Connection not Content

A Blog for MOOCs and Other Animals

#CCK11 Any Questions? (part 2)

with 7 comments

This continues my DIY questionnaire for CCK11 …..

How would you improve a MOOC such as CCK11?

Improvement for whom? This is not a straightforward question because of the extreme focus Connectivism places on learner autonomy. Improvement for me as a relatively unschooled student of education theory might well be the opposite for someone who has participated in previous CCKs and is active in research. However, bringing together a critical mass of like-minded individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise for discussion and debate in a ‘neutral’ environment is a worthy achievement. So, building on this as a foundation I would then:

  • Be more explicit in stating aims and objectives. Make it absolutely clear that a MOOC is not a ‘course’ in any conventional sense. Take into account the actual experiences of previous MOOCers so that ‘does what it says on the tin’ resonates with a far greater number of participants in the future.
  • Provide more guidance on the role of participants in organizing their own facilities – doesn’t have to be prescriptive. Explain clearly in advance the purpose and use of any software tools and facilities provided by facilitators. Avoid using unproven software (however brilliantly conceived!) in major supporting roles.
  • Somehow designate more facilitators / assistants / curators / helpers / greeters – whatever. A significant number of CCK11 participants appear to be ‘serial MOOCers’ and some do in effect play out some of these roles very well. It’s only human for a new participant to appreciate a friendly welcome and a modicum of structure rather than confusion and chaos. This doesn’t have to be ‘spoon-feeding’ – just a little holding of hands! A suggestion: encourage all participants to state in their introductory statements how they might assist others (eg language translation). This could help prevent the loss of so many initial registrants.

These points are not intended as criticisms of the facilitators. I’m very aware that at least some imply additional resources that may simply not be available. Being old and cynical, my feeling is that learner autonomy is something of an ideal that does not usually happen by itself but requires considerable nurturing in terms of social attitudes as well as familiarization with any technology.

What would you like to say to the CCK11 facilitators?

Thank you! Your efforts are much appreciated. The Daily Newsletter and the weekly Elluminate sessions are crucial in maintaining focus and momentum and must involve considerable behind-the-scenes work. My impression is that your direct involvement in CCK11 discussion is perhaps  less than for previous CCKs. Clearly your time is limited and in a free and open course you have every right to set your involvement at whatever level you wish. However, the fact remains that Connectivism is heavily grounded in your own work (as the readings reflect) and your elucidation and interpretation is greatly valued by participants. Maybe widening the scope of the course so that Connectivism is situated more neutrally with other approaches to networked learning might help? Perhaps other key figures could then be persuaded to take up some of the administrative burden including facilitator and other roles as I’ve suggested above.

What would you like to say to other CCK11 participants?

Thank you too! I’ve enjoyed interacting with you. I’ve not been able to communicate much on the finer points of learning theory etc. but I do appreciate the atmosphere of tolerance and give and take that pervades CCK11. If this is a result of participants’ education – then I’m all for education!

So many of you have contributed to my knowledge and understanding in one way or another and I’m reluctant to mention names but I will say this. If, for my sins, I was forced to assess the contributions of fellow participants then, although I’d probably mark down the out-and-out lurkers, I would not necessarily mark up those who happen to have blogged, Facebooked, tweeted or whatever, with the greatest frequency. In my estimation some of the most thoughtful and illuminating contributions have originated from those who have been more backward in coming forward!

This will probably be my last post here – anyone is always very welcome to contact me via my website. Thanks again! – I’ve enjoyed your company!

Written by Gordon Lockhart

April 7, 2011 at 7:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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7 Responses

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  1. Thank you, Gordon.
    I hope to see you again. After this great experience, I think I’ll be one of those “serial MOOCers”.

    Best regards,

    • Thanks Verónica – I will try to keep up with your blog. Hope everything works out for you there – I know Mexico City a little having worked at CINVESTAV many years ago! Best wishes, Gordon


      April 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm

  2. Oh, CINVESTAV is a great place to work, some of my teachers work there, as a matter of fact, I live relatively near from it, anyway, I’ll keep up with your blog.
    Great meeting you.


  3. Well this response has been a jolly long time coming ! Sometimes reflection is a lengthy process. So many of your reflections apply for me as well Gordon. I think we must be nodes off the same stem. I refuse to use the “R” word

    My learning objectives for CCK11 were most informal – a means of furthering serendipitous learning. I believe that paths open up to us and we just need to keep an eye open.

    I too have reams of interesting-looking references and a much better knowledge of what I should know were I inclined to study education theory seriously. The emphasis being ‘inclined’ and I’m not ! life is too short – I’m off to pursue diversions I’m motivated to follow

    The interaction achieved to some extent RPF (removal of professional frustration) There is still an ostrich mentality for some educators, sadly many in executive positions and one becomes tired of being the voice in the wilderness.

