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Draft literature review on Open and Online Courses

This literature review is in the middle of being drafted, and thus very unfinished. I would appreciate any feedback, especially about studies not covered here, platforms or kinds of courses, dimensions of openness, theories or methods for analyzing courses not mentioned here, etc. Please don’t cite yet.

Blog post about tool I used to create this literature review

Raw notes

Introduction

This literature review will attempt to survey the literature on open online courses. Although defining open online courses is a challenge, something dealt with in the next section, we specifically do not mean open resource collections organized like courses (such as OpenCourseWare), but rather the social interaction of learners within an organized framework.

There is a large variety of such open online courses being tried out, and because the research field is so immature, there is very little shared understanding between the various authors in this review - they bring their different disciplines and theoretical approaches to the table, and typically only study one “incarnation” of open online courses (there were no studies comparing more than one “course model”). There are a number of empirical studies, but they are typically quite superficial, and the papers are generally theory-heavy and descriptive.

Defining open online courses

Given the large diversity of courses and learning experiences, it will be useful to start by defining what we mean by an open online course (OOC). Here are some of the terms and definitions provided by the literature

Definitions/terms

Focused on course aspect

  • Põldoja & Laanpere, 2009PõldojaH., & Laanpere, M. (2009). Conceptual Design of EduFeedr—an Educationally Enhanced Mash-up Tool for Agora Courses. In Proc. Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments-2st Workshop MUPPLE (Vol. 9, 98–102). invents the term agora course:
    • openly accessible content
    • open personal learning environment
    • free and open registration for participation
  • the literature on Massive Open Online Courses consistently use this term, and often define it, but never contrast it with other possible open forms of courses. Mackness, Mak & Williams, 2010Mackness, J., Mak, S. F. J., & Williams, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, Aalborg, Denmark. questions whether they should be called courses — participants expect too much structure

Focused on teaching

  • Couros, 2010Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, 109–128. defines open teaching “the facilitation of learning experiences that are open, transparent, collaborative, and social”. Is used especially about courses which are taught by university professors to for-credit students, but simultaneously opened up to others (see also Wiley & Hilton III, 2009Wiley, D., & Hilton III, J. (2009). Openness, dynamic specialization, and the disaggregated future of higher education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5), Article–10. . These kinds of courses have also been called Wiley wikis in the blogosphere, but I did not find any references to this in the scholarly articles.
  • This is very similar to what Couros, 2010Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, 109–128. describes as open teaching methodologies: an educational practice inspired by the open source movement
  • Fini, 2009Fini, A. (2009). The technological dimension of a massive open online course: The case of the CCK08 course tools. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5), Article--10. cites the use of loosely-coupled teaching to describe teaching on multiple Web 2.0 platforms

Focused on learning environment

Many of these terms describe something similar to a Personal Learning Environment/Personal Learning Network (which is centered around the individual), or a participatory structure - which is wider than a single course

  • Fini, 2009Fini, A. (2009). The technological dimension of a massive open online course: The case of the CCK08 course tools. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5), Article--10. introduces the concept of multi-tool learning environments
  • Corneli & Mikroyannidis, 2011Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2011). Personalised Peer-Supported Learning: The Peer-to-Peer Learning Environment (P2PLE). Digital Education Review, (20), 14–23. suggests the term P2PLE - peer-to-peer learning environment
  • Alevizou & Forte, 2010Alevizou, P., & Forte, A. (2010). Engaging with open education. In Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (30). describes an open participatory learning ecosystem
  • more generally, Seely-Brown and Adler conceptualize a participatory infrastructure
  • Wild, Modritscher, Sigurdarson (2008) talk about the mash-up PLE

Dimensions

There are three words in open online course, and all three are problematic. By saying that it’s a course, we are differentiating the learning interaction from individual learning projects, and networked learning, expecting:

