The stories we want to tell ourselves

I want to be a part of an awesome story – is this a proper way to describe human life? I’ll tell of a serendipitous moment of learning.  I listened to a Finnish radio programme in which a young woman told about her new book. The book (available only in Finnish, Ilmiön kaava) deals with social phenomena which come and go in public: political phenomena, eating behaviours, brands, idols, what ever. Social media helps in aggregation of these phenomena. The pattern of these phenomena is the book’s theme. The book is very practical and its intention is far from mine, it helps to sell something to anyone, it gives lists to check if you have tried properly. My intention is to understand online learning and my interest is in authentic events. In spite of that great difference, the radio programme helped me a lot. It made me change my frame from individuals to phenomena. My former attempt to understand self-organisation was in February 2011 in this blog. I was interested in crowd behavior and the answer was that leaders or organisers were always needed. I told about some cases, which aimed to ‘do something good’.

In the radio programme the premise was that nowadays everyone wants to be a part of a good story. We leave in crowds and want to share things. That is why we need phenomena to connect us with certain people. Simple positive emotions and communication between the participants are crucial. Light satisfaction is the glue of a crowd for enjoying. What is needed for an successful phenomenon (event, case) to occur?

There must be some authentic shared interest and a group of people who feel in a similar way. People want to act jointly and so that everyone still can choose his/her own way. There must be members who want to spread the message/the thing not only buy or participate once. People don’t walk in and join, they throw themselves into the process. The illusion of one’s own choice is very important. The identity is mirrored in the crowd and there must be some freedom.

The phenomenon may raise unintentionally or it may be designed and supported. First innovative people begin the process but then we need the strengtheners. They may be older idols or known things appreciated which can be connected to the process wisely (in the way which people accept).
The innovators must be sensitive to the needs and hopes of the potential crowd: what it wants to be a part of, and what it wants to be against, not belong to. There must be something old and something new, a frame is a combination. Fans and likes are an essential part of the phenomenon. The roots are growing  when the members want to tell others and spread the ideas. The ideas worth spreading must be sensitively understood. Not every phenomenon is commercial but some requisite is needed. (T-shirts and so on). Passion for spreading the idea leads to emergent creative ideas.

Also the negative events may reinforce the phenomenon. How dare you to resist this lovely event is common attitude. Enemies are needed – this helped me to interpret how the rhizo14 FB group refused to accept some negative results – those must be a mistake of the researchers. I wrote about this in March in this blog.

New tribes celebrate around their totem poles and the  irrational elements are connecting people, not only rational actions and discussions. Rapid heavy streams in the internet require intuitive participation. The basic need is to be charmed by something with other people and take part in something jointly, yet feeling like an independent individual. Research is not the right way to do. This is apparent in the new discussion about the rhizo14 research between Francess Bell and Simon Ensor.

How to win the obstacles when an idea is rising? If the idea is fresh and authentic, the phenomenon may rise with little work, if not, nothing happens no matter how hard one tries. How to find the people who want to spread the message and are happy doing that and those who recommend the new idea. What are the common mistakes? One of the blunders is to fall in love with one idea and forget other people’s needs. Another is to tell confused stories so that the big picture disappears (please come here everyone this is awesome). The third obstacle is to be afraid of negative comments and stop doing what is needed (save one’s jewels).

We could explore a mooc as a social cultural phenomenon. Some phenomena may become a part of identity (for instance Apple) and keep up continuous emotional binds. We =people who have been studying connectivism from the beginning can be described as a tribe which has a new branch around Dave and rhizomatic learning. We have to choose Engagement or alienation (I remember the name of Tanya’s article about rhizo14).  I think that the model pattern of phenomenon describes well the rhizo-like courses without content, where community is the curriculum. The internet is full of this kind of phenomena, events, happenings, cases based on light emotions and intuitive approval. People are doing what they want in their self-developed silos. So what?

Many times I’ve been thinking that perhaps we live again the Middle Ages. What I experience is true as such and no evidence is needed. Sciences are a hobby of some old-fashioned  people at mentally dead universities and our new practical journals (as Hybrid Pedagogy) tell the up-dated truth.

