Current Exploration on Creative and Transformative Education

I have been engaged in a collaborative exploration on “creative and transformative education” run by Peter Taylor who directs the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston.  My thinking related to creative and transformative education is still in a very unsettle space.      Below are the threads I’m starting to considered based on the three goals of the case.

a) expose a variety of possibly competing views of “Creative,” “Transformative,” and their combination;

I began here by searching for “transformative research” since any doctoral program would need to make the case on what new knowledge and research would it be preparing its students for.  The National Science Foundation put out a report in 2007 (https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/documents/2007/tr_report.pdf) calling for the NSF to fund and support more “transformative reserach”.  In the context of the report concepts of “risk,” “innovation,” and increasing openness to paradigm shifts.  The NSF defines “transformative resaerch” as:

research driven by ideas that have the  potential to radically change our understanding of an important existing scientific or engineering  concept or leading to the creation of a new paradigm or field of science or engineering. Such  research is also characterized by its challenge to current understanding or its pathway to new  frontiers.

In particular the report looks at the resistance to change that comes from long standing institutional and cultural practices in the field of scientific research.:

Experts in the areas being challenged (many of whom may sit on  review panels) may dismiss such ideas by pronouncing the research overreaching or without basis. Consequently, such ideas can remain hidden or discouraged and their breakthrough discoveries delayed or even missed. (p. 4)

I was also able to locate a call for transformative research in the social sciences (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/funding-and-guidance/funding-opportunities/23831/transforming-social-science.aspx) put out by the Economic and Social Research Council which is the largest funding agent in the UK for research in the economic and social issue arena.  Issued for the 2012-2013 funding cycle, it is a relatively new push with a focus on “innovation” and “risk” as well.

 We regard transformative research as that which involves pioneering theoretical and  methodological innovation. The expectation is that the transformative research call will  encourage novel developments of social science inquiry, and support research activity that  attracts an element of risk.( p.1)

Some of the possible characteristics of transformative research according to this call include (p. 2):

  • results that will radically change accepted thinking in the social sciences
  • research that may be high risk but with the possibility of high reward
  • research that is carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of
  • knowledge and new thinking/insights

The next line of inquiry in this area would be to look at concepts of “creative research” and transformative research in the context of the educational field.

b) draw employment possibilities from their own location in the world;

Thinking on who might be the potential audiences for a doctoral program in creative and transformational learning it occurs to me that these might be possible candidates: 

  • Those working in fluid and changing contexts
  • Organizational leaders with diverse staff and customers / constituents
  • Those at the intersection of sectors, fields or disciplines
  • Individuals responsible for managing complex problems with diverse stakeholders
  • Those in transnational / global environments
  • Those seeking new ways to research and explore areas in new ways

I was then thinking about programs that are out there and have “non-traditional” or alternative concepts of graduate education with the idea that they might trigger ideas for promotion and language.  The European Graduate School’s Expressive Arts PhD  and Goddard’s MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts were two examples I was starting to explore along this thread.

The next step in this line of inquiry is find some additional examples and try to synthesize their approaches.

c) do blue-sky thinking about what kind of mid-career or mid-life creative and transformative education that would attract their personal interest

Thinking about the kind of program I would attract me, I jotted down these elements.

  • A program that would ideally attract an extremely diverse set of students with varied experiences, research interests, and personal backgrounds
  • Provides many, many opportunities for these students to interact and learn from one another — a learning community — Peter Taylor has been exploring the idea of a studio and in a previous collaborative exploration Marius Foley talked about elements of a co-constructive design environment. here Peter’s Studio idea,  Marius’s criteria above
  • Demonstration or mastery would take multiple forms an not just a written thesus (need to find examples)
  • A small set of required core courses that focus on inquiry, research, engagement etc — similar to 3 core research and engagement courses in CCT program — 1 initial course designed to allow students to identify their core interests and begin a learning map of additional courses that will meet their goals.
  • How can you design a program that seeks creativity and transformation without being too prescriptive?