  • a time-based aspect, a start date and an end date
  • a social and synchronized aspect: an identified cohort of people moving through the course together (although people might be able to join and leave the course at any time, or the course might have an official sign-up period, and not allow people to join after this point)
  • a concept of joining or leaving the course (which might be as simple as clicking a button, and might be as hard as a rigorous application process)
  • a syllabus or plan of some sort, however minimal (it could be quite elaborate with weekly readings or activities, or it could simply be planning to read one chapter per week of a book)

By saying that it is online, we differentiate from courses that happen primarily offline, or which requires participants to be co-located (however there can be various local/offline components to online courses). This enables us to exclude the many citizen schools, folk academies and anarchist universities around the world.

By saying it is open, we differentiate against closed courses. However, there are many dimensions (and gradations) of openness, and it might be worth coming up with some kind of typology to be able to classify the existing courses and platforms. Any research on open courses that looks at specific affordances of “openness” need to make these dimensions very explicit.

Some possible dimensions of open courses:

  • open syllabus - the main documents for the course are freely available (ideally without signing in). At this point, the course is just an OER, but this is a pretty basic requirement
  • resources are open - to what extent are the resources (readings etc) linked from the syllabus open? (open access, openly licensed, open source in the case of software tools required)
  • open signup - anyone can sign-up? some courses have selection procedures, such as P2PU courses.
  • participation is free of cost. No course fee charged for participating.
  • transparency (everything posted by facilitators and students is publicly viewable. Sometimes a free login is required, it is also rare that all interactions are viewable, this requires all synchronous sessions to be recorded)
  • no grades/coercion - in a traditional course, teachers can compel students to do various things through grading, both as a carrot and a stick. This is typically not available in open courses (although there could be feedback, both from a facilitator, and from peers)
  • no certification/assessment - this is changing rapidly, both through peer-based approaches such as badges, and institutional affiliations, as well as new initiatives such as MITx

The fact that we are distinguishing ourselves from

  • learning interactions that do not happen in course form
  • courses that happen primarily offline, and require students to be co-located
  • courses that are closed, proprietary, for-pay etc.

does not mean that our study cannot be informed by this vast literature, which it surely can and will. Indeed, some of the papers in this review, and many of the theories and research methods, focus primarily on one or more of the three “opposites” above. However, it is useful to choose OOC as a focal point.

Examples of online courses/platforms

There are probably many I am missing here, but some of the more well-known examples of course types, and/or platforms are listed below:

Wiley wikis and smaller individual courses

Although there have probably been many early experiments with free online teaching, such as Bob Dick’s e-mail course on action research, which has been running twice a year since 1997 (http://www.aral.com.au/areol/areolind.html), the idea of open courses as a concept primarily stems from a course that David Wiley ran in 2007 called Introduction to Open Education (Fini et al., 2009Fini, A., Formiconi, A., Giorni, A., Pirruccello, N. S., Spadavecchia, E., & Zibordi, E. (2009). IntroOpenEd 2007: an experience on Open Education by a virtual community of teachers. ). Wiley was an instructor at Utah State University, and his students participated in the course for credit, while outsiders could join for free, without receiving credit. He used a simple wiki for the syllabus, and students blogged on their own blogs, and used RSS feeds to keep up with the others.

This inspired a number of other attempts at something similar, most were on edutech topics, and many were connected to degree-granting institutions, mixing for-credit and non-credit students, however some where not. These courses closely followed Wiley’s setup with the use of a central wiki, and blogs, and were later termed “Wiley wikis”. Weller, 2010Weller, M. (2010). Big and little OER. distinguishes between “big OER” created by large institutions, using centralized production and funding, and “small OER”, which are the resources any of us might publish online in a decentralized manner. Perhaps we can similarly talk about “small open online courses”, as courses that are organized by individuals with no promotion or support from institutions or organized open learning communities.

These kinds of courses continue to this date, at a rate of a few per year, some using Wikiversity or WikiEducator, others hosted on autors’ private wikis.