Using Twitter in scholarly networks

I continue my journey to find meaningful results about open online learning. This research is new: Bonnie Stewart defended her thesis  “Scholarship in Abundance: Influence, Engagement, and Attention in Scholarly Networks” yesterday in UPEI Canada and I followed it via YouTube. I’ll write this post not to assess her research but to ask myself questions. How do I understand the meaning of her work? What can I learn about it?

I’ve never liked preaching about abundance, because in my mind it has always been the situation. Libraries have more content than human beings ever could follow. We have new tools nowadays as Twitter and that’s why Abundance is used in the title. Twitter brings new possibilities and challenges, so I can ‘accept’ the title. Bonnie has used ethnographic method  with 13 participants, who were twitter residents for at least 2 years, and had varied institutional affiliations and roles in 8 different countries. There was ethnographic participant observation, 24 h reflections, blog posts, profile reflections and interviews. She was interested in the following questions:

  • what counts as academic influence within open networked circles?
  • how does scholarly engagement in networks align with institutional scholarship?
  • how do attention and visibility operate on Twitter, and how do they shape participants’ experiences of care and risk within networks?

The participants were voluntary because they had to be ready for participatory work: invitations to expand, clarify, or reframe their answers. This is the only way to work in a research like this if you want to get deeper insight. I believe that the participants are a good sample of different scholarly Twitter users although it is not a statistically random one. More I am more concerned about the time period, because everything changes so quickly. The results are history already when they are written down.

The first article dealt with influence and defined it as capacity to contribute (slide 8). The basic concepts are scale of visibility + common interests+ shared ties and these are connected to capacity to contribute to the ongoing conversation.  Institutional affiliation doesn’t matter except for Oxford. (Here I disagree: I found David White to be a charming man and not only Oxford guy when I met him at an Elluminate session in 2009). Matter-ing matters is a funny way to illustrate the situation and I believe that I can follow the idea, and I agree with that.

The second article is most difficult to follow for me because the concept scholarship has so many meanings. Networked practices = Scholarship.
Scholarship of discovery/ integration/ application/ teaching (Boyer 1990 – nice to see an old source). And then Scholarship of abundance: a researcher wants to share his article so it could live its own life. Abundance is connected to openness here.

The third paper deals with changes. The new work habits give rise to (new?) personal emotional experiences

  • attention + visibility => vulnerability,
  • commodification + institutional indictments of deviance + re-inscription of societal biases (I can follow only partly)
  • attention + visibility => care

The participants came from very different backgrounds, not only universities. (My first thought was that university workers have always been vulnerable, the work is connected to their intelligence and it is not easy).

Bonnie describes her overall findings: networks operate in distinct pattern of connection, curation and collaboration. Generally said, so it must be so.
Networked scholarly practices enable and demand scholar’s individual rather than institutional cultivation of influence, visibility, and audiences. Yes, they do. Digital networks offer participants a sense of being someone who can contribute, and contributions open new doors. The intersection of high networks status with lower or unclear institutional status creates identity dissonance. This must be true as well, I can imagine.

What happens in the future then? One way is that networks become institutionalized and consequences of public speech become amplified etc. Twitter is used in tactical ways for helping one’s career building. I don’t know how separate from each other are traditional university habits and open social habits or is there much overlapping already. All that is said to be new is not new at all.

If you are interested in these themes please read Bon’s blog, in which he tells about the research process and results.

Here comes the slideshare of Bonnie Stewart:

The things I learned last week

Last week I commented a research about Rhizo14 in this blog in three posts. I have followed research about MOOCs all the time (since the year 2009), so it was something I would normally do. I didn’t know how other people had commented this one and I was very astonished about what I have seen. It is The Thing I learned last week. There are different orientations toward research.

First some facts about my background and orientation. I have been interested in action research since the 1970’s when I acted as a researcher for the first time. The idea of participatory action research, where the doers are the subjects, not objects, it has been close to my heart for forty years. Another dream was to do practically oriented research and avoid narrow academic traditions. I still remember when a famous professor Martti Takala smiled at me and my colleague and said that he agreed with our motto more than the research itself. Now I can comprehend his feelings. Since then I have learned how challenging it is to act as a ‘practitioner researcher’ and I understand that it is necessary to focus every research, to find the question which can be answered. I have done action research and every time got negative feedback. If you follow development in an institution, they want to hear that they are excellent, not anything else. This is my background shortly and too simply, but I’ll handle the basic concepts in another blog post next week. Now I’ll concentrate on my learning last week.

