Open Courses and Informal Learning in a Web 2.0 World: A Research Agenda

August 9, 2011, [MD]

I recently gave a keynote presentation at ICETC 2011 in Changchun, where I discussed some of the experiences from facilitating the course "Introduction to CSCL" on P2PU, and pointed towards some ideas for technologies and ways of organizing courses that could enable deeper learning in open courses.

Open Courses and Informal Learning in a Web 2.0 World: A Research Agenda

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I started by noting how we live in a world with an abundance of resources, and then mentioning some of the ways in which we can be informal learners. We can use "site-specific information-centric communities" such as StackOverflow to get quick answers to something, while we are working on a problem (I absolutely agree with David Wiley that this qualifies as learning).

Much of my learning happens in what I call "long-term distributed topic-based communities". This would be something like the "edublogosphere", with people who discuss issues and share information over a long time, held together through RSS feeds, crosslinking, Twitter-hashtags, etc. However, as Mike Caulfield pointed out, there is something very powerful about a cohort moving through a set learning path or collection of materials together. Open courses, whether they be small learning groups on P2PU, or big MOOCs, is about offering more people the opportunity to participate in such learning experiences.

I then discussed some of the issues that came up during our course, such as the "dream of amplification", the various dimensions of open courses, the dimensions of course organizer "authority" and our interesting experience with "threaded chat".

Finally, I discussed ways in which the course data could be analyzed and introduced two metaphors for organizing online courses: stimulus/response and divergence/convergence, and looked at how the latter model could be implemented in an open course based on a multitude of Web 2.0 platforms.

This talk, together with the links above, represent a lot of my current thinking and some of the research I would like to pursue. I would love to receive feedback, pushback and ideas. (PS: The slides are synchronized with a recording of my presentation - you won't get much out of them if you just view the slides by themselves).


Stian Håklev August 9, 2011 Toronto, Canada
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