Developing community in a MOOC
ETMOOC (http://etmooc.org) was about education and technology. It was supposed to end, but never did. Making it a community for students consisted of connected and involved instructors, lipdub in the beginning helped a lot, immediate responses to tweets and blogs kept students in. The atmosphere of fun and playfulness was created, and the community was a safe place to get things wrong. Sense of playfulness makes the participants go back to the experience they first had. Time did not matter as much as people from all over the world did participate.
After the ETMOOC the participants have gone and done other MOOCs and started participating in online activities of their interest even leading these conversations on-line. It changed the way they teach and connect with their students. It has changed the way they initiate and participate in learning. Crowdsourcing has become a tool to engage learners. The community is a network convening at different times and in different ways. Friendships have formed based on these connections beyond the structured course.
Multiple entry points are important to keep people in and help people to catch up on the course. Keeping the community going means we don’t shut it down. The aim is to keep the channels of communication open and the community alive.
Co-Learning and Authority
Co-learning is a commitment to learning together and knowing what other people are interested in. People need to be brave enough to show what they don’t know. Red queen hypothesis: If your world is not changing much, you don’t need to learn all that much. An example is a person moving from one culture to another and having to adapt and learn from their students and co-workers.
Learners expect what us to tell what they need to do. Tell them you know they can do this. There will be a lot of resistance. They need to know they will be generating something together. Inquiry driven learning in kindergarten can happen nicely. In grade school the undercurrent of right/wrong answers and standardized testing destroys this good start. We are faced with a lot of unlearning at higher education level.
We need to not be the “camp counselors” the students need to follow. We need a couple of lead-learners to start the process of taking charge of the student’s learning. Trust needs to be established to allow for learners to fail publicly. There is also the need to trust in the progress of co-learning. For example the editing of paper or product needs to be modeled.
Successful co-learning models
Balancing collaboration and individual interests can be a challenge. Learning to work with others makes you think who you are. It helps to divide projects to parts for different students. This keeps the self-driven part present while still working collaboratively. The purpose for the whole group was common for the whole group.
The participants in conversations can change the content and flow of it. We need to teach people to find help in their peers. We are not instructed to tell our weaknesses and not knowing. We need to model this for our students.
Networking allows us to collaborate and take a connected approach to teaching and learning. We need to change the higher education to cause change in lower levels of education. Now the golden handcuffs are put on kids way too early.
There are courses that no-one wants to take or teach due to curriculum and accreditation reasons. We need to take care of these obstacles to make a real change. Self-directed learning needs to be learned early. Agency and taking risks needs to be cultivated in higher education to improve learning.