I could not imagine the amount and content of some attacks on the research which was handled. It was impossible to follow or understand for me. I felt astonished and embarrassed every time I visited the Rhizo14 group in Facebook.  Yesterday I decided to sit down and learn more. So I read again two long threads which began as follows:

  • another from the negative results of the research I am speaking about and
  • another about a blog post of a Rhizo14 participant which had not an account in FB. So they spoke intentionally behind her back. They named her an attacker and I don’t know why. It was a normal or good post for me.

The discussions varied a lot and I could follow many constructive paths, not only of inferior quality as I had earlier seen. The keys of solutions were included in some comments; they used the concepts defense mechanism and ego. Many people said that in every research of students’ opinions, there are some that won’t like it. It is normal. But why it was not acceptable in this rhizo14 case? I draw a simple image:

Dia1There was much “we-speech” and that orientation excluded the others. I used the concepts Resident and Visitor here instead of Insider and Outsider. David White developed those concepts for participation in the internet in online studies. I think they are the appropriate concepts here. I feel myself a visitor even if I have written there sometimes, I have had long breaks as well.

After drawing that image I noticed that it is like the old social psychological description of groupthinking. The residents belong to the group and this frame influences all their interpretations. For instance the line around the box, the border, changes what is bullying and what is not. Those inside are free to name others but they are very sensitive about “others'” sayings.

The discussions in the two threads consisted of different parts. Many people behaved well and then it turned to low level again. This is ridiculous, said Simon Ensor many times and I agreed in my mind. Simon said earlier that he participates in Rhizo14 in an affinity space. Perhaps I should understand what it means.

Another image:

Dia2The rhizo14 course supported creativity and the use of artistic ways to describe one’s experiences. I appreciated that and enjoyed as long as I could follow without being a native in English. Poetry was difficult to follow but the videos easy. This all helped me to realise that some participants accepted only artistic ways. Every presentation should be dynamic and include whole and complex life in it.

So this way may lead to a point where research is not possible or not acceptable. I wonder whether it is possible at all to conceive a research for these people? There are other ways. For instance participants’ experiences may be collected on a platform Padlet where videos can be included as such. Here is an example of the last Padlet of EDCMOOC.

I could recognise huge differences in attitudes toward research in the rhizo14 group. Many rhizo14 participants are doing research and want to learn about doing it better while some people deny its value totally. There seems to be a gap between these lines. Building a bridge between these is perhaps too challenging. Anyway it should be understood what research is and why it is necessary to focus on appropriate questions which can be handled.

In both groups of the image (interested in research and artistic line) I have recognised negative attitudes toward so called academics or even universities. Sometimes those who make fun of universities know what they are saying and sometimes their criticism comes across as children’s crying or mere envy.

I have an intention to handle this issue, I mean research of online learning, during this Spring many times. This is my farewell to the Rhizo14.

Knowledge in interactive practice disciplines

In the weekend I read the discussion about rhizomatic learning between Jenny Mackness and Keith Hamon in rhizo14 and I had to return to an academic dissertation from the year 1988. It helped me work  in the teacher education for adults coming from different vocations with quite different views and perspectives. Cognitive modelling is only one of the ways to interpret life and experiences. My own education (psychology) had opened my eyes to broad understanding of  human beings, but theory is grey and understanding becomes deeper in practice.

The researcher was Anneli Sarvimäki and the dissertation was accepted in the University of Helsinki, 1988. Epistemic styles can be described using three different ways of knowing: rational, empirical or metaphorical. Types of data and criteria accepting data as knowledge in the same order:

  1.  theoretical data, knowing via thought
  2. empirical facts, knowing via senses
  3. experiential, phenomenological data, knowing via intuition and insight.

Criteria for acceptance as knowledge are

  1. Is it logical? Is it theoretically sound?
  2. Can it be experimentally proven?
  3. Does it fit with my experience? Does it feel right?

The subheading of the research is An analysis of knowledge in education and health care.  In my work as a teacher educator we had used Argyris’ and Schön’s ideas about reflective practice and we had often used metaphors. Our students were free to express themselves using whatever artefacts and so they did. There was music, movement (videos), art, self-constructed boxes of wood, images, metaphors. I suppose that this development is known in all interactive practice disciplines and the jobs grounded on them. Mariana Funes has dealt with the difference between espoused theory and theory in use. I enjoyed reading her storify “the interpersonal contract in cMOOCs”.

