CCK11 – Interesting start

An interesting start to CCK11 – which was marked by the synchronous Elluminate session tonight. I find these synchronous sessions critical to keeping a handle on what is going on and I noted that Sia Vogel (who I remember from CCK08) felt the same. CCK11 is not using Moodle for discussion as previous CCK courses have. Stephen suggested that the scaffolding of the course for CCK11 will be from the Daily rather than from Moodle – I think it also comes from the synchronous sessions – which is perhaps why – at one point – there were 103 people in the session, which finally settled down to about 96.

In terms of learner autonomy – this is a good indication that at least 103 people have been able to find their way around the course well enough to attend the Elluminate session and 40% of these people are new to MOOCs – according to George’s poll. I’m not sure yet how many of these people are talking to each other, although there is already plenty of sharing and group formation. A Second Life group (I think), a Diigo group, I think I noticed a Facebook group, a Pearltrees site, and posting of screencasts and other presentations – all examples of autonomy in action. Another aspect of learner autonomy would be that people are able to choose with whom to make connections, where, when, how to connect and what to discuss once the connection has been formed. I am keen to discuss and learn more about learner autonomy. What does it mean? How will we design our courses to encourage it? I see learner autonomy as being at the heart of what ‘teachers’ need to consider when designing their courses on connectivism principles – but I don’t think it’s straightforward. There are so many potential constraints.

It did occur to me to wonder at one point during this evening’s Elluminate session (evening in the UK :-)) to wonder how autonomy works between Stephen and George. To what extent do they feel that they have the autonomy to work on the course in the way they wish and how much do they need to compromise? Now there’s a thought. Does autonomy obviate compromise or not? Will have to think about it.

There was quite a lot of ‘talk’ about the need to ‘give’ and ‘create’. We didn’t discuss how much is enough giving and creating – or how we might interpret this. I suspect that one person’s giving might be another person’s arrogance or patronising – and one person’s creativity might be another person’s kitsch. We probably each need to work this out for ourselves and then hold firm to our beliefs. Is this autonomy?

The course was described as: ‘This is complexity by design… it is about enabling each person to have their own distinct perspective on the material’.  This is a noble aspiration but I wonder if it is a reality in the face of considerable (probably implicit) peer pressure from the CCK11 and wider networks. Another thing I am still thinking about as it relates to the reality of autonomy.

There was an interesting question about duplication of effort – are we, because we are all working in distributed environments rather than in one place – all inventing the wheel? Stephen’s answer was that there is an astonishing amount of duplication of effort in existing traditional courses, but in this type of course each person is creating their own representation (see his presentation on The Representative Student). We all have different perspectives which we express in different ways and this multiplicity of points of view creates a more rounded overall view. What does this mean for understanding learner autonomy?

It’s good to know that three or more MOOCs on, I still feel as though there is lots to learn. Perhaps – or very probably – I am a slow learner 🙂

5 thoughts on “CCK11 – Interesting start

  1. suifaijohnmak January 20, 2011 / 3:10 pm

    Hi Jenny,
    Great to be re-connected with you in CCK11. A belated Happy New Year with greetings, to you and your family.
    A slow learner? You have a company – and that’s me!
    I have to gear up with the learning in CCK11, as the current research on MOOC – PLENK takes more time than what I have anticipated, in its interpretation and reporting. It is challenging, but rewarding to do this CCK11, after a few rounds of “virtual flights” of CCK.

    Autonomy as you said could be one of the most important aspects in networked learning, as I share your feelings and experience. Will try to dig deeper into this area in my research report and future blog posts.


  2. Stephen Downes January 20, 2011 / 8:39 pm

    > It did occur to me to wonder at one point during this evening’s Elluminate session (evening in the UK ) to wonder how autonomy works between Stephen and George.

    In day-to-day matters, we are completely autonomous. We have some basic overview meetings – we got together and drafted the weekly topics, for example (though that said, this was the first time in three offerings of the course we’ve done that; George has always done it before). We each submit our own posts and comments independently (and often unpredictably).

    Generally, since I send out the newsletter, I check to see what George has done, and then fill gaps or work around that. The environment is mostly me, since George doesn’t code. The one major environment decision we’ve made was this time, when we moved from Moodle to gRSShopper. I did send him a note about a week before the course started asking is that was OK? I also dropped the wiki, but I didn’t ask about it, since nobody ever used it anyways.

    As for content, we each do our own thing. We’ve never sat down together and come to any sort of agreement about what connectivism is or what its implications are. I’m sure that would be counterproductive, since we have different ideas, and standardizing on one perspective would mean eliminating the other.

    George handles all the assignments and evaluation for the for-credit students (and I imagine the University of Manitoba pays him for that, though I’ve never asked about it, because I want neither the headache of marking nor the paperwork involved in getting paid).

    So – in short – the two of us work very autonomously; the course represents a cooperation rather than a collaboration. We’ve also found that when we add others to the mix (Rita Kop, Dave Cormier) it works the same way, with these others adding their own unique flavour to the mix.

  3. suifaijohnmak January 21, 2011 / 6:24 am

    @Stephen, I could see how wonderful it would be by working in cooperation, rather than in collaboration in a course like CCK11. What interests me is how educators are expected to deliver in “team” teaching, where collaboration may also be required when it comes to course design and assessment in typical online course amongst different teams of educators (like the setting of common examinations, or a standardized curriculum on open education etc.) Would collaboration lessen the autonomy of educators in those cases? What are some means of allowing for autonomy and still able to achieve the goals desired as set by authority?

    @Jenny and Stephen, would assessment be challenging the autonomy of learners to a certain extent? I have yet like to know if learners could have all the free choices in the assessment in HE, especially when it comes to qualification awards such as MEd and PhD. We still haven’t got the full autonomy in social network qualification awards yet, have we? I would be happy to get some certification out of the CCK experience, if that is an endorsement of full autonomy in learning 🙂

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