Quote of the day: on digital literacy

One day I jumped out of bed and I went to the computer to see if I could do what I dreamed I could do.

Hal LASKO, 98 years old. Lasko paints using MS Paint, an out-dated piece of painting software, to create pixel art. 

Article on WIRED by Jordan Teicher, 10th of October 2013, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/10/pixel-painter-ms-paint/

Quote of the day: The Learning Sweet Spot

It’s all about finding the sweet spot,” Bjork said. “There’s an optimal gap between what you know and what you’re trying to do. When you find that sweet spot, learning takes off.

Robert A. Bjork (Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles) quoted in: Coyle, Daniel. “The Sweet Spot.” The Talent Code. Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York: Bantam, 2009, page 19.

Chapter 1 from Coyle’s “The Sweet Spot” is required reading in Duke University’s “English Composition I: Achieving Expertise” on Coursera by Denise Comer. The chapter is available on Issuu, a digital publishing platform.

A few loose ends on MOOC drop-out and grouping

A few ongoing discussions in the margins of the MOOC phenomenon have drawn my attention, and the following blog post is a short write-up on a few topics that have spent too much time in my draft drawer: drop-out as a measurement of MOOC success (bad idea), grouping participants in a MOOC (waste of energy).

Uptake vs. drop-out

Is it at all useful to speak of drop-out rate  of MOOCs, when enrolling in a MOOC is easier than registering for some newsletters? (Yes, i am talking about you, publicdomainreview.org.) Uptake would be a better word, like Donald Clark says in the following blog post:

Stanford Professor Keith Devlin on his MOOC and why he is not worried about attrition rates:

We shouldn’t think in terms of classic drop-out rates, because the participants are not your average student, says Phil Hill:

Grouping in MOOCs

We all know by now that learning together is much more efficient, right? (Thanks Howard Rheingold, peeragogy.orgconnectedlearning.tv) But why does my heart sink when I’m assigned a group right at the onset of a course? And why doesn’t the whole grouping thing seem to work very well?

FOEMOOC on Coursera shipwrecked itself on the iceberg of the idea “why don’t we ask a few thousand people to organize themselves into groups using a google form/the forum”.

In MIT’s current Media Lab course learning creative learning they grouped participants on the basis of time zones, creating separate mailing lists for every group. They closed off enrollment at a certain date, although all course contents are freely available to anybody. The closing of enrollment seems to have functioned mainly as a way to be able to divide people into groups. As a result some people feel left out, because they think they are missing out on something because they didn’t make the enrollment deadline (and they decide to participate “next time”, instead of jumping in anyway, which is a loss for the learning community). A second result is that there are quite a few silent groups with little to no interaction, possibly because people enrolled without the intention of being active participants. But people are re-clustering, finding new groups.
A group of about 25 people might be a good size of unit for working together on an assignment, but for sharing resources and ideas, a much larger group seems (to me) to be more fertile. Luckily, there is a lively central Google+ community with (now) 10271 members.

The answer to the grouping problem must in my humble opinion be found in the distinction between collaboration and cooperation that George Siemens makes here: Group work advice for MOOC providers: http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2013/03/10/group-work-advice-for-mooc-providers/

More on the topic:

On how #edcmooc did a cmooc on Coursera

By demonstrating that you could build a very “open” course on Coursera, the University of Edinburgh team in charge of E-learning and Digital Cultures succeeded in breaking down some walls between the large-scale free course (called xMOOC by some critics) and the cMOOC connectivist learn-fest.

How did that happen?

  • Incubating a community: Long lead-in time for the learning community. This made the community ready to go at the start of the course and the early birds in the community were very open and welcoming
  • Participants: for a large part of the participants, this was a professional/personal development event about the affordances of MOOCs.
  • Course subject: reflecting on learning and being human in relation to technology. It was learning about learning and the affordances of the Internet for learning. The fact that this course was built on a MOOC platform associated with “just free” open courses, was a nice demonstration in overcoming technological determinism (technological determinism was a subject in the first week).
  • Organization of the contents: a short-film festival each week, with related readings, accompanied by clear instructions on what was considered to be “core” material and what was additional. Encouraged to do your own thing with the contents.
  • Also, all course contents were freely available on the Net, contributing to the “opennes” of this course
  • Organization of the interaction: very loose. Create your own blog and add your feed to the aggregator. Use the hashtag so everything is findable across different platforms. Participate as much as you want, where you want, no need to use the coursera forum.
  • The instructors were there, in the forum, commenting on blogs, responding on Twitter. In their second Google Hangout (they did two), they discussed, among many other things, their strategy on teacher presence. Christine Sinclair mentioned, for instance, that she felt like participating in a student group, but that she did not want to barge in as a teacher.
  • Testing and outcomes: create a digital artefact, one, at the very end. There was no testing at all for recall of terms and concepts, instead there was an encouragement to generate new content.

Wonderful #EDCMOOC wrap-up, video-style by Wayne Barry:

The Edunauts: Educational Explorers for the Digital Age from Wayne Barry on Vimeo.

Quote of the day: What would the Internet do?

In an environment that has proven its resilience, growth, and capability, should we not emulate the very ideals of the internet in the learning experiences we create?

From: Alan Levine in a guest blog on WCET Learn: “ds106 is Made of the Stuff the Web is Made of”, http://wcetblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/ds106/

A write-up on Open Digital Storytelling course ds106 (http://ds106.us/),  an open online course since January 2011.

Quote of the day: MOOCs and the Wild West

“Why do we keep talking about MOOCs?  If I hear that word one more time…”  Nothing in her decades of research made room for the possibility that the sage on the stage would come riding back into town on a Coursera pony.

Bold by me.

Read more:
Margaret Soltan: “Mooc Whipped”, University Diaries, Inside Higher Ed, 13th of February.