When I am blogging I put a part of me in writing, it is not only a cognitive process. Rhizomatic learning seems to be a philosophy which every human being constructs during his/her life. It tells me obvious and self-evident truths which have been found in every science and written in numerous books. Intuition is an important concept in psychology. If you want to test your blog, go the the address I have given in this post. Most bloggers had a result beginning with I. How about you?

I’ll tell an example of my experience with books. This came to my mind while reading Ann’s blog about phenomenology and tactile memory. I participated in a course Fantasy and Science Fiction and we read very old books and wrote essays (to Eric Rabkin, Michigan University) . The texts were scanned so that we could read them from the screen. I printed some of them because they were long. BUT there was a book that could not be changed to these formats and so I went to a library. It was a deep experience to find that book in the shelf of my home town library, smell it and turn the yellow pages. That book was a part of history, human civilisation in a deeper way than  text-on-screen.

Now I feel that there is a difference between community and network in the epistemic styles of research … what/who is self in social self organisation of crowds? I have to continue my former pondering

The community as the curriculum

I’ll continue my journey describing my observations during rhizo14 in the light of the heading: the community is the curriculum. It is the other heading of the course but usually the first Rhizomatic learning has been dealt with. I am interested in the latter part because I’ve been working on that theme many decades, I had to write a curriculum using personal learning orientation in the 1990’s (had to write tells about my attitudes against administration, I had to work as a head of teacher education programme for six years). My solution was that I began the curriculum by describing the students’ co-learning, how it must be organised.  Much has happened after those years and now I am interested in open online communities.

What can be said about open courses, what is the normal process. I use the image, which Doug Cloud has developed.

dougclowThere was discussion about the power law of diminishing participation but Doug wanted to turn the discussion to a different direction. The diminishing does not follow the power law, we have to explore what happens in the process. What factors lead to ending  or proceeding during the studies.

In my previous post I dealt with rhizo14 a little. We, the participants have different levels of awareness and motivation at the beginning of rhizo. Many of us have participated in CCK or edcmooc or PLE or whatever courses and many are involved in other courses all the time. There seems to be some competition between courses, which to choose and use time with it. The basic motivation to take part is broader than only rhizomatic learning or Dave Cormier. I am grateful to Tanya who commented on me and so I found her blog. She offers the option to be interested in facilitation or learning more generally than in rhizomatic learning specifically. This helps me give up my guilt about my lack of interest in Rhizomatic learning per se. I drew an image about this situation: crossing and moving motivations and expectations etc but it is so messy that I left it out. You have that image in your head, your personal image.

I am not interested in the numbers of participants in rhizo14. Dave shared the results of his survey some weeks ago: 65 answers were given and they can be found in Dave’s blog.  About engagement I chose 2, because I wasn’t engaged in that moment. About connections I chose a bigger number. The assessments are sensitive to many factors and change from moment to another. But something they do tell. The number of active participants have been 30-40 in every mooc which I have followed.

What is interesting in rhizo14? It is an experiment about a totally personal curriculum without a teacher. Dave speaks about “new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology instantly available”.  Mariana in her tweet called it a power shift. When I have been thinking and observing the rhizo14 community, I have become conscious about the quality of the participants (students, learners > read a thread began by Apostopolos in the FB group). We have many years’ experience about moocs and, what is perhaps more important, about work life and education generally. We should be able to analyse our community and our curriculum.

We know (psychology knows) a lot about cognitive and social processes and dynamics. We have experts in this course. How do we combine the older knowledge with the analyses of this time. The sociologist Barry Wellman showed this slide in LAK13.


We function more as networked individuals. Our social networks are large. Networks are sparsely-knit and loosely-bounded. Rhizo14 is an interest-based community but there is a great variety of interests inside it.

The core concept in developing a curriculum (or a course?) must be interaction. It is easy to build connections with like-minded people. It strengthens and sharpens, Lou tweeted today. We live in the middle of self-made abundance. We know that innovations happen near the borders. There must be people who break them and connect with different people. For instance Wenger has built excellent models about this many years ago. You remember the circles crossing each other, do you? I should like to draw some circles about rhizo14, but I am afraid of naming them. It is a taboo to classify people, isn’t it? I cannot do it, it is hard enough to describe myself for my front-page.