Massive Open Online Courses

These are typically based on a specific learning theory called connectivism (see below), and the first example was Connectivism and Connective Knowledge in 2008. There have been a number of MOOCs since then, most listed on http://mooc.ca, and they are mainly about educational technology-related issues. MOOC courses typically features many hundred to thousands of participants (although most studies point out that only a fraction of these participate actively), and are based on some key content by the organizers (papers, weekly synchronous chat, invited speakers, etc), and a large extent of self-organization. MOOCs have attracted the preponderance of empirical studies on OOCs.

2nd generation Massive Open Online Courses

(I chose this title, and it might not be accurate - it’s more a fork in the road than a development, but they come several years later, and are being described as MOOCs by the public). This trend began with two courses launched by Stanford in fall 2011, Introduction to Machine Learning and Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. These courses were taught by famous experts in the respective fields, and attracted hundreds of thousands of sign-ups (and tens of thousands of active users). The platforms initially had very little social features, and functioned more like a cross between the Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative (OLI), and the Khan Academy. OLI has short snippets of text, followed by quizzes, simulations etc to test your understanding, and Khan academy popularized short film snippets (shorter than 10 minutes) using screen recording and handwriting, as opposed to the two hour long MIT OpenCourseWare style videos showing the professor in a traditional classroom.

Two things that the courses adopted from 1st generation MOOCs however, was the “eventedness” ([cormier2009muve]) with a co-hort, new material and quizzes released every week with deadlines etc (at OLI anyone can study at their own pace). There was also a large amount of self-organization outside of the official website, where students were helping each other with questions and answers on aiqus.com, Reddit.com and other social websites.

The first generation of courses led to two for-profit companies being formed, Udacity, which is so far specializing in computer science courses, and Coursera, which is working with a number of universities and launching a wide array of courses in many disciplines. We can also include MITx in this category, an extension of the OpenCourseWare project, which will provide courses with full online-adapted material and some instructor support, and the ability to get an “MITx” accreditation for a small fee. They are currently running one course on electrical engineering. There is a large amount of press about all of these initiatives, and a number of positive and negative accounts from students who took the courses, but so far, they have not been mentioned in any of the academic literature.

Open Course Communities

Both Peer2Peer University (P2PU) (see for example Schmidt, 2009Schmidt, J. P. (2009). Commons-Based Peer Production and education. In Consultado el. Harvard University. ) and University of Reddit are platforms where anyone can start a course, using existing open access resources. The advantage of the platforms are some technological affordances (although most course organizers also choose to use outside tools), as well as an existing Community of Practice around organizing courses, help with promotion etc. There has not been written anything academically about University of Reddit, but several case studies of individual or small groups of courses at P2PU. The courses are similar in form to the Wiley wikis, typically much smaller cohorts, and more organized than the MOOCs above.

P2PU has been very involved in researching peer-assessment, and pioneered the use of badges, which has now turned into the Open Badges Infrastructure hosted by Mozilla, and used by a number of organizations (Halavais, 2011Halavais, A. M. C. (2011). A genealogy of badges.).

Empirical/case studies

There are a number of empirical studies of specific OOCs, or OOC platforms in the literature, although they tend to lack methodological and analytical rigor. The studies are mostly descriptive case-studies (in many cases from participants, as facilitator or learner), or surveys and online interviews. There are also a number of attempts at leveraging learning analytics, especially for the MOOCs, which have many more learners and thus more “data points”. (Key members in the MOOC movement were also active in setting up the first annual Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference in Banff, 2011, and there have been two MOOCs on the topic of learning analytics).

Case studies by facilitators

Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7. wrote about a course he organized on P2PU to foster independent math study skills. The course was not judged to be successful, with participation plummeting in the second week, despite high initial enthusiasm. The author used this experience to propose paragogy, as a learning theory about peer-learning (described below).

