The principles of connectivism are autonomy, diversity, connectedness and openness. Stephen has written and presented about this on a number of occasions. My experience of connectivism in MOOCs or even OOCs is that these principles are not straightforward to apply to course design or learning.
My current interest is in autonomy, as I believe that when thinking about the principles of connectivism – autonomy rules, i.e. it is not possible to experience diversity, connectedness or openness without autonomy, i.e. being an autonomous learner.
Being an autonomous learner seems to be a pre-requisite for successful participation in a MOOC/OOC – but what is an autonomous learner? Are you an autonomous learner? Am I an autonomous learner? Are our students/colleagues/children/friends autonomous learners? How do we know? What are the characteristics of an autonomous learner?
I have spent a bit of time trawling the web and journals with this question in mind and there has been loads written about autonomous learning, much of it in relation to language teaching (haven’t quite got to the bottom of why language teaching yet). I have been wondering whether learners who participate in MOOCs/OOCs have unique characterstics in relation to autonomous learning – and I invite anyone who ventures here to read this blog post to join me in thinking about this – if you are interested. For me the design of a course based on connectivism principles will have to take account of the characteristics of autonomous learning – hence my desire to get my head round this.
So far I have come up with the following characteristics – the problem is that few of them could be said to be specific to MOOCs/OOCs.
- show responsibility for their own learning
- show initiative
- are able to monitor and evaluate their own learning
- are reflective and show ‘high’ (in inverted comments because I’m not sure how high is high) levels of metacognition
- are self-aware in relation to their own learning (need unpicking)
- are intrinsically motivated
- are life-long learners (not sure about this one)
- can manage and regulate their own learning (OK but what does this involve?)
- are adept at taking/making decisions (how adept is adept?)
- are meaning makers
- are risk takers (not sure about this one)
- have specific skills and strategies for managing their learning online (OK but what skills and strategies?)
- are adaptable and flexible in their approach to learning (how adaptable is adaptable and how flexible is flexible? How would these characteristics manifest themselves?)
- are pro-active (i.e. they don’t wait for things/people to come to them)
- are critical and analytical thinkers (this might be too much of a supposition)
- know how to ask questions (and ideally good questions – but what is a good question?)
- are good at filtering and selecting the information they need
- can take constructive criticism
- can navigate the web
- are technically adept (not sure about this)
I am aware that each one of these characteristics could be questioned. After all how autonomous is autonomous?
If you think autonomy is important to learning in MOOCs/OOCs, then I would love to hear your thoughts on this.