How about our interaction in our numerous discussions? We explore the edges of what is possible in open online learning, said Tanya in her blog. She spoke about thoughtless sharing and creation as well. Jaap spoke about a market and walking around, choosing what we need and going home. Mariana mentioned the ripples following every action or saying. So am I in a trap: do not deal with difficult issues? The borders of openness and freedom, where are they, how near or far?

I take an example. When somebody says in a discussion:

Your negative response to the course has been a strong pattern. While I have found your critiques of the course helpful, I wonder if there isn’t some other underlying critique that has kept you from trying on the ideas in the course. I would very much appreciate it if you would address this underlying critique.

How do we interpret this? Many were astonished, because they had no idea that the response was negative. But every interpretation is true, so the writer was also right. Norms are created in this way, what is allowed and what is not.  If the speaker has power, he gets followers and it happened. The story continues when the same person says:

My request for more information is not a rhetorical flourish.  I’ve followed XXs work for years and would like to better understand what it is that concerns her if there is a deeper issue involved.

Now we have the interpretation problem again? Does he mean that he expects better, stronger and deeper critique from XX because he knows her work or is it a bitter comment: be quiet if you haven’t better thought to express. I don’t know and I don’t want to solve that question. I have told my opinion already. But I want to illustrate how we, adult and well educated people in our networking, we behave as people always have done. Defensive behavior arises when we feel threat or criticism, real or not. We may project our own problem to another participant and blame him/her. I use these old findings of psychology in order to understand this kind of happenings. We are human beings. The new nomad is like the old one and he behaves using ancient mechanisms in a stressful situation.

Something positive in the end. Here comes a presentation which Matt Holland, a participant of Elearning and Digital Cultures published as his digital artefact. There was discussion in the forums during the process. Matt shows the way, which is not complex at all. Or is it? What should be added to these five rules for being human in a MOOC:


EDIT 8.2. I have received excellent feedback which helps me to understand that there is great diversity inside rhizo14 and I use “we” too much. I speak to a tribe which has been hanging out here for years and knows the basics of networking. I try to build that community forwards when I say “we”.

Anything to declare? rhizo14

Should I declare my findings during Rhizo14? I’ve followed the discussions but not written or even commented on others’ blog posts. One day I read the blog of Jenny Mackness and enjoyed the historical perspective: Dave dealt with rhizomatic learning already in CCK08. I remember that I tried to translate that concept but didn’t succeed and it was problematic enough to try to catch what connectivism was meant to be. Now I know that there is no need to define rhizomatic learning. That concept is not needed, I agree with Terry Elliot, who said in his blog that we could speak about learning without that add (un-). Of course I have heard Dave speaking about this theme during last five years and I’ve learned that learning is complex. Yes it is, but why to repeat that from year to year? Everyone working in education knows that complexity very well.

Jenny linked her thoughts with many other rhizo14 blogs and helped others to follow the happenings. She integrates, supports and helps her co-learners and I appreciate it. Also Jaap Bosman has blogged about many interesting themes during rhizo14. I liked his post about the concepts and stages of community building. I wrote in my previous post that we tend to find in our free online  discussions similar principles which educational sciences have known many years, decades or since the very beginning. We need findings of our own, it makes us happy. It is important to activate  new  participants in MOOCs.

I am grateful to Matthias Melcher for his rhizo14 blog list. It saves my time when I can use his work and find the active bloggers in Matthias’ blogroll. (I got a grandson Matias in March 2013, old name for men in many languages). I could also try to follow Matthias’ thoughts on deep theoretical questions. It demands energy to ponder, let’s see.

Last week’s theme Enforcing Independence is a core question in all good pedagogy. It is a paradox, impossible to implement but necessary as well. Challenging enough! It is possible to set independence as a goal of education in my country but it is a cultural concept. We had international groups in teacher education and self-directed learning did not mean the same to them as Finnish people. I have noticed an interesting discussion around this theme between Christina Hendricks and a new name to me, Mariana Funes. We speak on an abstract level on this rhizo14 course and it leaves  many doors open.

