Tag Archives: learning

MOOC as Learning Experience – #OpenEdMOOC Week 3

For Week 1 I shared ‘Open Matters‘ with a bit from the reading, and an Open Education Manifesto that I put together in 2011.

For Week 2 I shared ‘“More Free” #OpenEdMooc Week 2‘ with a reflection on Stephen Downe’s 2012 post on the topic of why BY-NC-SA is more free than suggested in the Creative Commons.

I really haven’t done much more that summarize the readings, add a bit of reflection, and some of my thinking (previously) influenced by others… nothing really new, just summaries and review of things I’ve already thought about.

For that reason, it was refreshing to see Lisa M. Lane discuss OERs again.

“I’ve posted a number of times on Open Educational Resources, and mentioning these might help explain why I subject the entire issue to serious criticism, a small sigh, and a raised eyebrow…”

Go ahead and read the post, and the comments (please).

I found this refreshing because this was the first of the learner contributions to the course that went beyond summarizing the reading or past thinking, and it was also critical of the conversation.

Even my post on “More Free”, while somewhat argumentative on the Creative Commons ideas of what is more or less free, was still just reiteration of Stephen Downe’s idea, which he again mentioned in the last 38 seconds of his video, in this week’s course content (shared below).

In the course so far, Lisa’s post was the first student contribution that I’ve found, which promoted conversation and discourse. Discourse is actually the thing I most appreciated about a previous project involving George Siemens and Stephen Downes, “Online Connectivism Conference: Healthy Discord

This discourse is something that I have seldom seen in the world of educational blogs. There seems to be an unspoken etiquette about being non-confrontational when discussing ideas on other’s blogs. Essentially teachers don’t criticize others’ opinions. Even when there is disagreement it is often polite, reserved and… well, annoying. On the other hand, there seems to be thoughtful discord and discourse happening in the Connectivism conference forums.

Yesterday, Donna Fry connected with me on Twitter (she is the reason I jumped on board to take this course ‘with’ her and others. She linked to a Tweet about another open course Learning Creative Learning, and also said, “…I am so far behind in already (right ?)

My response:

This morning we connected and had a great Facetime conversation. This conversation was the second time my thinking has been challenged in the course. Donna helped me re-evaluate the value of the ‘No Derivatives’ aspect of CC, which I didn’t see a purpose for, because I thought of it as equally as restricted as copyright. Her example was sharing something controversial, where ‘altered’ works could then cause mis-attribution and confusion about your original message.

Another key topic discussed was that we both learn from healthy discourse (and even discord)… something lacking (so far) in this course.

Donna shared with me (and on Twitter with #OpenEdMOOC) an article by Margaret Wheatley, “Willing to be Disturbed“:

“There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This isn’t easy – I’m accustomed to sitting there nodding my head to those saying things I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my own views more dearly, including my beliefs and assumptions”

and Doug Belshaw “On CC0

• CC0/Public Domain: “No Rights Reserved” — I have created this thing, and you can do whatever you like with it.

…For me, the CC0 decision is a no-brainer. I’m working to make the world a better place through whatever talents and skills that I’ve got. While I want my family to live comfortably, I’m not trying to accumulate wealth. That’s not what drives me. So I definitely feel what Alan says that he’s “given up trying to be an attribution cop”.

Both of these articles have pushed my thinking a bit, both are initiated not by the course content, but rather learner relationships.

And so with the following 2 tweets in mind, I planned to call this post “Open Discourse”:

@_Ms_J contributed:

However, I started thinking about why this idea of disagreement and discourse was missing, and that got me thinking about course design. So far, I can see this course being more informational that conversational and that makes me question the value of it being a MOOC, and not just an online course where the student, teacher and content are the primary focus.

To me, the value of a MOOC is that the participants get to openly engage with each other and the curriculum in a way that fosters greater value than if students immerse themselves in the course without the networked connections of other participants.

So here is a little image that I’ve put together to look at the MOOC as Learning Experience.

