Jenny Connected



Caught between a MOOC and a hard place
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/09/05

There has always been quite a bit of push for us to structure our own MOOCs in a more rigid and pedagogically sound manner - people complained of drifting, of lacking guidance, even of not feeling welcomed and personally connected. So it wasn't a surprise to me to see a MOOC such as Lisa M. Lane's Pedagogy First Programme come along with that more rigid structure. It's designed to ease online novices into the process of teaching online, and so (the argument goes) a greater structure is required. The reactions, though, are a bit surprising. There is, for example, this post from Jenny Mackness expressing her difficulties with the concept. It's open, but "not 'open' enough to cope with the diversity of opinions presented by a diverse mix of novices and experienced online learners." Then there's Alan Levine, who questions the concept itself. "I am not sure people should not be teaching online without some level of basic experience being and doing online," he writes.

Today: Total:85 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Open Educational Resources and Pedagogy
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/06/14

Good iceberg graphic of the use and reuse of open educational resources. "We can take the iceberg metaphor and categorise them as

  • those above the water-line, visible, above board, properly licensed – the kind of resources produced by an institution to market itself
  • or those below the water line – where licensing is not so important.

These below the water line resources are easy access, free and easy to remix and repurpose, without much attribution.  This happens a lot below the water line." That's where I live. Below the water line. The slides are from David ('visitors and residents') White - here's the recording on Elluminate.

Today: Total:58 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Scholarship and the 'Tyranny' of Openness
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/05/18

Now I'm not sure how a course you don't have to take and can leave at any time could be called a "tyranny" but I'll deal with the question raised in this post head on: "Are we are attempting to impose our values (of openness, sharing, online learning as the future of education, etc) without a critical examination of what that means for practice and for individuals who are part of social organizations?" And the short answer is: no. For two reasons. First, nobody's imposing anything here; if you want to go back to your structured formal education, where you pay a substantial fee, there are thousands of institutions who would be happy to help you. Second, the openness (and the rest of it) is the result of a critical examination. As I have argued with respect to the principles of successful networks, if you want your social organizations to be effective at all, you need to embrace things like autonomy, openness, interatcivity and diversity. We select these principles, not because we're arbitrary, but because the best evidence tells us they work.

Today: Total:83 [Comment] [Direct Link]
#fslt12 MOOC – Week zero – discussion has started
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/05/17

The Change MOOC has come to an end, but if you need your weekly MOOC experience you may want to check out #fslt12 which has just started. "We have set up an Arrivals Lounge  where people can introduce themselves. And there is also a Course Questions forum, where we will try to answer any queries as soon as we can... in  the  Week 0 (Supporting Learning) area of Moodle (which is this run up week to the course), George has posted a great question to get us warmed up – 'What is Learning for you?'"

Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]
First Steps in Learning and Teaching MOOC – Update
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/04/05

I've had a bunch of people sending me information about new MOOCs starting up and I'm totally losing track. You can follow the development of the fslt12 MOOC here as the largely Oxford-based team begins to grow. I have to say, we've long way from Oxford's traveling library days. Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

A New MOOC for May/June – First Steps into Teaching in FE/HE
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/02/15

It's always a good day to welcome another MOOC into the world, "a short MOOC," writes Jenny Mackness, "for Educational Developers and all those interested in teaching and learning in Further and Higher Education. I will be working with Marion Waite and George Roberts, who has already started blogging about it here –" Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

IRRODL – A new edition has been published
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/02/06

Interesting article with the backstory to an IRRODL article on MOOCs referenced here last week. I love the bit about the reviewers ("We didn’t receive any guidance from the Editor as to which Reviewer to believe. So we didn’t do a major rewrite :)"). Also worth noting: "Reviewer B strongly objected to our use of blog posts as sources of information, and I have to say that we rather strongly objected to his/her objection." Mackness gives three very good reasons for her position:
- most of the conversations about connectivism and MOOCs happen in blogs
- we were worried that our paper was going to be out of date before it was even published
- neither of us works for an academic institution, nor do we live within easy access of a university library
I'm sympathetic. Most of my work has been published in blog form; from my perspective life is too short to have to deal with arbitrary reviewers and edits well past the point of diminishing returns. The result has been that the citations have frequently gone elsewhere. I understand the need for peer review - but we need a better system. Realted: MOOCs are here to stay, by Graham Attwell. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The place of ‘the teacher’ in relation to open content
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/01/31