Another article written by the facilitator, Couros, 2010Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, 109–128. introduces a graduate level course at University of Regina which had 20 for-credit students and 200 outside students participating. Reynolds & Heller, 2008Reynolds, F., & Heller, R. (2008). Peoples-uni: Developing public health competences–Lessons from a pilot course module. In OPEN WORKSHOP OF (28). describes the first course at People’s-uni, an OOC platform for delivering health-care related courses to the global South. Describes the design of the course to match certification criteria.

Participation and lurking

PLENK2010 was further studies together with CCK2011 in Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011Kop, R., FournierHélène, & Mak, S. F. J. (2011). A pedagogy of abundance or a pedagogy to support human beings? Participant support on massive open online courses. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 74--93., where they used several surveys, participatory ethnography, datamining and learning analytics. She found that a small group produced, and a large group “lurked”. There were very different levels of social presence and trust felt on different platforms (blogs, forums, Facebook) by different participants (some were more comfortable in certain places than others, some had more need for trust than others).

Mackness, Mak & Williams, 2010Mackness, J., Mak, S. F. J., & Williams, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, Aalborg, Denmark. conducted a survey and e-mail interviews in this course. She also discussed the low percentage of active participation (at 14%) and questioned whether this could be characterized as “free riders” or “novice behavior”. She found that sharing requires trust for many, and this, together with the freedom to self-organize, meant that many chose to organize in small safe groups, thus loosing much of the value of the heterogenous network. She highlighted the tension between the principles of MOOC learning as autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness, and the fact that the more these were present, the more likely participants’ learning was to be limited by lack of structure, support and participation.

Kop, 2011Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a massive open online course. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 19--38. used mixed methods, with a survey, discourse analysis and learning analytics to investigate the learning in a Critical Literacies MOOC with 377 participants, and PLENK2010. From the literature, she proposed that the four categories aggregating, relating, creating and sharing were key to learning, and tried to validate this through her study - she found that most participants did not fulfill most of these categories, but still reported satisfaction and learning gains. In fact, much of the benefit they derived from the course came from building their personal learning environments and nurturing their networks, actions that would have benefit far beyond the course, but which were mostly invisible to other course organizers, and the other students.

Håklev, 2011HåklevStian. (2011). Experience with CSCL intro course on P2PU, and ideas for future research., in his report on a P2PU course, also notes how a learner who was not signed up for the course, and had followed along without saying a word, reported a very positive learning experience that had had significant impact on his life — something that would not have been visible to anyone else without a survey specifically targeting peripheral participants. McAuley et al., 2010McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. also mentioned the impact on courses from having many lurkers, and the potential individual benefits of “lurking” .

Other studies

Fini et al., 2009Fini, A., Formiconi, A., Giorni, A., Pirruccello, N. S., Spadavecchia, E., & Zibordi, E. (2009). IntroOpenEd 2007: an experience on Open Education by a virtual community of teachers. describes the design of the first Wiley wiki course in 2007, and especially how a group of Italian educator who took part in an educational technology informal network decided to join together, and used the Italian infrastructure as a “back-channel” during the course. They also together constructed a final artifact for the course.

Fini, 2009Fini, A. (2009). The technological dimension of a massive open online course: The case of the CCK08 course tools. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5), Article--10. conducted a survey of the use of various web technologies in the first Connectivism and Connected Knowledge MOOC, and Waard et al., 2011de Waard, I., Abajian, S., Gallagher, M. S., Hogue, R., Keskin, N., Koutropoulos, A., & Rodriguez, O. C. (2011). Using mLearning and MOOCs to understand chaos, emergence, and complexity in education. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(7), 94--115. used a number of surveys to a study of a mobiMOOC on mobile learning, which had 556 participants, of which 74 were actively contributing. He sent out a number of surveys.

