Our first task for the the first week of the new MOOC by Dave Cormier is not so much reconcile cheating with learning but rethink learning so there is no place for cheating. A MOOC, especially a Connectivist MOOC, with rhizomatic roots is a good place to do that. Rhizomatic Learning is an attempt to assemble a community of people, some with knowledge of the focal topic, others with knowledge of other topics, to work together to fill each others’ chinks. More on the root system that allows single plants to weave themselves together into a single organism, and how Dave had taken that idea and applied it to online learning. I have to take care of a couple of my other blogs, one over at DMLL, about Digital Mobile Language Learning, and another for student work over at languagejapan.com.
But I will be right back with another post. About Burma.
I have always figured I am about 3 years ahead of my students, at least in adoption of technology for learning. But with this MOOC thing, I have leapt way, way ahead. The way universities are set up, the education system so entrenched and ossified here in Japan, I fear for the 2020’s (and figure not much will happen until then).
Japan’s Ministry of Education is promoting the idea of applying the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle to learning. Never mind that this was developed to improve assembly lines for Toyota in the 1960’s by W. Edwards Deming who has reached mythical status over the years. Teachers tell me it can be used for anything. Sure it can. But should it?
So how do we get from here to there? Baby steps? A gradual evolution? Or a revolution? Will digital citizens rise up and man the barricades, voting electronically to…do what? MOOCs of the Connectivist variety will require a lot of nurturing, and will get splashed with the backlash that is sure to come in the next few years of the emerging technologies hype cycle.
My students are woefully unprepared for autonomous learning. They have been instructed and directed down to the minute in a very efficient system for developing instruction followers. I am guessing they will become the engine for whoever will lead them. I teach one day a week at the leader’s school. The ones who will go into the bureaucracy to push Japan forward in the next few years. They leave me hope. They are willing to experiment, but only so far. Tiny tiny groups are allowed to do things differently, such as take a gap year. Are these baby steps enough? Should I try to foment a revolution? They say the best leaders are adept at spotting a crowd going somewhere and getting in front of it. I don’t see much movement right now. Hopefully it is just me.
The most profitable company for TV in its golden era, before cable and the Internet, was the TV guide. It made more than the networks did. Networks, for our younger readers, were large broadcasting companies that worked with local distributors (affiliates) to make a broadcast network, exemplified by CBS, NBC or ABC in the US.
I can’t help but feel that we are ramping up to that golden age very quickly for MOOCs, and whoever has the best directory will have tremendous influence over how the industry (and it will be an industry) develops.
Stephen Downes MOOC Guide is a good example of an open source guide. Coursera is working hard to involve so many universities that it will become a defacto guide in itself. Edx is offering its courseware to anyone who wants to install and use it.
One or more of these groups will eventually (and I think already has) offer the platform as-is for teachers to use to offer courses. A guide for that will also be essential in the near future. This guide would include the each platform available, the tools available, the requirements for hosting a course, and the outcome for both teachers and students.
In the age of digital citizenship, (currently being discussed at the ETMOOC), the educational component of that citizenship may well require access to a directory like this, either for learning or for teaching, and may even be required eventually for access to parts of society the citizen belongs to. One may have to take a course in the constitution before running for office, for example. Certainly driver’s licenses could have requirements that might be satisfied with a MOOC, and add a built-in support group for driving issues after the license is obtained, in case one gets arrested or breaks down.
Over at the #ETMOOC things are humming along nicely. So far, I would call this the Google MOOC, because a lot of the tools have migrated over to Google (calendar, G+), and I like it. I live in Google, just bought myself a ChromeBook and can’t put it down.
But as we tease out threads in the first couple of weeks, I have met a few new people, which is the best part of any MOOC (or conference, or trip, or meeting). This will help sustain. And sustenance is the key here.
Because this is already looking like the best cMOOC that I have had the opportunity to be a part of. CCK08 was nice and centralized, I think that was the one using Moodle. Then the short one in 2010, which left me in the dirt more because life got in the way than anything. I really liked Change11, mostly because it was stretched out over 9 months, and I could look ahead, pick and choose, and participate based on a longer term strategy.
Here at the #ETMOOC I see a balance being approached. The term is shorter, the interaction both more organized (on the macro level) and less organized (micro level opportunities for serendipity), and a huge amount of interaction (again, we will see if it goes beyond the third week swoon). Kudos to those who set up evening sessions, which are morning here in Tokyo. The lunchtime ones are smack dab in the middle of the night.
So I just want to share a new way I have found to follow threads. I read quickly, skimming, with some scanning in for terms related to linguistics, my field. If I see something mentioned twice, especially a link, I will follow up on it (catalog, and or curate it). This allows me to wander just enough that I can get back and cover most of the stuff to winnow out my nuggets. Like a news reporter, get a verifying source, and then follow up on it.
I have been doing research about technology and Attention, but am by profession (and professor) an English teacher. Language learning has included a lot of parallel research to technology, psychology or psycholinguistics (think Nick Ellis on Frequency of Input, and Emergentism, and Learned Attention and language as a Complex Adaptive System. More in the days to come. #etmooc