We've had a cancellation and as a result are collectively catching our breath in #Change11, which is probably a good thing (it allows me to pause and catch my breath in CCK12, which also got off to a vigorous start). And Jenny Mackness gets at the central question we are trying to answer with MOOCs: "Sir John Daniel as long ago as 1996 warned that traditional universities cannot create enough supply. So the question that was raised is, how do we scale up teaching without simply throwing content at people." After more than three years working with MOOCs, I still think it's a good question. And I'm thinking about how we can improve the existing model to made them more engaging, interactive and supportive to learners. Today: Total:110 [Comment] [Direct Link]

‘Open space rewards consensus and punishes dissent’
jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2012/01/26

Interesting commentary about open spaces and dissent, following from some of Dave Snowden's comments in #Change11. As an aside - I don't get where this view that I have some kind of authority comes from. I have no authority. My academic credentials are from another field, and are inadequate anyways. I supervise zero people. I don't issue grades, pass or fail people, or impact their career prospects in any way. In theory I could maybe block some people from using one of my websites, but in practice I don't, and a determined person could probably get around any sanctions I would apply. The only authority whatsoever that I have comes from the weight of my words - and even then, I frequently remind people to disregard them, to weight their own opinions, and write their own words (preferably on their own website outside my scope and control). All this is in its own way a good thing. Because to the extent that I am in a position to punish dissent, I am weakened. Today: Total:58 [Comment] [Direct Link]

#Change11- Half way point reflections
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2011/12/19

Our #Change11 course has reached the half way marked and we're now one day into a much-needed two week intermission. In this post Jenny Mackness reflects on the first fourteen weeks, with links to each of the weeks (she might now be the world expert on MOOCs, having "now participated in 6 MOOCs and written 5 research papers as a result"). She reports what we have all, I think, felt - the rapidly changing topics week after week have been a challenge - but they don't get boring, either! She also encourages us not to change our approach just because of the low engagement - but it's not really that low, in my view: in addition to the more than 2000 people receiving the daily newsletter, we've had 38,000 visits and 135,000 pages read during the 14 weeks of the course - and that's just on the main site, not counting all the Twitter and blog posts read on other sites. And the have been 1300 blog posts harvested and almost 2500 tweets - you can read 766 blog posts online. I think what we have done much better this time has been to sustain participation (not that it has been easy, and I still think we could have done it better - though, again, as she says, "the whole point is to recognize that we need to learn in distributed open spaces and educators need to help learners to develop the skills to do this"). Today: Total:105 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Constraints and Change in ChangeMooc
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2011/11/29

Really good summary of the discussion in the #Change11 MOOC around the presentations made last week by Jon Dron. According to Dron, a weakness of an approach such as the MOOC is that there are insufficient constraints created by the software, and so the result is too 'soft' - people wander around, not knowing what to do. He recommends mechanisms that 'parcellize' the content, creating local environments. For example, suggests Mackness, "Tagging could be one answer. Tags can separate out spaces, so for example a ‘good for beginners’ tagged space could emerge." I offered a longish response, also posted in my blog. Today: Total:92 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Mobile learning: A tutor in your pocket
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2011/09/21

Jenny Mackness summarizes today's session in the #change11 MOOC. We had Zoraini Wati Abas with us to speak about Mobile learning (m-learning) at the Open University Malaysia. Here's the current week 2 web page with her presentation archive on the #change11 website. As Mackness summarizes, "22000+ students have benefited from mobile learning in Malaysia, which is used principally to reduce drop out rates from open and distance learning courses, even though these courses are blended."

