Participant association and emergent curriculum in a MOOC: can the community be the curriculum?

Frances Bell, Jenny Mackness, Mariana Funes, Research in Learning Technology, Jul 07, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm totally agreed with this: "We propose the use of networking approaches that enable negotiation and exchange to encourage heterogeneity rather than emergent definition of community." The authors describe the progression of community in a MOOC in different social network services. They note that the number of participating drops, but the participation increases, with the result that a small group of people dominates discussion. This group (I would argue) is the 'group' that I have talked about that introduces negative influences in a learning to environment, that ‘warm glow’ communitarian notion of community... as a shared meaning".

This has significant implications to the question "can the community be the curriculum?" Does, in other words, community define praxis, values, thinking abilities and intended actions? It shouldn't, I think. Diversity is more important.  The authors write, "Tensions between the lack of agreed objectives, minimal curriculum and the need to form community impacted on the experiences of learners. This may have been an intentional element in the course design, yet from a theoretical perspective Rhizomatic Learning is intended to encourage heterogeneity rather than convergence to the discourse acceptable to the most active participants amongst hundreds."

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