There have been a few interesting goings on in the open ‘Personal Learning Conversation’ that Stephen Downes is running. I don’t get the sense that this is a MOOC, i.e. I don’t see a lot of evidence of more than 150 people being actively engaged, but there could be a lot going on behind the scenes that I am not aware of, and since I haven’t been very active myself, there could be a lot going on visibly that I am not aware of.
The Open EdX site went down at the beginning of the week, which I haven’t missed and nicely makes the case for distributed learning and learners having a distributed personal learning network to call on. But I wonder how many people who signed up were relying solely on the EdX site for interaction and resources and I wonder what the impact of the EdX site going down has been on the numbers of people following the ‘conversation’. I think it is fairly well established now that what might start as a MOOC often ends up as a small group. Unfortunately diversity, one of the key principles of the original cMOOCs is then lost.
But for me – it’s all fine, because at the moment I can’t devote my full attention to the course, so I am more of a ‘window shopper’ and ‘sampler’ – two of the labels which have been used to define MOOC groups by some researchers.
Most interesting for me this week have been two videos by Stephen and an aggregation tool that is new to me that is being used by Vanessa Vaile and Matthias Melcher. See http://www.inoreader.com/bundle/0014cd637821 for Matthias and http://www.inoreader.com/bundle/0014cd6377fa for Vanessa.
The video that I most enjoyed from Stephen was not created for this course, but for a talk that he was giving in Istanbul bearing the title The Future of educational media
In this he responded to Contact North’s ideas about the Future of Online Learning, expanding on the ideas and saying where he agreed and disagreed.
These ideas related to
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Handheld and mobile computing
- Learning Analytics
- Internet of things
- Games – simulations and virtual reality
- Translation and collaborative technology
Stephen said that his own ideas about the Future of Educational Media are based on his own ‘inflexible law of learning’ , which he explains as
‘We have to do things to learn. We can do things now with the internet that we could not before. It’s when we do stuff that we learn, not when stuff does something for us’.
These statements form the foundation of his ideas about personal and personalized learning. In personalized learning something is done for you, you are given the content. In personal learning you do something for yourself, learning is driven by what the learner wants and needs. Here is a really good slide explaining the difference.
In terms of this view of personal learning, learning becomes context sensitive to me, my needs and interests. I want to be there. I am free to leave if I wish. Assessment will then be a recognition process not a standards-based process. We will be recognised for our performance.
There was a lot more in the talk, which I don’t have time to go into here, but one final important take away for me that really resonates with my own thinking was:
Learning happens in the cracks between everything else that is going on in formal education systems, so we have to make sure that those cracks/spaces are there.
The second video that I enjoyed was The MOOC Ecosystem in which Stephen takes us from meso to macro and back to micro views of the MOOC ecosystem. I think I have seen this video, or something like it presented before, but it was good to be reminded of it.
Final Note: In the absence of the Open EdX site Fredrik Graver has set us a Google+ group –
which is a great help in following what is going on
– and of course there is Twitter #NRC01PL