I’m almost too embarrassed to post this. It’s been such a trying day. Owing to my hard disk going down, I’ve been trying to work off a really rubbish DELL laptop. Only.. I don’t have any of the applications I need installed, can’t install them because I’m not an administrator, and beyond that I just don’t really know my way around Windows as well as OSX. Hitch after hitch.. in the end I realised that I could (kind of) use the mac I poured 750 millilitres of water into four and a half years ago. Its screen doesn’t work (repair costs more than a new PowerBook, despite the piece that is broken costing less than a pound. Note to self- must learn to micro solder) and I haven’t updated anything in ‘a while’.. but it was easier to attempt this on my TV screen than continue with the DELL. I’ll try to upload a still visual tomorrow, with some notes, to connect what I have said to some theory.
Thanks for watching/listening.
Update – I’ve re-recorded the audio. Not ‘amazing’ quality still, but best I could do under the circumstances.
Huffington Post article by Otto Scharmer (MIT lecturer) on the pilot of a new type of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): MOOC 4.0. He describes the evolution of MOOCs:
MOOC 1.0 – One-to-Many: Professor lecturing to a global audience
MOOC 2.0 – One-to-One: Lecture plus individual or small-group exercises
MOOC 3.0 – Many-to-Many: Massive decentralized peer-to-peer teaching.
MOOC 4.0 – Many-to-One: Deep listening among learners as a vehicle for sensing one’s highest future possibility through the eyes of others.
I think the MOOC I am participating in is still MOOC 1.0…
The pilot that Scharmer refers to has some fairly impressive statistics:
Eighty-eight percent of the respondents said in an exit survey that the course was either “eye-opening” (52%) or “life-changing” (36%).
So, what makes it different?
Formation of social fields is facilitated, linked to location hubs and ‘clinic circles’;
It includes 75-minute synchronous sessions (global) focused on mindfulness;
There is a focus on empathetic listening;
It intentionally sets out to connect students.
Such a striking difference to my own MOOC experience.
My experience in my chosen MOOC has revealed how significant the role of non-human actors can be. Rather than the course infrastructure being a tool to support me at my command, it seems to obstruct dialogue. The instructor includes regular activities which involve posting to a particular forum (there are 290 threads for week 1 alone) and commenting on at least two other participants. The instructions end:
Engage and discuss with other learners below!
At the top of the thread there’s a button to ‘view my response’ – but it doesn’t work. The only way to find your previous post to see if anyone has responded to it is to recall how many days ago you commented, and then trawl through at least 3 pages of posts from the same day to find your own post. Similarly, in the general forum section outside the weekly blocks, there is a search field – only, it does not return results for what I have posted.
There is a lot of activity in the forums; people are clearly making their two comments on peers’ posts as required. Perhaps they are driven by desire for the small completion tick, which only appears by the activity once one has both posted and commented on others. Comments are, largely, thoughtful. Many are not particularly critical, but they frequently refer to the original post, ask questions, or add relevant content to the post. However, I am yet to see a single instance of an original poster replying to someone who has commented on her post.
It is incredibly frustrating: our participation is regulated, demanded even, through completion only being recognised after posting. We are told to ‘engage’. Yet, the only real navigation is forward and backwards between reams of comments. The technology closes down the opportunity for any kind of real engagement with other learners.
What could the motivation for this be? The illusion of constructivist learning?
Posts in my lifestream reflected concerns about how to conduct the micro-ethnography, with a youtube video by a student outlining how to conduct a netnography (Kozinets’ 2002 term for ethnography adapted to the study of online communities) and a video of Kozinets outlining a case study of a netnography for marketing purposes. The former video alluded to the need for caution when declaring your research intentions because it can affect community members willingness to participate. Yet, such a declaration is required ethically (followed up in a post linked to a slide-presentation by Kozinets on the ethics of netnography, and discussion of the risks of ‘decloaking’ anonymised data). The difficulty of declaring research intentions unveiled further concerns about what constitutes an appropriate distance between observer and subject within netnography, which was taken up in Twitter discussion [1, 2, 3] with Chenée Psaros and through reading articles by Hine (2008a, 2008b) and Gatson and Zweerink (2004). The difference between an E3 (Hine, 2015) and a cyberspatial approach to netnography was also briefly investigated.
The notion of community cultures was introduced lightheartedly through a suggestion to Eli Eappleby-Donald that we use Hypothesis to peer annotate web documents for the course, a Twitter shout-out to a friend for advice on what MOOC to focus on, and Timothy Leary’s 1994 prediction that human communication would be taken up by ‘interscreening’. This discussion was deepened through examination of the values, ethos and characteristics of MOOCs, sparked by reading of Stewart’s (2013) paper, and followed up with a youtube clip exploring her earlier (2010) research with McAuley, Siemens & Cormier. Another idea from Stewart’s (2013) paper, that networked learning such as MOOCs can foster the development of participatory cultures and new literacies was interrogated with a focus on what counts as literate with new literacies (and on how these literacies are developed), and the role of meta-level processes in literacy (Belshaw, 2012).
Finally, throughout the week there was discussion between course peers about our visual artefacts [1, 2, 3, 4], which I will continue to comment on this week.
In Massiveness + Open = New Literacies of Participation (2013), Stewart identified 3 integral components to MOOCs:
“the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an acknowledged expert in a field of study and a collection of freely accessible online resources” (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier, 2010)
Yet, as Stewart further highlights, the story of MOOCs is often (misleadingly) told through that of online education in general, globalization and networked learning (p. 228), and the original values (autonomy, interaction, exploration, contribution) and characteristics (’emphasizing networked practices, knowledge generation, and many-to-many channels of communication’) MOOCs subverted or overlooked. The video explores the history, nature and values of MOOCs, as per McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier’s (2010) research, in more detail.
Reading/watching this research unfold today, with the proliferation of so-called xMOOCs that frequently focus on delivery of information or course content (Stewart, 2013), it seems almost idealistic. Yet, it is true that networked technologies have the capacity (and indeed are, though less frequently) to be used in the way McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier (2010) propose: a reminder that technology cannot be separated from social practice and context.
Looking forward to observing how networked practices come into play in my MOOC next week..
This short video by Dave Cormier provides advice on how to succeed in a MOOC:
Since my attendance in an as yet undecided MOOC next week will be for the purposes of conducting a min-visual ethnography rather than complete the MOOC successfully, it is not all totally relevant. However, the steps/phases declare, network, cluster seem to be key to community formation – so something to look out for, and to think about with regard to my own participation.