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Questions I’ll bring to #etmooc

January 15, 2013

Since I’ve participated before in connectivist MOOCs, the start of #etmooc has me thinking about why I’ve come back. Sure, I’m interested in the content of the course. The topics this course will explore come up daily in my work as an instructional coach, so I think this course will help me stay current on important, emerging themes in educational technology. Though I have great interest in the topics which will drive the course, I’m most excited to see the types of learner interactions that arise from this type of open format. I’m interested in the implications of this type of course for teacher professional learning. With that in mind I’ll look to answer the following three questions during this course.

What assumptions do participants make when evaluating this course as a learning experience?

Participants will compare MOOC learning to other types of learning they engage in and these comparisons reveal assumptions they have about what learning should look like. I hope to learn about the assumptions that learners bring to the course. Do teachers bring different assumptions than graduate students, for example? How do knowledge workers from a diverse range of employment and educational contexts respond to this open format?

How do active participants and learners engage with the course and other participants to further their learning?

What happens when connections start to form in a connectivist course? How do the connections among participants provide for some of the conditions of learning that an instructor in a traditional smaller course might provide, like feedback, or demonstration? Secondarily, I’m interested in discourse among active participants about “lurking.” In open courses I’ve been in, I have noticed what I think is a trend: Active participants in courses will initiate discussions about lurking and how to encourage lurkers to engage more in the course. While I understand the sentiment, I also think that active participants might have a stronger experience if they think through what the next steps for highly participatory learners are, rather than thinking through next steps for less participatory learners.

What processes or approaches to this course surface from active participants?

I’m interested in the reports that surface from learners about how they develop successful, personal processes for learning in open courses. Since the  course is comprised of so many choices and distributed digital content and texts, even the most veteran of the crowd of learners in this MOOC is likely, I believe, to rethink her approach to the class as the weeks go on. I’ll aim to capture these processes as learners share them.


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  1. Interesting article.

    “What assumptions do participants make when evaluating this course as a learning experience?” Your analysis/perspective hadn’t occurred to me. At least not along those lines. And I’m really interested in the experience of teachers and students, especially in the context of how they both can engage in substantially different ways with the same tech (what teachers want from a technology is not necessarily what students want).

    I’ve been watching comments, blogs, and session interactions, and what struck me was the difference in learning experiences, expectation/fear and content engagement based of differing prior knowledge levels.

    Lots of enthusiasm., but also fear and uncertainty amongst people less familiar with the technologies forming the coursework, and the technologies needed to connect with and make sense of community content too.

    Mastering the threshold concepts/troublesome learning involved in learning to organise and network in unfamiliar territory will probably be key to maintaining enthusiasm, and shaping expectations, and the differing levels of competence seem key in determining student expectation.

    Thanks for posting…

  2. As I read your post, I thought, “Open. Open mind. Open ideas. Step to the side, off the usual and see what could be.” As a teacher in the classroom in a traditional school with a test-skill-focus, I am trying to lead people from the past into today. It’s not easy, and reading your post, I am reminded of the motives we all carry for learning — that’s why it’s so difficult to bring about change. I think this course and your reflections may help me with my hope to help our school develop learning strategies for students today. Thanks.

  3. I particularly liked the observation that more active members might do better to concentrate on their enhancing their own learning.

    The questions of how individuals will organize their own learning seems to be a big one, at least early on. It perhaps is the most important question a teacher/learner can ask.

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