It is a big temptation to play with words and concepts as Maha Bali tweeted that

this is the unweek of unMOOCS, with uncertainty theme in #rhizo14 & unlearning theme of #futureEd. I am unworking unhard in all of it

Here is the link to Maha Bali’s blog about a similar topic. Is it funny that we unlearn in an uncourse and use unhangout? Of course it is fun to play with words sometimes. Many people have written free poems with empowered words and published them in the FB group. It is good to play. And images often tell more than words. Jenny gave the image of a tree growing outside its fence lol. I remembered this photo of mine:



It was autumn 2009 when we were recommended to destabilize our CCK09 course. Now we have uncourses, is this changing concepts = development?

Still I remember the blog of Cath Ellis. I’ve to read what she said about theory.  I always dream about diving deeper but seldom  do so, I am too lazy or shy or whatever. Actually I’ve a long list of interesting cues received during the  last two weeks. Now I have declared my suitcase and I’ve to decide in which direction I’ll travel to maintain my motivation. We have a possibility to create something quite undone earlier in an online community…

My blog and my expertise?

The header image of this blog shows the history of my participation. Five years and four months is a long time and now I have a feeling that I want to change something.


In order to deepen my orientation I present more facts which Google Analytics offers me. Here is the overall situation: visitors, visits and pageviews.

Englblogi5vThe numbers of blog posts differ but they don’t correlate directly with the visits. The year 2010 is the top of posts: 20,24,64,16,26,50.

The first two years were connectivism studies CCK08 and 09. It was the beginning of my international participation.

The PLENK2010 course opened more ways and I was active for the first time. The year 2010 seems to be my real beginning towards international virtual life. After that year I have participated in many moocs. American eduMooc gave me some names to follow in Twitter. Two Coursera studies have been great experiences: Fantasy and science fiction. Human mind and Modern world was hard work and taught a lot. ELearning and Digital Cultures was so fascinating that I did it twice. Its facilitators’ team is charming and the community around the course seems to live forever.  First steps of learning and teaching in higher education was nearest to my former work at teacher education. I participated in it twice, first as a student and then as an expert participant. It helped me to find the old educational theorists in the internet and deepen my knowledge.

The following diagram shows the countries from which the visitors came to my blog. The overall number is 130.

Englmaat5vUSA is highest every year but UK goes up in 2013. Edcmooc and fslt are both implemented in British Universities. Australia goes up and more visitors come from there than from Canada. Philippines and India have noticed my blog later. Malaysia could be mentioned too. Europe is less interested in my blog (except UK). Germany was at the top on the first years, now the Netherlands leads the numbers. Finland I have left outside because I cannot separate my own visits from real visitors.

So it is a small English speaking community which I’ve learned to know during these five years. Some of my friends participated in the connectivist moocs but not everyone.  My connections are open and changing all the time. I recognise many names in Twitter and follow their blogs. Although new visitors have apparently come during the courses, the most favourited topics in my blog seem to be very general. They are near my real expertise and my permanent interest. I’ll list the blog posts here in order (how popular they have been):

Learning theories in teacher education from 2010-10-05 and category teacher education are at the top from year to year. Almost half of all direct visits are connected to this topic.This expertise is part of my history and I’ve no intention to continue in this field. They do what they want, it is not my job any more.

Then the numbers of page visits diminish quickly.

  • On connectivism again 2008-09-16 includes a diagram of experiental learning, which we used in teacher education. I suppose that this page is linked by Downes somewhere.
  • Learning theories and technology 2010-10-09 and Learning theories recent discussion 2010-10-07. I remember that Rita Kop appreciated my knowledge about Nordic discussion.
  • Social self organisation 2011-02-24 was connected to a Finnish project published in English. Understanding networking 2011-02-27  followed the same project. There was international interest in the air.
  • Learning Analytics 1st conference 2011-03-04 contains links to presentations. Also the following posts about LAK conferences have got readers for the same reason I believe. How to follow learning (LASI and LAK) 2013-07-12 continues with this theme.
  • Assessment can support development 2010-10-14 deals with the main topic of learning, based on my experiences at the teacher education.
  • Research about mooc pedagogy 2011-12-19 is my permanent interest.
  • I am the platform 2010-09-29 was my way to determine how to participate. This must be nerd talk, much spam to this post.
  • My footprints of edcmooc in febr, 2013-09-03 and the wikispace of the research project are the best research oriented blog posts which I have written until this. I should continue ..
  • Test your blog 2010-10-15 . This is a way to become famous, but I want to dive deeper to psychological knowledge and I haven’t continued in this way. It was interesting that all the answers belonged to introverts.

