Reading through the wealth of ideas that Jon Dron has presented us with this week, the idea that constraints drive creativity caught my attention. See this post of Jon’s with reference to the quote by Stravinsky – “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. ….”
This raises the question of constraints in MOOCs where there is extensive learner autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness and an abundance of information. These are the principles of connectivism and MOOCs are based on 4 types of activities
1. Aggregation (collecting information and making connections)
2. Remixing (organizing information and connections to suit yourself)
3. Repurposing ( creation – ‘we want you to create something of your own’)
4. Feeding forward (sharing)
So a key purpose of MOOCs is the creation of artifacts that can be shared with others. But as Rita Kop and Hélène Fournier reported as a result of their research in the PLENK MOOC, the minimal creation of artefacts in that MOOC was a real disappointment for the course convenors.
From the above we could deduce that MOOCs simply don’t integrate enough constraints. It is all too free, open and distributed. John Mak, Roy Williams and I discussed this in our paper – The Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC.
However, by all accounts ds106, another MOOC convened by Jim Groom on the topic of Digital Storytelling, was enormously successful in the number of artifacts that were produced by participants and the levels of creativity demonstrated. So were there greater constraints in that MOOC and if so, what were they? Was it the extensive use of technologies in ds106 that imposed the constraints? I haven’t been a participant in that MOOC, so I can’t judge.
Ultimately it comes down yet again to context (I know that there is a general weariness with that observation ☺) Too much freedom and we could get chaos and too many constraints and we get creativity stultified.
So what do I personally think? I think the ChangeMOOC type of MOOC – if it wants the creation of artifacts – needs to look to MOOCs like ds106 and see what can be learned from them and I don’t think that the ‘constraints drives creativity argument stands up’. So where are the ChangeMOOC artifacts and what are the reasons for participants’ reluctance to produce them? Including me ☺
Now I shall try to get back to what Jon is hoping we will talk about. But there are no constraints in this MOOC and therefore no possibility of predicting what participants will do ☺