As for us, we had set up a dedicated server to run our installation of Big Blue Button, and I had written a bunch of scripts to interface with the BBB API with a minimum of fuss. It all worked, but Big Blue Button staggered and then collapsed when the load reached 63 attendees. The sound, never good at the best of times, died completely. Barry Dahl was on hand to let us try FUZE, which worked for the 40 or so people who were able to make the jump. We've tried and rejected a bunch of things (I cancelled my WizIQ premium account today because it doesn't allow drop-ins without WizIQ accounts; Google Hangouts, meanwhile, have developed an audio problem). Maybe FUZE will be the ticket. Today: Total:74 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Change MOOC starts Mon 12th Sept 2011….
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2011/09/12

As Jenny Mackness observes, the great Change MOOC starts today with an orientation week. It's interesting to read what she perceives are shifts in some important concepts: "Diversity: has shifted from being about the diversity of the environments to the diversity of individual perspectives.
Autonomy: a subtle but important slight shift from managing your own learning to including recognition of individual values." Today: Total:77 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Recording of Etienne Wenger’s talk
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2011/06/13

Summary of and link to a recording of a talk given recently by Etienne Wenger. "I should like to draw the mountains I want to climb. But intentionality is a tricky thing, said Etienne Wenger. We are locked in the struggle …" Today: Total:38 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What's wrong with MOOCs? Some thoughts
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2010/12/22

Bets thing I've read all day: "To think of a MOOC as being wrong is to think of it as a course. For me a MOOC is the antithesis of a course. The principles on which it is based – autonomy, diversity, connectedness and openness cannot be reconciled with a course." If we could get people - including, ahem, some of those offering them - to stop thinking of MOOCs as courses, and to start thinking of them as something else, then we stop saying "what's wrong with MOOCs" and start saying "what can we do with them?" Today: Total:113 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Is lurking ever indefensible?
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2010/12/15

If lurking were disallowed I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do. I frequently follow along in groups, conferences, committees, etc., in lurker mode. Yes, it irritates active participants sometimes (sorry about that, SCC-ISO people). But it's how I need to manage my time if I am to participate in the event or discussion at all. And don't think it isn't participation - think of it as being akin to the role of scrutineer. My very act of watching has an impact (the desired impact) on the outcome of the proceedings. So I'm with Jenny Mackness - lurking should be tolerated, and people who don't like it should deal with their control issues. Today: Total:69 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Tyranny of Teaching Content
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2010/11/02

Good post from the PLENK course responding to the question of how to teach if you're not teaching content. "There is so much information out there, which is developing and changing so fast, that I can't possibly keep up with it, never mind hold it all in my head. The trick is to work out what knowledge/facts I must always have at my finger tips and what I don't need to hold in my head because I can search for the information on the internet." Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The place of content in teaching and learning
Jenny MacnessJenny Macness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2010/10/29

Reflecting on Maria Anderson's presentation in PLENK2010, Jenny Macness writes, " I wonder whether content is the starting point (I think Maria suggested that learners  need some content to base their learning on – or words to that effect) or whether there is an ‘engaging the learner' stage, a ‘learning how to learn' stage,  which precedes or circumvents content  – just as Matthias and I feel that e-resonance precedes online communication, and  whether ownership of learning or personalized learning means making it legitimate for learners to determine their own learning content." Today: Total:59 [Comment] [Direct Link]

#PLENK2010 Assessment in distributed networks
Jenny MacknessJenny Mackness, Jenny ConnectedJenny Connected, 2010/10/18

We discussed the question of assessment in distributed networks (ie., networkjs using PLEs) last week, and I confess, I'm not satisfied that we resolved this one. Jenny Mackness offers an intelligent discussion of the question and pinpoints the issue with this: "If we cannot rely on peer assessment and self-assessment (which we may not be able to do for validated/accredited courses), then we need more assessors." But there's no easy way to provide more assessors - is there? Today: Total:104 [Comment] [Direct Link]


(Still working on this)