In the future I will focus my writing better. I do not participate in any courses but follow discussions according to my interests. Online learning, pedagogical principles of moocs and how research can help to find answers. Those are my topics this year.

Next weekend I intend to copy this blog to a new place and say farewell to edublogs. This platform has served very well, but I am not in a right place, I am not a teacher any more. I move this blog to my site or actually my son does it and I gave orders. I am not sure how I’ll continue blogging. Time will tell.

Andy Mitchell, one of those edcmooc digital angels, said me in Twitter that “You need to learn to praise yourself. Your contribution is important…” I have a lot to learn. How could I believe what Andy said?

The profusion of multimodal artefacts in edcmooc

This post deals with the JISC webinar 7.11. where two edcmooc facilitators Sian Bayne and Jeremy Knox had a presentation The profusion of multimodal artefacts in the MOOC (edcmooc ). I participated in the open webinary and I will now copy some of the slides here. The artefacts of the first edcmooc can be seen here . I was very interested in to hear how the facilitators analysed our products and the new digital literacies which are developing during this course.

New quality of learning? New combination between human action and technology? I’ll write my notes here transparently so that I can make them better later while I have understood better. This is how the webinar was introduced,  This is not an easy text for me 🙂

The profusion of multimodal artefacts produced in response to the EDCMOOC will provide a number of examples with which to explore sociomaterialism in relation to literacy practices online. It will be suggested that this work constitutes a set of sociomaterial entanglements, in which human beings and technologies each play a part. By looking at these examples, we will suggest that sociomaterial multimodality offers a different way of thinking about digital literacy: not as a set of representational practices, but rather as complex enactments of knowledge, specific to particular contexts and moments.

Jeremy Knox was introduced as his research concerns relationships between critical posthumanism, new materialism and the open education movement. Sian Bayne’s research interests revolve around educational change as we become more and more enmeshed with the digital. Her current particular interests are around posthumanism and online education, the geographies of distance education, museum learning and multimodal academic literacies.

I was curious enough to follow the webinar, although the sound was not good all the time. The examples from the first edcmooc helped, because I participated in it. I have to say that I got hunches about new ideas while listening to Sian and Jeremy. I understood that I had thought simply about the question of who is the subject /doer/owner? I used to think it is always a human being and never the technology. But who does all these Wordles and other word collections? Isn’t it the machine?

Here is a slide that says that better, I don’t trust my skills to use English language. The image is too big, please click on it. I wanted the heading of the seminar and the text of the slide to be readable.


The identification of a single author of digital work is problematic. That’s what I meant while speaking about the subject/doer/owner. It is better to read their text. These questions about knowing and learning must be asked and I am happy to learn more about these.. That’s why I participate in #edcmooc, to learn more about digital literacies. Here comes another slide from the same seminar:


it is a long jump from the oldest university to these questions or how is it? Perhaps the new challenges can be received best in the oldest universities?


From the first closed systems to the open edcmooc

I have to continue the travel in my own mind even if it doesn’t touch other participants’ ponderings in #edsmooc. This time I take a big jump from 1200s to a research session, which was held last week. A big gap remains between these two and I can only guess at some factors influencing to this gap.

I traveled in Central Spain for the first time in my life in September and I visited the old university of Salamanca. It is one of the oldest in the whole world, only Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge have older universities. The name is still in the wall:

universitasIt was great to see the old building with its church or chapel, the spirit seemed to live there still.

One of the old lecture halls was in its original shape. It was too dark to take a photo there but you can imagine the black benches and a stand in front of the classroom. Only one professor had the right to speak and his assistant repeated his words. The students were not allowed to turn their backs toward the professor and they had to listen, of course. Poor people warmed up the benches before the students came in – there were many hierarchies. The teaching was organised so that each branch of science was taught only in its own hall. This was informed clearly at the door. Here is one of those guides:

saliOf course I knew this all earlier, but I have to tell that the visit touched me and my view and ideas changed by the visit. Knowledge was owned by a few people and shared without changes to selected people. It was dangerous to think, to obey was the only way to live.