Venn diagrams are about the relationships between things and I think these relationships are key in a MOOC. Donna says above, ‘MOOCs are more about conversations & connections than content’, and I think learner experience in a MOOC is really about the relationships we have with each other, as much or more than the relationships with the content… if not, where is the value in being ‘open’?

Here is a brief description of the relationships that I see between a MOOC, the teacher(s), and the participants:

MOOC content <-> Teacher

  • If the material is Open and Online, the design around how things are shared needs thoughtful consideration.
  • Participant contributions are distributed and so a component like the ‘Learner Activity‘ page is essential.
  • Social sharing/hashtag/conversation beyond learner activity content is essential.

Participants <-> MOOC Content

  • Content is open and easy to access and share.
  • Learning activity is open and easy to access and share.
  • Content is designed to go beyond information delivery and designed to promote dialogue and discourse.

Teacher <-> Participants

  • Focus on open, publish sharing
  • Teacher as provocateur, agitator. The course delivers the content, the teacher inspires the conversation.
  • Teacher as questioner, not answerer (more socratic rather than a focus on content delivery).
  • Social interaction – connections and conversations with other learners – are fostered.
  • I think there also needs to be intentional teacher presence if the conversation isn’t happening, and perhaps intentional teacher ‘tongue-biting‘ when participants are asking the right questions and contributing to each others’ learning.

Ultimately, learner experience in a MOOC is about fostering relationships between the teacher, the content, and the other participants to add value to what the course would be if it were not open.

It is about connectivity and networked learning, not just a student <-> teacher <-> content relationship.

I invite conversation, by all means, go ahead and disagree with me… ask questions, provide alternative perspectives. Help me learn.

T.I.C. – This is China – Blocking still works

Congratulations to the Great Filter Wall… it is alive and well, and doing it’s job. 

I’ve only heard rumours about why things are so slow here now, but I’m guessing they are right… It’s hard to create a digital ‘movement of the masses’ when connecting digitally, (and especially to the spaces where this happens), is painfully difficult. 

VPN’s (that bypass the ‘Great Filter Wall’) have been hit hard, even mine that has been stellar so far required me to get a new address from support to link up. Instead of linking through Hong Kong, my connection must now go through Los Angeles to connect. The slow internet, plus the longer connection route means it takes longer to connect, longer to load pages and impossible to do things like watch a video.

Teachers here with Yahoo or Hotmail will say to me, “What did your email say? I can get into my inbox to see you’ve sent an email, but I can’t open the message.”

I created a “Funhouse” for our club days, for a group of primary kids, and they have seen it, but not visited it yet. I did get to read the scrolling book that I pre-loaded the first day, but since then the internet has been useless and sending them to image-rich websites would be a useless activity. (I loaded the Funhouse link above to get the address to link it here and the page has yet to load as I type this.) 

So, blocking works. But at what cost. I’m scared to introduce Weebly to my staff because although it’s a great blogging platform that works here, I can only seem to get the editor to work after school when no one else is on the system. I know someone at Intel who says he can’t even upload work related photos on his home line. How many other businesses that rely on the internet are pulling their hair out? How do you do business in a connected world when the connection is severed? 

I don’t turn on Tweetdeck at work anymore because I don’t want updates to steal bandwidth from my teachers. I’m a disconnected principal that enjoys being a connected principal

The reality is that I’d like to think that information is free and accessible to all, but 1/5 of the population of the world have a filter on information, news… and learning!

Alan November: “Do learning”


Forgot that I had made a screen shot of this until I decided to clean up my desktop, (which at the time looked very much like Alan’s when he presents:-)

This goes well with my recent pairadimes post

We aren’t in the ‘teaching business’, rather we are in the ‘learning business’.

…and yes, Alan, we aren’t in the technology business either! 

The learning doesn’t stop when I hit ‘post’!

Comments make blogging a rich experience.

