by Stephen Downes
Jan 13, 2017
This is my next MOOC; it starts January 30 and runs for 10 weeks. It provides an overview of my version of connectivism as it applies to teaching and learning. It covers a lot of the ground I've covered in my talks and papers, but as a single structured unit. Unlike my previous MOOCs, I've prepared a ton of video content ahead of time, so you can follow the course at your leisure. I'll probably want to do events and things during the course but I haven't planned these yet. But there will be opportiunity for interaction and participation. Meanwhile you can sign up at the Federica.EU web site - they host the course and designed the site.
Interesting site. It looks like they've scraped the talk and lecture listings of conferences, universities and some other major players and created these listings. I think this is only the surface - there's probably ten times or more lecture-type content available for free out there. You can also read more on the Find Lectures Blog (including the 'launch story' from December (actually, that's the only post)). It got a little push from Amazon.
This is a substantial report (182 page PDF) on the state of the art in MOOCs and their adoption in French Canada. Please note that the report is written in French. Robert Gregoire does justice to the origin, development and original intent of MOOCs (if I say so myself). The latter part of the report summarizes a survey on the adoption and use of MOOCs by French-language institutions in the country. The document is also supported with a number of direct interviews with representatives from those institutions.
Disrupting and democratising higher education provision or entrenching academic elitism: towards a model of MOOCs adoption at African universities
Patient Rambe, Mamello Moeti, Educational Technology Research and Development, 2017/01/13
MOOCs have the potential to support education in Africa. "The disruptive potential of MOOCs lies in their capacity to overcome the social exclusion of vulnerable groups based on gender, age, socio-economic status and ethnic origin." But the MOOC movement is not necessarily benign. "Behind the MOOC rhetoric of disrupting and democratizing higher education lies the projection of top academic brands on the marketing pedestal, financial piggybacking on the hype and politics of academic exclusion." In particular, "The core-to-periphery guise of the current MOOC system is unacceptable. It manifests in the design of most MOOC platforms and courses (with some exceptions) for consumption rather than adaptation." Well stated, and well (and extensively) argued.
This article makes the point that "the MOOCs are on to something." Why? Because they show that education at scale can be done quickly and cheaply. They may show this, but even more to the point, they show that there a hige demand for free or low-cost learning. But I want to point you to a piece of pure fiction in this article. Look at the graph, which shows the number of MOOC users rising exponentially. At the end of the graph, and without any data to justify it, it levels off over the year 2017. Why change the direction of the line like that? (The image is credited to Class Central but Class Central doesn't appear to have this image anywhere on their site). Via Helge Scherlund.
I've shown smaller versions of the metronome phenomenon before, but this version with 100 separate and independent metronomes is spectacular. It's an illustration of synchronicity, the idea that autonomous but connected entities can self-organize. What makes synchronicity possible is the medium of connection, in this case the platform holding the metronomes, which responds in reaction to their movement. Notice that there is never anything like a signal that "we must synchronize"; each metronome exerts an independent and meaningless push against the platform as a consequence of its ticking to its own tune.
Nice discussion of some of the recent concerns raised by danah boyd (covered in OLDaily here). One of the core arguments revolves around diversity. Diversity is hard, notes Jenny Mackness, because of our tendency to break into self-reinforcing homogeneous groups. Citing Paul Cilliers she notes "An abundance of difference is not a convenience, it is a necessity. Complex systems cannot be what they are without it, and we cannot understand them without the making of profuse distinctions." She notes, "Respect for differences and an understanding of diversity is a key ethical rule for complex systems." I don't see this so much as an ethical principle as I do it as an epistemic principle.
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