MOOCs and Connectivisim
Kop (2011) The Challenges to connectivism learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a Massive Open Online Course
There has always been a triangle of interaction between learner, tutor and content/material; the age of learning has facilitated new ways for interactions to happen and heightened the emphasis on communication in the people-based interactions. Since the 1980s, learning has also been characterised by a greater emphasis on the learning theories that now underpin how we try to understand the phenomenon.
Connectivisim fits with the participation metaphor proposed by Sfard (1998) and taking the emphasis away from a body of knowledge and more toward “engagement of people in communication with each other” (p20). Learning in this paradigm is enhanced by:
· Aggregation – having lots of resources to work with
· Relation – reflecting and connecting the content to something
· Creation – making meaning by building an output such as a blog entry
· Sharing – giving other learners access to the output.
Connectivism assumes self-directed learning, with the attendant expectations that learners will have the motivation to manage their time and their activities themselves.
An important factor in motivation to learn is the “presence” of the learner’s cognitive involvement with the content at a deep level as well as of other learners and, in formal environments, teachers. In Personal Learning Environments, the teacher presence may be substituted by other “experts” within whom the learner can interact.
To make this type of learning happen, learners need various kinds of digital literacy. They need to be able to work with and understand the networks they are in and search for and make value judgements about the resources they are using.
Kop’s study looked at two MOOCs in terms of the digital literacies required, the autonomy of the learner and the level of cognitive, social and teacher presence.
It confirmed the importance of these factors and demonstrated that it takes time for learners to build their confidence and competence to manage their learning and interact within the community they have joined.
Not all learners engaged with all four activities mentioned above – in particular, creation was something that only a minority completed visibly.
I think you are right to be careful of the categories of MOOC. There are considerable similarities between the types and I wonder if a successful course needs to offer a range of approaches to cater for learners different preferences.
Do you have a personal preferred approach?