Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Week 2 - On Badges, Enforced Independence and Dream Ebooks

As Week 4 begins in my various MOOCs, I am still still catching up on Week 3, while trying to blog about Week 2. We were busier than usual at work during "week 2". It was the end of the term and we had exams. I was tempted to jump straight to Week 3, but then this story that I am telling in installments would have been missing a chapter. Even though I didn't manage to do much homework that week, interesting things were still happening.

In Rhizomatic Learning, Dave Cormier posted the following question:

Learning rhizomatically is the goal, but how do we get there? The position of teachers is based on whole set of power structures that create a reliance on the teacher for setting objectives, assessing progress and giving direction. How can we take people who've spent their whole lives believing that this is 'learning' and MAKE them independent?

As I have said, I didn't do much work during week 2 week, so I didn't post my answer to this question. However, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. Can you enforce independence? Isn't it a paradox?

I keep meeting the same people over and over again in my various MOOCs. They move across platforms effortlessly and they are constantly participating in new MOOCs and communities of practice. These people somehow manage to navigate multiple platforms and cope with information overload. They have obviously reached the level of independence that is required for online learning. They share resources, post their reflections, notes and mind-maps and often create a course-within-the-course. With Coursera courses you learn most intensively not from the lectures, not in the forums, but in student-created Facebook groups. Some of these students have their own blogs, others Tweet or bookmark. When a MOOC doesn't meet their expectation, they simply walk out. Once the MOOC finishes, they continue to share in their Facebook group.

After 6 years online, I think I can safely say that I am one of them. I don't remember how I reached this level of independence. I am not sure it can be taught. Self-taught perhaps. Can it be enforced? Well, you know the joke involving a lightbulb and a psychiatrist.

The lightbulb has got to really WANT to change.

Still, there are some things that good teachers do that can be applied to a MOOC:

  • Good teachers model the behaviour they want to see. Al Filreis recorded his ModPo videos as round table discussions because that was the behaviour he wanted to see in the forums. Denise Comer used a pseudonim to write and submit essays in her writing MOOC, exposing herself to the infamous Coursera peer reviews. She then reflected on the activity and showed us how we could benefit from any kind of review we got.
  • Good teachers create an environment in which it is safe for you to experiment and make mistakes. As one students said in Al's webcast when he put her on the spot: " The worst thing I can do is be wrong."
  • Good teachers leave you some autonomy. If I want to do my homework in my blog or in a Facebook group, that should be acceptable.
  • Good teachers don't spoon-feed you information, they let you find some of it on your own. 
  • Good teachers are humble. They will let you teach them what you know and they will give you the credit for that.
  • Good teachers plan carefully, so that they give you the best possible course. Despite this, or because of this
  • Good teachers are willing to improvise and make on-the-spot changes of curriculum, platforms, or any other element of the course. 
  • Good teachers use the platform so that it suits their needs and the needs of their students. Read how Al Filreis used Coursera to create something amazing.
I could go on and on. I have seen a lot of great teachers during these six years online. I have seen quite a few that were not so great, but I learnt as much from them as I did from the first group. The online world changes so quickly. What worked yesterday might not be suitable tomorrow. Which is why I have created the Relearner badge I started this post with.

We learnt about badges in MultiMOOC, thanks to Jim Buckingham who gave this inspiring lecture:

The whole topic of open online badges is new to me. One of the reasons why I am fascinated by them is that they give you credit for studying what you want, even if it is just a single unit in a course. Instead of getting a certificate for the whole MOOC, you can get a badge for the unit you studied. Badges are transferable, so that you can share them in your eportfolio, on your website or on any one of your profiles.

I would like to learn more about badges and this is something I am leaving for after EVO is over. There are a few online courses that teach you how to use badges. I intend to go through one or two of them (there is a great one on P2PU). In the meantime I have joined Credly and created the "Relearner" badge I started this post with. Relearning is one of the topics of my next blog post.

Relearning is something I am practicing in EVO. One important lesson I learnt in Mobile Assisted Language Learning in Week 2 is that what's really mobile in MALL are not the devices, but the learners and the resources. I was one of the first teachers in Serbia who got hooked on CALL, but I am late with mobile learning. I only got my first Android device in November. Since then I have had to relearn a couple of things.

In Ebookevo we worked on the visual design of our ebooks. We got to daydream a little and create our dream ebooks. Here's mine:

Two weeks later, as I am struggling with real ebook tools, I have realised that there is no tool that could create such an ebook at the moment. Still, one can always dream. And I know that one day they will create a perfectly interactive ebook. When that time comes, we will have to relearn the way we read.

Tags: #2014evo, #ebookevo, #evomlit, #evosessions, #kolaracebookevo, #rhizo14, #TEFL, #multimooc, #learning2gether, #mooc


S.E.Ingraham said...

Because you suffer from multiple blogganality disorder (forgive me if I've spelled it wrong...I only saw it briefly) I felt compelled to comment given that we are both dyed in the wool ModPo-ers and I suffer from a similar disorder. In fact, I probably have had at least 10 - 12 blogs up and running at one time (right now I think I'm topping out at about 8) and it seemed like every time I turned around, I was starting up another one so I started one called The Blogamist for people who are addicted to creating blogs as in, "Hi, my name is so and so, and I am a blogamist. This is my tenth blog in two weeks. Stop me before I make another blog." It is, of course, all tongue in cheek, but fun. Just thought I'd weigh in. See you around ModPo...

Vance Stevens said...

Thanks for posting your reflections to #MultiMOOC and crediting my colleague co-moderator Jim Buckingham with his excellent presentation. I wish we could have done more with badges in the MultiMOOC course but we spread ourselves thin (our students arrived a couple of weeks ago as well). I like the idea of blogamy, from your first commenter. I'm a bit of a blogamist too but I am overdue on my own reflective post, which I must do this weekend. Thanks for modeling for us, and posting yours.

Jim Buckingham said...

Thanks Natasa. Happy to hear that my own enthusiasm for the topic of Open Badges has become "infectious" (hopefully in a good way). As a follow up, I'm currently authoring what I hope will be a useful "how to get started with badges" via this Google doc

Seeing as you have set to work on realizing badges, I would really welcome what you have found to be important in realizing success on the topic.


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