I am going to continue thinking on what I would desire. I also started an inquiry in the term “doctorate”

  • The term doctorate comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach.”
  • At the university, doctoral training was a form of apprenticeship to a guild.

Resources

I’ve also collected these resources to follow up on mostly prompted by Dan’s paper on practice-based research.

  • Hanson, Phil and Baron Bruce 2009. Research-Based Practice: Situating Vertical City between Artistic Development and Applied Cognitive Science.  TDR/The Drama Review, Winter 2009, Vol. 53, No. 4 , Pages 120-136 (doi: 10.1162/dram.2009.53.4.120)
  • Leary, Mark R. 2001. Introduction to Behavioral Research Methodology. 3rd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

  • PARIP. n.d. Practice as Research in Performance. University of Bristol, www.bristol.ac.uk/parip/ (5 September 2008).

  •  
  • Art & Research – http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v2n2/busch.html

Borgdorff‘s vision of artistic research

Embedded in artistic and academic contexts, artistic research seeks to convey and communicate content that is enclosed in aesthetic experiences, enacted in creative practices and embodied in artistic products.

 

Engaging in MOOCs: Exploring motivating factors and goals of diverse learners

NOTE:  this piece was update on 4/28 at 6:11pm EDT.

A good chunk of my adult life has been involved in community-based and group level endeavors that sought change, both large and small.  These efforts have included a band of college students searching for a more fulfilling learning experience, a cooperative house dedicated to egalitarian decision making, neighborhood groups fighting to maintain cultural and physical assets, women banding together to move themselves out of poverty through job skill training, and organizations working to protect free speech, increase community capacity, build creative connections or support newcomers or youth in gaining power.  To some degree or another, these efforts have involved individuals who were motivated by some level of self-interest with a belief that action with others was an effective and necessary strategy.  However, often these self-interests melded and expanded a larger set of collective concerns.

Throughout these experiences, I have always been intrigued by why individuals engage in anything?  What prompts a person to volunteer, vote, act, create or even learn?  How do we create environments that welcome engagement?  Can these environments be crafted to meet the needs of heterogeneous publics? What is needed to ensure that those environments are nimble enough to adapt to the changing needs, skills, interests and capacities of its various members?

Over the last year, I’ve been engaged in a half dozen MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses).  The topics have including the technical (e.g. Social Network Analysis, Learning Analytics) to the cultural (e.g. e-Learning and Digital Cultures, Learning Creative Learning).  They have been offered in a variety of platforms (e.g. Coursera, Canvas, P2PU).  They have employed instructivist and connectivist pedagogical theories.   As a result of these experiences, I have connected with others who are interested in technology, learning, and engagement processes.  We have tried to make sense of our own learning experience in MOOCs and think through what these environments mean for new individual and collective inquiry.  I have also tried to understand how this learning environment relates to my own interests in engaging environments.  Through these learning experiences, conversations, and reflections, I have come to think of MOOCs, especially those informed by connectivist ideals (cMOOCs), as something different than a course.  Rather, like many other spaces where I have found engaged individuals (i.e. neighborhood parks, city streets, a community art gallery, social media), I have come to understand MOOCs as a public learning commons.  Spaces individual learning and inquiry connects with that of others towards a larger set of social learning .

M.K.Stewart in a post on the U.C. Davis blog The Wheel, talks about the experiences of engaging in the e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC as a participatory community of learners.  Linking that experience to a MacArthur Foundation report by scholar Henry Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture, Stewart writes:

Because MOOCs are voluntary and are taught online, the features that traditionally dictate the make-up of a classroom are irrelevant—quite literally, anyone with internet access and a few available hours a week can participate. In eLearning and Digital Cultures, the one thing we had in common was an interest in the topic, and the only reason we were compelled to complete the MOOC was sustained interest in the community.

It is this idea of “sustained interest in the community,” that has been the focus of my most recent inquiry. This inquiry has explored how and why individuals engage or participate in MOOCs generally, and cMOOCs specifically.

