Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning on MOOCs

Back to writing my blog after some time writing different types of papers and having been 'up to my elbows' in data, yes MOOC data, to make sense of the learning processes on PLENK2010. Helene Fournier and I have been quite busy over the past months analysing data and writing papers and preparing presentations, which we will post here as they are being published.

The post by Martin Weller on the responsibility of learners in a MOOC, and the comments to it, has made that it seems time to write some of the findings of our research here. The issues I found most interesting in the PLENK data relate to Martin's point on responsibility of the learner, the nature of active participation on MOOCs, the factors affecting active participation and how people on PLENK experienced their participation.

From the data (that we collected using qualitative and quantitative methods) it was clear that there are a number of issues that stand out.

  1.  Power relations on the MOOC
  2. Confidence levels of novice MOOCers
  3. The level of presence of participants and facilitators
  4. The willingness to help by all involved.
Participants felt they had a new responsibility to actively participate  in new ways: eg. by aggregating resources, by RSS or Twitter, to do something with these resources, but not necessarily in the way that the facilitators would have hoped for, by actively producing something. The majority of participants (1580 were not really big producers, there were only around 60 people who did this) shared resources with other participants, but also with people outside the MOOC. The level of creative production very much depended on the level of confidence of the participant and the the amount of time the participant had to invest on learning in the MOOC.

I have included here a link to the slidecast of a presentation I gave of a paper on New Dimensions to Selfdirected Learning on Open Networked Learning Environments, that Helene Fournier and I  prepared for the 25th International Self-directed Learning Symposium that was held in Cocoa Beach, Florida earlier in February.