Finally, Fournier, Kop & Sitlia, 2011FournierHélène, Kop, R., & Sitlia, H. (2011). The Value of Learning Analytics to Networked Learning on a Personal Learning Environment. In 1st International Conference on Learning analytics and Knowledge 2011, Banff, February 27-March 1st, 2011. studied the MOOC Personal Learning Environments and Knowledge Networks, which had 1580 participants of which only 40-60 were active contributors. This study used a number of learning analytics and social network analysis tools, such as Pajek and NetDraw, as well as NVIvo for qualitative analysis of contributions.

Theoretical frameworks

The literature borrowed from a large variety of theoretical frameworks to explain and predict learning in OOCs. First, there are several main learning theories: constructivism, andragogy, paragogy and connectivism.

Connectivism

Connectivism is a “learning theory for the network age” proposed by Canadians Stephen Downes and George Siemens. Kop & Hill, 2008Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3), Article–9. presents the basic ideas, while discussing whether Connectivism can properly be called a learning theory.

View of learning

  • learning happens when learner connects to and feeds information into learning community
    • learning community is a node, always part of larger network
    • nodes varying size and strength (concentration of info and number of people)
    • learning transpires through use of cognitive and affective domains
    • learning process is cyclical
    • peripheries of knowledge fields porous, learners may traverse networks through multiple knowledge domains
    • act of recognizing patterns shaped by complex networks
    • internal, as neural networks
    • external, as networks in which we adapt to the world around us (Siemens 2006b)

View of knowledge

  • information is constantly changing (validity and accuracy change over time)
  • knowledge is distributed across info network, stored in variety of digital formats
  • learning and knowledge “rest in diversity of opinions” (Siemens 2008)
  • knowledge is “subsymbolic” (Downes 1996)
  • a recognition of a pattern in a set of neural events [if we are introspecting] or behavioural events [if we are observing]
  • the experience of a mental state that is at best seen as an approximation of what it is that is being said in words or experienced in nature, an approximation that is framed and, indeed, comprehensible only from which the rich set of world views, previous experiences and frames in which it is embedded
  • denies that knowledge is propositional (different from all other epistemologies)
  • other epistemologies are cognitivist - language and logic
  • connectivism is connectionist
  • not essentially based in linguistic structures
  • constraints and properties of linguistic structures are not the constraints and properties of connectivism
  • ‘understanding’ is a distribution of connections across a network.
  • to ‘know that P’ is therefore equated with ‘a certain set of neural connections’ that entail being in a certain physical state” unique to the experiencer of that state.
  • ‘deep thinking’ or ‘creating understanding’ are equivalent to the process of making connections, and that there are no mental models per se (i.e., no systematically constructed rule-based representational systems), and what there is (i.e., connectionist networks) is not built, like a model; but instead it is grown, like a plant

Challenges for connectivism

While constructivism has raised a large amount of excitement, as shown by the high numbers of people signing up for MOOCs, it has gotten very little traction among traditional learning researchers. Verhagen has criticized it as being “unsubstantiated philosophizing”, and Kerr believes existing theories do an adequate job of analyzing learning in the network age.

There have also been a number of challenges raised by the practical experience of course faciliators and learners.

Lack of scaffolding, deluge of information

Several papers pointed out the difficulties learners had in dealing with the large amounts of information and interaction without much preparation or support. The defence mechanism against confusion and large unstructured group is often for students to either disengage, or to find a small peer-community that can provide mutual support and structure, and drastically reduce the amount of information exchanged. However, Bell, 2010Bell, F. (2010). Network theories for technology-enabled learning and social change: Connectivism and actor network theory. In Networked Learning Conference 2010: Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning. warns that this tendency can militate against finding new connections, thus loosing much of the initial value of heterogenous networks (see also Mackness, Mak & Williams, 2010Mackness, J., Mak, S. F. J., & Williams, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, Aalborg, Denmark. ).

Bell, 2010Bell, F. (2010). Network theories for technology-enabled learning and social change: Connectivism and actor network theory. In Networked Learning Conference 2010: Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning. also notes that the aggressive filtering of information needed to “stay afloat” can lead militate against finding new connections, and the nurturing of fragile connections, or weak links — which are often seen to crucial for learning.