A recent working paper out of Stanford University using data from three computer science course designed for those with a high school, undergraduate and graduate level education.  The courses were primarily of the instructivist, or xMOOC, variety with course video lectures and graded assessments.   Through a cluster analysis of standard learning analytic data drawn from these courses, the authors described four “prototypical trajectories of engagement:”

  • Completers – most video lectured watched, assessments completed and course credit received
  • Auditors – video lectured watched, sparse engagement with assessments, and not course credit received
  • Disengagers – videos watched and assessments completed at beginning of class and then decreased or stopped engagement
  • Samplers – watched a few video lectures, usually at the beginning of the course and occasionally after the course was under way

source: M.K. Stewart, e-Literate

On the blog e-Literate, Phil Hill shared an emerging typology of student engagement gleaned from course analytics of Coursera-style offerings and engaged conversation with colleagues.  The typologies share much in common with the Stanford working paper above.  Hill articulates five levels:

  • Active Participants – These are the students who fully intend to participate in the MOOC and take part in discussion forums, the majority of assignments and all quizzes & assessments
  • Passive Participants – These are students who view a course as content to consume. They may watch videos, take quizzes, read discuss forums, but generally do not engage with the assignments.
  • Drop-Ins – These are students who perform some activity (watch videos, browse or participate in discussion forum) for a select topic within the course, but do not attempt to complete the entire course. Some of these students are focused participants who use MOOCs informally to find content that help them meet course goals elsewhere.
  • Observers – These students login and may read content or browse discussions, but do not take any form of assessment beyond pop-up quizzes embedded in videos.
  • No-Shows – These students appear to be the largest group of those registering for an Coursera-style MOOC, where people register but never login to the course while it is active

source: M.K. Stewart, e-Literate

Hill’s typology has more nuance than the Stanford paper, although I probably would still keep the category of a “disengager.” However, I’d probably rename it to something more like “drop-outs.”

Still, these typologies are primarily descriptive of the individuals involved in these MOOCs.  They don’t capture that next level of understanding, which is related to the motivations or goals driving the engagement.  They also don’t fully measure engagement that goes beyond consuming course content and completing assignments.  How do you capture conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and blogs?  What about intereactions of subgroups within the larger MOOC community?  How might we measure shares, retweets, and likes?  How are people connecting outside of the formal forum or discussion board of a class?  How are individual students helping each other? What do these MOOC-based  social networks look like?

Understanding the motivations and breadth of engagement activities would help better inform the design and teaching strategies used to keep “sustained interest in the community.”  They also seem to lack a conception of engagement as an activity or entity in itself.

Hill does talk about learner goals a bit in a post that preceded the one above which is worth noting.   Ethan Zuckerman, in a recent keynote address to the Digital Media and Learning Conference, explores more fully the concept of engagement.  Zuckerman posits two vectors  (thick / thin and symbolic / impactful) that define engagement practices and work to form four quadrants of engagement:

  • Thin and symbolic – acting is online only in things like online petitions or liking a cause
  • Thin and Impactful – a simple action which itself might be thin, but whose impact is meaningful, such as voting
  • Thick but Symbolic – lots of activity and work in a manner that may result in primarily symbolic change or attention such as the actions of the Occupy movement.
  • Thick and Impactful – full participation, but often works best in small groups such as neighborhood change.

I took these ideas of “thick and thin” and applied them my experience and thinking about MOOCs and engagement.  At the same time, I was thinking about how individuals in MOOCs seemed to prefer working independently or with others (interdependently).  This may align with a third vector that Zuckerman adds related to scale (individual, small group, and social activities).  These ideas also resonate in Peter Taylor’s thinking about learning in microworlds, messyworlds and the real world.

So MOOCs present themselves as learning environments where individuals have varying capacity and interest in engaging (thick /thin).  They also have varying modes or preferences for engaging (independent / interdependent).  These interactions may serve varying levels of meaning for the individual and the community of learners (symbolic / impactful).  And while the MOOC is a large-scale endeavor, its ability to accommodate learning at a variety of scales is possible.

