(3 min read) Yesterday I was involved with #tjc15, which is like a twitter book club except with journal articles. We discussed the 2011 article by Kop, Fournier, and Mak:
A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses
Typically I don’t do those things – but yesterday I did. I read the article during the twitter conversation and typed/tweeted as I read, and was instantly sparked by a number of things and how they related to me as a teacher.
In a couple of weeks I will run the second iteration of my own mini-mooc-esque class #MUS654. It isn’t officially sponsored by anyone, or advertised by anyone, and in truth I put it together for the students so they could have a better experience and get connected. I teach a physical class who are all encouraged to follow along… starts in the second week of September. More on that in another post. This is about the article.
There were a few standouts that were definitely worth sharing. Firstly the idea that:
one should question if all adult learners are capable of taking on this responsibility
This made me ask myself (and the twitter community) what about younger learners? I know the context of the article was that of higher education, but my 8 year old uses the computer, self-directs his learning, and dips into various tutorials (with permission and supervision). Why should engagement with this sort of learning not be about younger learners. There is not a magic line when suddenly you have a license to drive your own learning. It happens organically and as we integrate connectivity into schools and the classroom, it is something that should be in the minds of parents and teachers, because it is certainly in the minds of students.
the major challenges is to create a pedagogy that supports human beings
I agree. completely. and this applies to all who are engaged with pedagogy – those classically called ‘learners’ as well as ‘teachers’. The more I teach the more I find I am really a secret, or public, learner. I’m not sure if the traditional infrastructure in higher education regards established teachers as learners, certainly some places do, and there are others where there is still ground to gain on that point. I crave learning, and it is a real challenge to create something that honestly supports all involved. There are so many variables, and the important ones to me have to do with engagement – intrinsically motivated engagement. I tell my students that if there is no point, why bother. I certainly wouldn’t engage just for a grade. Maybe that is a brash statement, but it’s true (for me at least).
So back to the online learning model and connection. In this study there were many registered on the class (1500+), and rather fewer participated on a regular basis (40-60). That is not surprising or uncommon. There were various attempts for engagement and this sentence really rang true:
This highlights the need of participants for social presence, but in a self-determined way.
It reminded me of the classic psychology idea that you are responsible for your actions. (As in thought precedes action (see Bandura, 2001 esp p.4-5) I can advise, tell, direct, ask – but only you can do it. And in creating authentic doing, that aspect of self-direction and self-regulation (see Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001) is essential. It is the magic of achieving something that is truly student-led (forgive the edu-speak).
It made me think, because I don’t know how my open course will unfold, or who will join in, or even who will be interested – it is about making a music curriculum, but has almost mini-courses each week about various core components of music and music learning. We’ll see… and I’ll be learning too.
It brings me back to these two sentences, found at the beginning of the article’s conclusion section:
This research showed the importance of making connections between learners and fellow-learners and between learners and facilitators. Meaningful learning occurs if social and teaching presence forms the basis of design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive processes for the realization of personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.
I am very glad Laura Gogia organised #tjc15 and hope very much that next month you will join in too. You can read the full article we discussed here.