Now we have universities and even open courses open to everyone. It is a long journey that the human mind and organisations have done during eight hundred years. Now one of the old universities, the Edinburgh University offers us an open course and we meet in Google Hangouts f2f with our facilitators. Technology is one of the factors which make this possible, but what are the changes in our minds? Do we believe in hierarchies between people still and what are the grounds of these hierarchies? How to participate, share expertise and learn from each other? Many pedagogical questions in air but here we are now: this map is from the beginning of our edcmooc course:

edcmoocmap2I had an intention to write about a webinar of ALT / JISC  7.11. but now I understand that I have to write another post of it. Otherwise this post will be too long. My idea is that in that webinar, where Sian Bayne and Jeremy Knox presented their findings, I really lived in the future. The recording Multimodal Profusion in MOOC  is available. It is not mentioned in the edcmooc course but it was open and worth of listening to. The findings are based on the digital artefacts of the first edcmooc in Jan-March this year.

This blog post aims to raise the question: how do we use our freedom to learn in the internet? Do we have old useless restrictions in our minds which we could throw away (not minds but restrictions 🙂 )

It is a nice coincidence that Esko Lius from Finland, a participant of edcmooc, blogged about old Spain Cervantes: Don Quixote. You may read his post here.


Old and new steps into digital life

Some discussion in the fslt13 course has aroused memories in my mind. I want to check my writings at the beginning of my online teaching. I used to write in Finnish, of course, so I try to translate some thoughts and figures now. I was one of the first teacher educators who became interested in online teaching. We got the first learning platform in the year 2000. I began my blog in 2007 and published these figures in it.

onlineteachI had worked the last 1990’ies in teacher education with up-to-date pedagogy. We had adult students from all professions and we supported them individually. The student built their becoming way to work as a teacher = their theory-in-use. We had flipped the classroom already.

With this pedagogical awareness it was clear to use the same pedagogy  in online teaching as well and it was easy. The energy went to learning how to use the first learning platform, it was a big change. I have written in my figure that it took one year to use the first one, and the change to the following learning platform took another. All the technologies must be integrated to the ‘theory-in-use’ and it took over three years. The aim was to build continuous development as online teachers in teacher education – this change of culture takes ten years or more and sometimes it never happens. What is needed to implement this vision, it was the topic of my second figure.

passionYou must be interested in, to have passion to teach online. It was so demanding at the beginning that it was much easier to stop and say that it is not working, students don’t want it, we have no time for so many technological problems. Attitudes changed very slowly and I can still meet all those old prejudices against online teaching.

The most important source of learning to work online is in the action, you have to teach and facilitate online in order to learn from practice. You may get support from literature, research and theories but you cannot assess their value and practicability without acting yourself.

Networks developed from year to year when online teaching became more usual and popular. OnLine Educa Berlin is an important international conference to meet colleagues abroad, a short flight from Helsinki,  and we have our Finnish meetings in Aulanko. Many online networks are available every day. The first began in 2007 – before that there were some communities for nerds only, I think.

When I compare these writings in the situation just now, I feel that the development has become faster and it is normal to work by implementing many changes simultaneously. New devices come and go, you try them and leave them. You need networks to learn from others’ experiences. Technologies have become easier to use and follow at the same time when teachers have got better digital literacies. Attitudes have changed so that online teaching is wanted and appreciated because many people have positive experiences about it.

During our fslt course we have had presentations from Jenny Mackness and Sylvia Currie. Jenny’s theme is open academic practice and Sylvia’s theme is building open communities. I can see an analogy from my description of online teaching, how it has developed, and these new areas of opening. Technology has a central role in these new digital openings. Jenny uses the dimension of limited vs extensive use of digital technologies combined to open digital academic vs. closed and lone academic. Read her blog for better descriptions (I am tired in this phase of writing English 🙂 ).

Sylvia’s pondering about building open communities touched my mind too. She asked if the organizational side of development has taken too much time from the intellectual and social sides. Jenny has a good post with links about Sylvia’s presentation.

Who are the best facilitators in all this development? The answer is not the experts who have forgotten the past difficulties. The best facilitators may be the co-learners who have just learned the thing, just succeeded to solve the problem. The experts may tell about their experiences but they may answer to a wrong question, change the question so that it is more interesting. Now I have a feeling that this all is pretty obvious but I hope that I learned something while writing this 🙂