Thus, I’ve come to a mental model or metaphor of MOOCs being like the green quadrangle in the center of the quintessential college campus.  It is open to all in the learning community.  On a nice spring day, a formal philosophy class has pulled its chairs outside for a class session.  A study group for a Calculus class is swapping notes for an upcoming exam and another group of students are working on a presentation for a class on global markets.  Multiple individuals are reading, studying, and taking notes for a range of learning goals while occasionally stopping to share casual social interactions with passing classmates or peers nearby.  Another group of students are playing Frisbee as several groups are promoting a range of activities from end of semester events to political causes.  An acoustic guitarist has a small audience listening to her songs as professors and students pass through on their way to other spaces – classrooms, dorm rooms, offices, labs, coffee shops, community service activities, athletic practices.  Some of them may return later to the quad to engage in any range of activities form the educational to the social.

My interest now is how to design MOOCs and other open online learning environments in a way that can accommodate and respond to the varied demands that learners may have of them.  And how can such design facilitate the smooth transition back and forth between activities, as learners are able to understand what they need and aspire to.  And can such environments support and recognize these varied needs.

Here I am starting to explore the role that instructional designers, teachers, leaders, mentors and peers play in engaging and motiving leaders.  How do they encourage sharing? How do they create models of peer support?  How do they orient learners to the processes of engaging in such a learning environment?  How do they help learners connect to and “know” each other?  How do they encourage feedback and response from peers as a motivating factor?

Thus, rather than pure sets of technologies and structures, how do we ensure that MOOCs are able to create and re-create a set of social and cultural practices that unleash the learning potential and agency of us all?

Panic, disorientation, risk, trust, self-efficacy and transformative learning

image by Charity Johansson

As part of a Creative Exploration (CE) on cMOOCs, Rhoda Mauer at Cornell has been posting comments and resources related to concepts of panic, trust and storytelling.  At the same time, Peter Taylor, who is also part of the CE, is talking about a possible new collaboration on transformative education. These conversations intersect with my attempts to understand the power of shifting perspective and building confidence and competence (self-efficacy) that may result from being in a new or unique learning environment.

A brief Google search on the terms “disorientation learning trust” got me to a piece on transformative learning.  So my exploration is turning to learning more about “transformative learning”.

In a Journal of Environmental Education piece, D’Amato and Krasny (2011) write:

Transformative learning is often precipitated by a “disorienting dilemma,” which is followed by critical self-re?ection, social interactions, planning for action, and building competence and self-con?dence in new roles and relationships as a result of taking action (Mezirow, 2000). Such learning could result in personal growth as well as in questioning and changing one’s behaviors toward the environment (instrumental learning). (p.239)

Kucukaydin and Cranton (Adult EducationQuarterly, 2013) also reference Mezirow as four distinct types of transformative learning:

  •  developmental (Daloz, 1999)
  • emancipatory (Freire, 1972)
  • extrarational (Boyd,1989)
  • rational (Mezirow, 1991)

Keegan (Asian Social Science, 2011) also speaks to four processes in transformative learning (critical reflection or feedback,  reflective discourse or evaluation, and action related to learning and teaching quality).  that resonate with the 4 Rs  and Probe-Create-Change-Reflect modes that Peter Taylor talks about as well as the experience I had during the EDCMOOC offered Coursera by U of Edinburgh.

Let’s see where this creative exploration path takes me.

 

 

Civics, digital badges and alternative assessment: Preparing students to be engaged citizens

I have a new working paper on digital badge and civics released today as part of CIRCLE’s working paper series.  The paper explores digital badges and alternative assessments for civic skills, knowledge, and dispositions and is entitled “New and Alternative Assessments, Digital Badges, and Civics: An Overview of Emerging Themes and Promising Directions.” It also considers digital badges as well as ePortfolios, rubrics, games, simulations, and other assessment and learning tools that might expand options for those committed to improving civic education. The working paper is also summarized in an online presentation.