Comments on four of my recent Pair-a-Dimes blog posts have blown me away!
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… The learning doesn’t stop when I hit ‘post’! 
Check out the amazing conversations: 

Thank you, thank you and thank you to all who have ‘joined the conversation’… I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from and with you! 

Will Richardson ‘Almost Live’

So it didn’t quite work as planned, but then things seldom do.

I started to watch a recorded Will Richardson presentation and he had a backchannel going. I went to the link, but it had expired. I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great to start a new chat with some people and have our own backchannel conversation while we watched!’

 I decided to go on Twitter and invite others to join in and watch Will ‘Almost Live’ (#WillAlmostLive) with me. Patrick Larkin in Burlington, MA, USA joined me, Beth RG popped in, and Shannon Smith from Ottawa tried to join us. It was bad timing since although it was 8:30pm here in China, it was the start of a work day back in North/South America, and 11:30pm in Australia, where I seem to have most of my connections. 

Will Richardson said on Twitter: “@bhsprincipal @datruss Let me know what I say. ;)” – It would have been great to actually have him join the back-channel though I’m not sure I’d want to relive my own presentations in that way. 

Problems arose: Although I pre-loaded the video, (my connection here is painfully slow), it still stopped at about the 11 minute mark with over an hour to go. I couldn’t get the video to reload, and Patrick couldn’t get the slide show on Google documents. 

Solutions: Patrick Skyped me in and I copy-pasted quotes and points into the backchannel chat. I listened to Will Richardson’s Minnesota presentation from China, via a Skype call from Massachusetts, while Patrick in Massachusetts was getting the content of the presentation from China. 

We typed rather than talked so that we could listen to Will. We still had a good backchannel conversation. Although it wasn’t quite as planned, it was enjoyable to share in the learning. 

I still think this is a good idea. Why not run a conference session after the conference session? It’s far more engaging to have the backchannel running and sharing thoughts and ideas with digital colleagues. 

Asynchronous to the actual event, but synchronized to other learners. An ‘Almost Live’ presentation. 

What do you want to know about teens and social media?

Danah Boyd asked this very question, last June, and here was my response: 


I’m interested in knowing more about:

1. Gaming: As it relates to socializing with others vs isolating & playing on their own.

2. Friendship: Actually two things here, first, definitions of online friendship by teens, and second, more about the duration and quality of friendships teens are creating. I know that as an adult I have created some very meaningful online relationships (in my case with other educators) with people I have never met f2f, is this happening with teens as well?

3. Content creation (trends): What are teens creating and sharing online? Here I’m actually interested in the bleeding edge, where are they taking content creation to a new level? How are they ‘mashing’ things up?

4. Learning: How are teens taking learning into their own hands, what are they doing outside of schools to educate themselves and learn new things?


I’m still interested in these things… who can help me learn more?

What should we do with tools to make them great? » Online Sapiens

What should we do with tools to make them great?

David Truss (via @sabridv) suggests what we can do with tools to make them great

1. Give students choice
2. Give students a voice.
3. Give students an audience.
4. Give students a place to collaborate.
5. Give students a place to lead.
6. Give students a digital space to learn.

Compare this list to:

Stephen Downes Connectivism Principles:

1- Autonomy
2- Diversity
3- Openness
4- Interactivity and Connectedness

and to

Chickering and Gamson Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
3. encourages active learning,
4. gives prompt feedback,
5. emphasizes time on task,
6. communicates high expectations, and
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

As George Siemens posted, It’s not about tools. It’s about change.

It’s the change underlying these tools that I’m trying to emphasize. Forget blogs…think open dialogue. Forget wikis…think collaboration. Forget podcasts…think democracy of voice. Forget RSS/aggregation…think personal networks. Forget any of the tools…and think instead of the fundamental restructuring of how knowledge is created, disseminated, shared, and validated.


Eduardo did a great job of putting together several ideas around the same theme such that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts!

On my post David Warlick added, “Give the learners a sandbox.”
I like the idea of ‘Play’ and also that he changed ‘students’ to ‘the learners’.