Power structures

McAuley et al., 2010McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. criticize the lack of focus on power in Connectivist analyses, noting that according to the theory, there are very high demands for autonomy, taking open positions and critiquing others publicly as characteristics of “successful learners”, however these are traits traditionally identified with privilege. Networks have power dynamics, and it is not equal who are listened to. This is also noted by Kop, 2010Kop, R. (2010). Networked Connectivity and Adult Learning: Social Media, the Knowledgeable Other and Distance Education (PhD thesis). , who cites research by Barabasi on the mathematics of distribution of nodes in a network, and the prevalence of so-called “supernodes”.

Andragogy

Developed by Knowles in 1980 to distinguish adult learners’ needs from young learners. Principles:

  • letting learners know why something is important to learn
  • showing learners how to direct themselves through information
  • relating the topic to the learners' experiences
  • In addition people will not learn until they are ready and motivated to learn
  • Often this requires helping them overcome inhibitions, behaviors and beliefs about learning

Criticized for principles being equally applicable to kids. Later reformulated to be more about the distinction between in-school and out-of-school learning. Paragogy based it’s five principles in contrast to the andragogy principles, and posit a continuum from pedagogy - andragogy - paragogy.

Paragogy

idea of paragogy

  • context as decentered center
  • peers are equal but different
  • learning is distributed and nonlinear
  • realize your dream and then wake up Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7.

reframe paragogy principles in terms of “deltas” - changes in peer-learning

  • changing nature of space (context as decentered center)
  • changing what I know about myself - metalearning
  • changing my perspective
  • changing content or connectivity
  • changing objectives Corneli & Mikroyannidis, 2011Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2011). Personalised Peer-Supported Learning: The Peer-to-Peer Learning Environment (P2PLE). Digital Education Review, (20), 14–23.

See Corneli & Krowne, 2005Corneli, J., & Krowne, A. (2005). A Scholia-based Document Model for Commons-based Peer Production. (M. Halbert, Ed.) Free Culture and the Digital Library Symposium Proceedings, 240–253. Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). GravPad. In Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, WikiSym '10 (33:1--33:2). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1832772.1832815 Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Problem solving and mathematical knowledge. Corneli & Mikroyannidis, Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. Crowdsourcing Education: A Role-Based Analysis. David et al., 2010David, C., Ginev, D., Kohlhase, M., & Corneli, J. (2010). {EMath} 3.0: Building Blocks for a Social and Semantic Web for Online Mathematics \& {eLearning}. ({Mierlus-Mazilu}I., Ed.) {1St} International Workshop on Mathematics and {ICT:} Education, Research and Applications. Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7. Corneli & Mikroyannidis, 2010Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2010). Live annotation and content discovery in personal learning environments. Corneli & Danoff, 2011Corneli, J., & Danoff, C. J. (2011). Paragogy. In Proceedings of the 6th Open Knowledge Conference, Berlin, Germany. Corneli & Danoff, 2011Corneli, J., & Danoff, C. J. (2011). Paragogy: Synergizing individual and organizational learning. In 1st International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge. Corneli & Mikroyannidis, 2011Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2011). Personalised Peer-Supported Learning: The Peer-to-Peer Learning Environment (P2PLE). Digital Education Review, (20), 14–23. Corneli & Ponti, 2012Corneli, J., & Ponti, M. (2012). Detecting mathematics learning online. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning. Corneli, 2012Corneli, J. (2012). Paragogical Praxis. E-Learning and Digital Media, 9(3). Corneli & Danoff, 2012Corneli, J., & Danoff, C. J. (2012). Paragogy Book.

Need for knowledgeable other

Many of the papers point out the need to have a “knowledgeable other” who can challenge learners, and push them in uncomfortable directions.