    I too connected with only a small group of CCK11 participants ( not the ideal for a Connectivist but great for one with a Constructivist bent ) I’m not mad on the facebook format and I still have grave concerns re security and privacy issues. Thank goodness I’ve used my Second Life name to register because an ‘Add to facebook” option is now popping up on every second site I visit prompting posts, likes, etc.

    You remarked – ‘I was astounded and flattered by the impact my MOOC infographic made!’ – I love creative constructs in any publishing arena and it breaks away from the hive think threads which seemed to develop during this MOOC rather than the PLENK 2010 version which had postings from a diverse range of participants.

    What do I see as the advantages of a MOOC? You said: “…..They do ‘provide an enjoyable introduction to a topic while side-stepping much of the angst’ and perhaps that is the true secret of these MOOCs…..” Additionally, It’s a great way to generate one’s own learning within loose parameters and to hear the opinions of participants from many cultures. It’s also great to develop a link with some ‘kindred spirits’ and reconnect with them in other forums and courses
    What do I see as the challenges of a MOOC? High drop-out rates are of concern and I believe it would be productive to try to analyse the reasons for this. What is the course NOT offering for online learners ? There seems to be a new cohort bred for each of these MOOCs with very few MOOC ‘veterans’ maintaining their enthusiasm or participation.
    How would I improve a MOOC such as CCK11? You suggest ‘…….Take into account the actual experiences of previous MOOCers so that ‘does what it says on the tin’ resonates with a far greater number of participants in the future………..’
    I couldn’t agree more. I see scaffolding as a vital component for any level of learning, which means that everyone has the ability to function within their Zone of Proximal Development (thank you Vygotsky).
    You also suggested “………Provide more guidance on the role of participants in organizing their own facilities ….” On the evaluation someone suggested having an introductory week with no readings, just an orientation week where everyone could become familiar with the tech tools, forum interface etc. I think that is a great idea. I would also suggest some “hints for participating in a MOOC”such as “howtos” for establishing a Flickr, Facebook, Elluminate and Blog account. Each of these interfaces require some ‘practice time’ where people could become familiar with the basic tools/functions. I believe some people become overawed by other students’ use of these tools and it’s difficult to learn ‘on the job’ at the same time as dealing with the readings etc. I intended to compile such a list following my experiences with PLENK and they went and changed the format !!!!!!!! gRSShopper didn’t provide me with an opportunity.
    What would I like to say to the CCK11 facilitators? I continue to thank them, Stephen particularly, for his altruism and professional generosity. He’s a dynamo

    What would I like to say to other CCK11 participants? I’ve enjoyed the learning, the interactions, the laughter and the impish ‘provocations’ and insightful questions which have both challenged and affirmed me. I’m currently working on my Tweeting and Photography Skills, so I hope our paths will continue to cross. My final git to you Gordon is some words of wisdom from ‘Some Grey Bloke’. Now I wish he’d done the course with us !

    Susan O'Grady

    April 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm

  4. If there are typos or irregularities I humbly apologise. The formatting in the comments box was too darned cramped to read !! 🙂 🙂

    Susan O'Grady

    April 18, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    • Thanks for such an interesting response Susan. The whole idea of ‘creative constructs’ is something that CCK11 has made me more aware of – I will look at things like mindmaps etc in a new light now.

      ‘Additionally, It’s a great way to generate one’s own learning within loose parameters and to hear the opinions of participants from many cultures.’ You bet! I say again let the planet be saved through MOOC discussions on Climate Change 🙂

      Good suggestions re an orientation week – I fear some would interpret this as spoon-feeding though I’d say it’s just common sense. It also calls for extra facilitator resource but again this might be done by encouraging people to declare themselves (or not) in various useful roles.

      As for Twitter, I’m still experimenting. The next step is to follow Some Grey Bloke and be ignored by celebrities – I’m not too worried as my Tweets are usually ignored anyway 🙂


      April 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm

  5. Just noticed ‘….My final git to you Gordon….” should have read ‘gift’. With respect to the possibility of some perceptions of an orientation week being spoon feeding, the very notion of scaffolding is based on those who need it/use it and those who don’t/ don’t, so while it may not be relevant for all, it may be extremely relevant for some. I believe it is usually a mistake to assume prior knowledge. And the reasons for low contributory rates are important because they need to inform future practice. As to ‘being followed’ on Twitter – that can be a bit Spooky, a little Big Brotherish. In true Introvert style I’m quite happy being the follower and I only have a few trail blasers I stalk, never celebrities. Once their tweets are full of banal ‘what I’m doing now’ moments, I stop following. I’ve decided to experiment with Twitter just to maintain professional currency. Steve Case gives some good advice here:

    Susan O'Grady

    April 19, 2011 at 10:04 pm

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