A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses

Rita Kop, Hélène Fournier, Sui Fai John Mak, IRRODL, Nov 28, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

According to the authors, "it is possible to move from a pedagogy of abundance to a pedagogy that supports human beings in their learning through the active creation of resources and learning places by both learners and course facilitators." With an environment of abundant resources it becomes the student's responsibility to select and filter resources, and "one should question if all adult learners are capable of taking on this responsibility." They argue, "one of the major challenges is to create a pedagogy that supports human beings in their learning where the social connections people make on the network provide their learning support," and look at this through the example of the Massive Open Online Course, and specifically, Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge course (PLENK2010) and the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course (CCK11). The paper outlines the method and tools used to support the courses, and then describes a regimen of statistics and surveys that constitute the research itself. Analytics tools were also employed to visualize the networks of connections between people.

The authors note that "It is clear, however, that there were deficiencies in the support structures of the MOOCs." Some, however, found this to be an advantage. Either way, we see "the importance of making connections between learners and fellow-learners and between learners and facilitators." But "Scaling up to the majority in networked learning requires facilitators to adopt a multifaceted role so as to guide or influence the learners and communities to get involved and embrace social media practices." They argue that interaction "should be based on the creation of a place or community where people feel comfortable, trusted, and valued" and that "scaffolding is necessary to build confidence and self-efficacy and to ensure novices will feel confident and competent in using technologies." I think we've become better at this, but agree a concentrated effort is necessary here.
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