  • lack of knowledgeable other to challenge/introduce critical thoughts (Norris 2001, Freire and Macedo, Salmon 2004) Kop & Hill, 2008Kop, R., & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(3), Article–9.
  • freedom to self-organize means that groups organized in small safe groups - thus loosing much value of heterogenous network Mackness, Mak & Williams, 2010Mackness, J., Mak, S. F. J., & Williams, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In Seventh International Conference on Networked Learning, Aalborg, Denmark.
  • Greenfield 2006: need for knowledgeable other to challenge (also Bruce 2000 - avoid echo-bubble, technological affordances to expose us to uncomfortable ideas) Kop, 2010Kop, R. (2010). Networked Connectivity and Adult Learning: Social Media, the Knowledgeable Other and Distance Education (PhD thesis).
  • role of conflict for learning Lawler, 2011Lawler, C. (2011). Edit this space: participation and expansive learning in developing Wikiversity (PhD thesis).

Deep learning

  • the extent to which it can support deep enquiry and the creation of sophisticated knowledge McAuley et al., 2010McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice.
  • the breadth versus the depth of participation; McAuley et al., 2010McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice.

Goldhaber 1997: lack of deep thought/superficiality in online networks Kop, 2010Kop, R. (2010). Networked Connectivity and Adult Learning: Social Media, the Knowledgeable Other and Distance Education (PhD thesis).

Aggregation/convergence

Almost all open courses use some outside tools, while some are almost entirely based on distribution

case for PLE: learning takes place in complex ecosystem, rather than building monolithing educational structure, support fully distributed, decentralized, organic learning activities

importance of “hackability” of education system Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7.

(Blackboard as learned helplessness?) Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7.

distributed innovation vs centralized coordination Corneli, 2010Corneli, J. (2010). Crowdsourcing a Personalized Learning Environment for Mathematics. fth Doct, 7.

learners will make use of wide range of tools anyway (Willson et al 2008) Corneli & Mikroyannidis, 2011Corneli, J., & Mikroyannidis, A. (2011). Personalised Peer-Supported Learning: The Peer-to-Peer Learning Environment (P2PLE). Digital Education Review, (20), 14–23.

virtual learning environments → multi-tool learning environment (Anderson 2008: affordances of the net) Fini, 2009Fini, A. (2009). The technological dimension of a massive open online course: The case of the CCK08 course tools. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(5), Article--10.

A number of studies discussed the challenges both for facilitators and organizers in managing courses spread over multiple platforms, with many participants generating large amounts of posts. There are various approaches to dealing with this, scaffolding and training for learners, curation and support from course facilitators, and technological affordances that support filtering and idea convergence.

Authors suggested the need to scaffold wayfinding (Darken and Sibert 1996), and for learners to gain the ability to filter, and connect fragmented, diffuse and distributed knowledge nodes McAuley et al., 2010McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC Model for Digital Practice..

Many of the MOOC studies suggested that learners found “the Daily”, a daily newsletter compiled by the facilitators and distributed by e-mail, very useful for making sure that there is some shared context in the course, and avoiding overload. Some MOOCs used gRSShopper by Stephen Downes to perform this aggregation Downes & others, 2010Downes, S., & others. (2010). New technology supporting informal learning. Journal of emerging technologies in web intelligence, 2(1), 27–33..

Põldoja & Laanpere, 2009PõldojaH., & Laanpere, M. (2009). Conceptual Design of EduFeedr—an Educationally Enhanced Mash-up Tool for Agora Courses. In Proc. Mash-Up Personal Learning Environments-2st Workshop MUPPLE (Vol. 9, 98–102). suggested a platform called EduFeedr, which would intelligently aggregate RSS feeds and keep track of people handing in assignments, display linking between students, etc. He also coined the term “mash-up personal learning environment” to describe these kind of distributed environments (See also Põldoja, 2010PõldojaHans. (2010). EduFeedr-following and supporting learners in open blog-based courses.).

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