efficient where time is limited and mastering a skill or understanding an issue is critical. Setting learning objectives with no commitment to anyone but yourself and then interacting with like-minded interesting people with different backgrounds and learning objectives may be engaging, enjoyable and an excellent approach in some circumstances but not in others. As far as ‘deep learning’ is concerned, I think a balance must be struck between the social support offered by learning networks and the need for private study where learners reflect, practice and nurture learning as individuals, in a space of their own and without distraction. (This can be Hard Work and not such fun – as many research students find out!) The concept of isolated study sits uneasily with Connectivism where knowledge itself is somehow identified with network connections.

Written by Gordon Lockhart

April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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6 Responses

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  1. […] My experience of CCK11 was good but rather different from what I’d expected. My main achievement seems to have been the CCK11 MOOC Cow infographic  (I’ve just spotted it again popping up in Deb Seed’s excellent blog!)  Anyway, this time I enter Change11 with no specific learning objectives apart from a keen interest in following the development of the extraordinary MOOC as it finds  its place among online courses and in education in general. What you get out of a MOOC is very much what you put into it so I will try my best to contribute but if I do become a Lurker – so be it! Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. indeed a late response but I’ve been reorganizing my feed reader – like closets without the dust bunnies and wire hangers – and adding to “how to pack for a mooc” list. tidy up the reader BEFORE the mooc starts. still, I am finding posts I missed the first time around or caught but did not books or tag effectively for easy refinding.

    I remember this one because it reminded me of something from high school. I went to a small rural school: friends who attended the much larger high school in the nearby city kept telling me how much I was missing, class variety, more and better teachers. I told them no matter where I went to school, I would get out of it what I put into it. Very satisfying later to kick dust in their faces in university placement exams. That, of course – as with moocs and DIY learning, does not mean it works that way for everyone. That much I learned training horses. It might, though, suggest that there may be more potential or naturally connectivist learners out there in K-12 that get it squashed out of them along the way.

    In addition to other areas, I’ve taught GED to dropouts, parolees and older adults, many bright but wouldn’t play the game so fell or got pushed through the cracks. I think mooc delivery could be adapted for them.

    I’m also delighted to catch and tag The Academic Porthole.


    September 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    • Good to see you again Vanessa! You touch on issues that don’t seem to get too much attention these MOOC days. I think that success in learning can depend so much on the individual learner (horses or not!) and also on the skills of those who teach/instruct/facilitate (whatever). It was always so and I suspect that the pendulum has maybe swung a little too far towards viewing connectivist learning as some sort of universal solution. What works with a bunch of well-educated, internet-savvy people, interested and prepared to learn can’t be expected to work in all circumstances which is why it’s so important that connectivist ideas are actually tried, tested and researched in as many different fields as possible.


      September 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

  3. As much I like both connectivist approach and mooc model – and not just because they suit me, which they do, I am inclined to agree with your position. “What works with a bunch of well-educated, internet-savvy people, interested and prepared to learn” = those who would thrive in any learning situation and could teach themselves if need be.

    I wonder how broad not just teaching but also learning experiences have been for some of the true believers (a suspect category). I’ve had great teaching delivered in models that would make the average connectivist mooc rat run away shrieking. Try training with a retired Prussian cavalry officer or any other old school classic instruction in high discipline areas ~ ballet, opera, piano, etc. But it is not a coincidence that those sticking to these training regimens are highly motivated learners who would desperately be trying to figure it for themselves. I’ve also taught myself, not always because I wanted to because it was my only option, created a my own pre-interenet PLN before the term existed. It goes on… great lectures in a European lecture auditorium, the original mega class, both kind of seminar experiences – deadly boring and invigorating. Anyone with mileage has had all kinds.

    I think – hope – there’s a place for the mooc model and would also like to see less navel gazing and more trial runs in subject and discipline specific courses. That’s why I liked this post, written for non-profit professional associations and suggesting the model for specific training workshops. ABE preceded by tech orientation (another literacy) too for those who want to learn. I’m sorry about the fate of the others but not enough to teach them against their will. It’s there if they want it; if not, then not.

    Not all great learners and joys to teach come from the ranks of the exceptional and well prepared (also often well situated, able to afford that traditional experience ideally delivered) for whom my intervention is more or less superfluous. Granted the deck is stacked against them. So maybe (to my way of thinking) that and the above are where mooc model can make a difference. Fix the potholes and it could be a game changer, get co-opted or both. Still no universal solutions and probably not anything that hasn’t already been tried in some form even if no longer particularly recognizable. Large classes, hanging out in smaller groups, student independence to chose what they would study and with whom. That could describe aspects of the medieval university. No need to defenestrate profs when you can just delete and unsub.


    September 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    • Interesting – and good points! I started to reply by citing several examples from my own past as an educator, where MOOC-like ideas might or might not be readily applied and then realised that I’ve enough for a whole blog post – so maybe I’ll do that in due course if I can find the time! But yes, I think there could be considerable filling in of potholes before MOOCs can be adapted, if at all, for a variety of very different educational environments.


      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

  4. […] MOOCs, Vanessa Vaile’s writes (in a comment on ‘#CCK11 Any Questions? (part 1)‘), “I think – hope – there’s a place for the mooc model and would also like to […]

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