 

Self-Organization in the #EDCMOOC

Keeley Sorokti just wrote up some really excellent thinking on the ideas of scaffolding as it relates to the recent eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC offered up by the University of Edinburgh on Coursera.  Given that my background isn’t in education, I tend to think of these things in relation to engagement, participation and community building.  Opportunities, access, motivation, connection, belonging and collective action are often the terms that guide my thinking about how environments, both virtual and real, make for a successful public sphere.

For a couple of years I’ve been thinking about self-organizing systems as they apply to community-based organizations.  Recently ideas such as connectivism and networked learning environments have entered into my thinking.  So, I thought it might help for me to pull out the features of self-organizing projects and map them against the EDCMOOC.

Feature Description / Importance / Role
Plateaus / Frameworks / Boundaries Organizing spaces or defined scope that shapes the problem space.   Can be a physical, virtual or conceptual space or goal.  Keeps the actors in a focused area.

The EDCMOOC did this through the construct of a class with defined content blocks and activities.  The MOOC was the container for this system.

Heterogeneity / Differentiation Variance in the systems of actors, ideas, roles.  Too much similarity will not create the tension or conflict necessary to move the system forward.

The EDCMOOC provided multiple platforms for communication and engagement (e.g. Coursera forums, Google G+ community, Twitter, Facebook) and presented content in a broad and open enough manner to appeal to a variety of interests.  By reaching a global community and engaging thousands of individuals there was more diversity than in a traditional class, although there were gaps or lack of certain perspectives (e.g. those without access, those in more disenfranchised settings, etc).

Ambiguity Some amount of non-definition that leaves room for questions, exploration and introduction of new ideas or pathways that were not planned for or expected.

Content in the EDCMOOC was presented in thematic blocks.  There were choices and avenues for exploration.  The main assignment was intentionally vague to invite a myriad of interpretations.

Boundary Objects A set of tools or concepts that are “plastic” enough to be bent and used by different actors in different ways, but still can act as a “glue” of sorts.

The EDCMOOC boundary objects were the electronic communications — emails, tweets, fb posts,  blog entries and collection of additional creative tools that allowed for a range of expressions.

Connections / Mulit-level / Polycentric Importance of many connections between actors both vertical and horizontal as well as multiple actions and centers of activity.  Lends to robustness and resilience.

The EDCMOOC probably succeeded most in this arena.  By de-centering the instructors, creating relatively open thematic blocks and proposing multiple communication blocks, the MOOC was able to allow for leaders and passionate users to emerge and connect across multiple platforms.  Many of the participants mapped these interactions to demonstrate the broad network.

Feedback / Learning / Adaptation The system should allow for new information and lessons learned to move throughout the system and adapt accordingly.

The EDCMOOC had enough structured interactions (e.g. Google Hangout, Twitter Chats, defined meeting spaces) that individuals interested in engaging could collective share and discuss.  The open, self-directed nature of the environment also allowed for individuals to find new pathways and thinking on new resources in relation to the proposed themes and ongoing discussion of participatns.

Coordination / Influence / Control Not a command and control style, but rather will maintain the system by which information gets integrated and moved throughout the system.  May play a categorization or prioritization role or facilitate such processes happening.

Clearly the instructional team for the EDCMOOC at the University of Edinburgh played a critical role in defining the  the content, orchestrating the release of that content, and providing top level information and communication.  Addiitonally, multiple node of coordination emerged throughout from participants themselves from the core group who created resources prior to the start of class, to organizers of the Twitter chats, to folks like Keeley who scheduled real-time gatherings and interactions.

New Additions to My Learning Ecosystem

Keeley Sokoti has been engaging in a number of conversations with myself and others in the MOOC about ways to support and extend learning within MOOCs and other online environments.  A number of these folks have been engaged in an asynchronous VoiceThread discussion over the last couple of weeks.   Keeley orchestrated the convening of a group of us in a Google+ Hangout earlier today and now these individuals are part of my learning ecosystem in an even stronger way.  Most of them have blogs where they capture their thoughts.  Check them out:

Keeley’s Blog: http://gatherwithpurpose.wordpress.com/ 
Rick’s Blog: http://drrbb2nd.blogspot.com/
Beth D.’s Blog: http://selfdirection.blogspot.com/
Fran’s Blog: https://elearningmoocedinburgh.wordpress.com/
Henry’s Blog – http://henryjburnett.wordpress.com

Virginia, I am sure, will in the not too distant future be publishing her thoughts on line as well.

Expanding Our Mental Models of MOOCs – #edcmooc

As I’m exploring the contours and shape of MOOCs through the eLearning and Digital Cultures MOOC, I am confronted by a whole set of acronyms — xMOOC, cMOOC, mobiMOOC, moocl, SOOC, modMOOC.  At the same time I’m thinking through the critiques of MOOC including who they do and don’t serve or what is an isn’t possible within these environments.

Like many things, early movers in new technology realms, like Coursera and Udacity, which also have the ability to leverage resources — human, financial, technical — get to define and build the landscape.  They become our de facto understanding of what a MOOC is or what is possible in the framing of “open education.”

Yet there are other models possible and other endeavors underway.  Peer-2-Peer University allows anyone to create a course while providing a portal for reaching larger audiences than any individual effort could on their own.  The Online University of the Left askew the capital market place rationale of the early movers.  The University of the People tries to combine online learning but modeling ways to increase access and prevent cost from being a barrier.  Mobile technologies, which more individuals globally have access to, are also being leveraged for MOOC-type learning with a development bent.

Now there will be those who say these are not MOOCs, but they definitely are in the OOC vien.  Do we even know all o the multiple ways in which content on those platforms we identify with MOOCs are used?  It seems that we need all the models we can get.  Experimentation, innovation, working things out.  Surely some will fail which is far preferable to having one set idea of what it is to expand learning online in the vien of open education.

Experimenting with Asynchronous Embodied Discussion – #edcmooc

A couple of years ago I was looking for a way to bring a sense of embodied-ness to an online class where students simply couldn’t be together synchronously.  The traditional discussion board was good, but had limits.  So in seeking tools that might help with this snag, I came across VoiceThread.  Since then, I’ve used this tool quite a lot to allow for project presentations and peer feedback.  Students have loved it.

So, I thought I would test out the possibility of having  an asynchronous, voice discussion with individuals participating in the e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC.  Herre are the steps:

  1. Click on the image above and it will take you to the VoiceThread for this discussion.
  2.  Hit play and listen to what has been contributed thus far to the discussion.
  3.  If you want to add your own thoughts, press “comment” (you will have to sign in or register – sorry).
  4. Choose the “record” option and record your voiced contribution to the discussion.(try not to use “text” it defeats the embodied purpose and unfortunately I don’t have an account level that would accommodate video).
  5. Click “stop” and then “save.”

I am likely to provide some sort of synthesis of what folks share for those who don’t want to  take the time to listen to the whole discussion (if one ends up happening).  Mostly, I’m interested to see if folks have ideas on how else to created embodied presence asynchronously.  I’m also interested to hear how others might use a tool like this as well.

UPDATE:  The original VoiceThread for the eLearning and Digital Cultures now has over 50 voice comments and a small group has now progressed to scheduling a real-time Google Hangout.  I am now drying to jumpstart a VoiceThread for the MIT Learning Creative Learning MOOC.  That VoiceThread can be found here – http://bit.ly/YxC7ff.

Who are the MOOCers?: A Collaborative Brainstorm Activity – #edcmooc

Word cloud courtesy of Letty Mills Barnes

So the various metaphors to replace the digital native / digital immigrant concepts got me thinking, “How do I think of the folks in this MOOC?”  Then I started to think, “How do others think about them?” I know what some folks think, but are there more metaphors and adjectives out there?

At the same time, I’ve been working out concepts of sense-making within the context of a MOOC.  Then I thought about a tool Peter Taylor in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston uses a lot in his classes related to brainstorming and sense-making.  So I decided to experiment with it for the #EDCMOOC.

So here is the process:

  1. Figure out a question or bit of information you’d like collective brainstorm on.
  2. Create an input form using Google Docs – There are lots of online tutorials on how to do this especially this one from Google Help. – My Example
  3. The form feeds into a Google Spreadsheet like this (image courtesy of Dick Vestdijk):
  4. If you want others to see the results you can share the spreadsheet by clicking on the share button and making sure that the “Public” option is chosen.  You can make the spreadsheet “viewable’ or “editable”.   I wanted folks to see what others had entered so they could do what they wanted with it.
  5. You can also share the results via the editing function of the form.  One of the “More Actions” on this form is to “Edit the confirmation” and you can check off “Publish response summary”
  6. Once these form is created, promote via outlets.  I posted to the EDCMOOC Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ communities.  I shortened the Google link to the form using Bit.ly.

So the tool is actually quit simple.  I think the more challenging part is thinking about the process of bringing the collective ideas and thoughts of so many into some useable form.  Letty created the world cloud above, perhaps with a tool like Wordle.  I’m going to try to do a conceptual sort to see if certain types of MOOCers appear. UPDATE:  My first and second level sort can be found at this Google doc.

There is also a second attempt at this activity seeing what folks sharing their impression on “What is a MOOC?”. 

So these are my questions:

  • What would you do with this information on who are the MOOCers?
  • How would you use a system / process like this?

A proposed process for small group, synchronous dialogue in a MOOC environment – #edcmooc

So I’m thinking about ways in which small group dialogue might happen within the context of MOOCs like the e-Learning and Digital Cultures class.  The trick would be to create a process that would be easily replicable, not require centralized management, and could accommodate use by a diversity of learners found within MOOCs.  It would seem that this process is best be implemented after folks have settled into the MOOC and have had some time to start interacting with others.

I am wondering if a format developed by Peter Taylor in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston and published in the book Taking Yourself Seriously might work.  It is a 5-phase dialogue format for synchronous groups with minimal facilitation via VOIP (e.g. Skype), video chat (e.g. Goolge Hangout) or face-2-face.  Accommodations would need to be made for those with hearing barriers.

Dialogue hours are usually limited to 1 hour, but can be shorter or longer.  A limit of 10 persons is ideal so everyone has a chance to participate and technical snafus are minimized.  For Internet-based dialogue hours, each participant should have adequate bandwidth to engage in the dialogue.  With that said, services like Skype and Google Hangout still experience traffic problems and technical difficulties.

So here is the proposed process:

  1. Create a sign-up registration form using the form feature in Google Docs (or any other online form generator)
  2. Invite people to join the dialogue and send them the link to the registration form.
  3. Set a day and time for the dialogue hour.  The organizer could just set a time and date when putting out the invite or could work to find an agreeable time using a tool like Doodle.
  4. Send a confirmation email to participants and share the 5-phase format link with them along with the time, date and technical requirements.
  5.  Send a reminder to folks 12 to 24 hours before the dialogue hour.
  6. Start the dialogue hour making sure to leave enough time to allow folks to understand the process — determine whether or not you are going to record the dialogue to share with others outside the group, the default is to not record.
  7. Follow the 5 phase dialogue format (use the link to read about this in greater detail) — for Internet-based dialogue hours it helps to have a facilitator who basically keeps track of the time and moving folks through each phase and a person to monitor turn taking.
  8. Use a form to gather collective thoughts to share back out to group — determine whether or not you want to share with others outside the group, the default is to not share.

I think this process could also work in a more self organizing way, but I need some time to think on it and would welcome input on how that might get structured.

So would this work?   What is unclear?  Is it worth experimenting with?  What are the potential stumbling blocks?