The funnel of open participation

I want to continue with the theme open participation. I read the slideshare of Doug Clow and want to show one of his slides :

dougclowThe registration is the first step to participate, you can be a lurker without it. The activity finds many ways and the funnel becomes narrower from week to week. Those who are active, develop and progress.

This is not a power law, claims Clow. This is a usual story anyway: steep drop off from one stage to the next. Highly unequal participation pattern can be recognized.

Clow says that we should think less about total dropout and more about why participation reduces at each stage and try to find the patterns of participation. It is possible to widen the funnel if …. what?

I found my old blog post from Nov 23th 2010: Designing for commitment in online communities. There are many good ideas for helping newbies and working with co-learners. Kraut has found two basic ways of commitment: identity-based and bond-based. The first is deep and long lasting motivation, bond-based means social bonds, which last short or longer times.

I did a rough sketch of the activity on Moodle forums of fslt13. This seems to tell the same story which is known from open courses.

viewsThe Arrival Lounge, where everyone tells about her/himself, it has most views. It is a place where you have to return if you want to check the background of a certain participant.

  1. From week 0 I used both reflective statement and supporting learning – discussion, it is the sum.
  2. Week 1 = views about reflective practice discussion
  3. Week 2= teaching groups discussion
  4. Week 3= lecturing discussion.

These numbers are only part of all activity. It would be better to summarize all doings during the week, but I cannot get those numbers directly. The administrators offer better diagrams, this is a rough sketch as I said.

There is activity, thousands views of 149 participants. Participation reduces at each stage, but it turns to the assignments which cannot be seen in this diagram. I leave that part without comments, I have been lazy myself and followed lightly what others do. It is not the best way as Eloise said in a discussion in Twitter #fslt13:

“I feel I’m missing a dimension of #fslt13 bc I’m not doing the assignments – getting a lot out of discussions + webinars.”

If we want to measure or assess the effectiveness of open courses, a proper question could be: Do they ever come to the end? Many of my open courses are still going on and the learning platforms are open. Discussions continue in Facebook Groups, Diigo groups or Twitterchat happenings. Isn’t this a real effectiveness? Drop out numbers seem to be high during courses but new people are coming in afterwards. What is this? Building a global learning community?

Did I say something new? Not sure but I had a need to write this out 🙂

Open education or opening minds?

What is the quality of learning on online open courses, can it be defined or described or understood? This question has been in my mind many years or always. When I try to understand my ongoing open course, fslt13, I simultaneously try to catch learning. During my former MOOC, E-learning and digital cultures, we got an address to Gardner Campbell’s lecture. I blogged about it Feb 8th this year with a heading Learning from the future as it emerges. I was critical in my writing, but now I listened Campbell again and received his message better than three months ago (so I am learning!)

I copy here the recommendation on the former course edcmooc (I cannot write complicated English like this, please enjoy):

Campbell draws on Bateson’s ‘orders of learning’ to explore what open education is, and is not, doing, and what it might do. Using Bateson’s metaphor of the double bind to describe the situation many students (and teachers) find themselves in, Campbell urges that we attempt to make space for double takes, and for what he calls ‘opening education’, which ‘has to provide hospitality, a feeling of home, not so confusion is reduced but so confusion is strengthened’. This lecture is important because it addresses learning as a difficult problem – perhaps the difficult problem – and not as a natural consequence of free access to information.

As a contrast with the other educational perspectives, it serves as a warning that what we really want – our utopia – is not necessarily to be found in the structures we are putting in place (or finding ourselves within). As we move on to talk about how digital culture and digital education might ask us to reconsider the meaning of ‘the human’, let’s leave this week with a big question for pondering: what does ‘opening education’ mean for you?

Campbell, Gardner (2012). Ecologies of Yearning. Keynote at Open Ed ’12, October 16, 2012, Vancouver BC. (63:19)

The lecture is 63 minutes and I think it is better to go to YouTube to listen if you want to take the time. Campbell asks many questions about open education which are worth of pondering. Learning can be on level zero: simple response, or level one: correction of errors, conditioned reflexes (stimulus-response). Level two means learning to learn and context recognition and then the context becomes a trap. Level three means meta-contextual perspectives, not just adaptation but own choices, to become human. This is a challenge: how to see more than usual contexts. Don’t fake the double take, Campbell says. He yearns for opening minds, I think, open education (as MOOCs) as such is not enough, it can have the same content and ways to study, without any deep changes.

Opening needs feeling of home and moments of choosing. We shall not cease from exploration. Hunger for new learning and a little love combined is the ideal which is hard to reach. Perhaps we have much of this quality in fslt13? I remember how George Roberts blogged about fslt and how Marion Waite follows  participants in fslt13 and organizes different ways to support. Many excellent participants do their best and we are learning. But anyways: We see things as we are, not as things are. What does this mean in my thinking, or yours? I have been pondering same questions on 1970’ties and still do. Waste of time or what may be this  back to basics dreaming?

Learning outcomes for #edcmooc

The course edcmooc is ending: we have assessed each other and  got the feedback. It is good to ponder the assessment issues, I always do when a course is over. There are numerous ways to assess learning but no simple ways. I deal with following three ways:

1. The facilitators evaluation in their blog and the two hangouts.

I took my heading from Christine Sinclair, her blog post, . I have appreciated the team blog “Teaching E-Learning and Digital Cultures” – it gave a connection to our facilitators thoughts and feelings. I liked to compare their view to my own and usually I agreed with the writers. So happened this time: Christine was pondering how complex are the outcomes, not easy to define. The creativity is fantastic and enjoyable, it has no limits. Only some outcomes can be recognized immediately and it would be fine to check the outcomes after a year.

The team blog also gave facts and quantified information about the happenings during the course. It helped participants to reflect.

2. The peer grading was planned to be rather simple. We had to assess these five components: The artefact

  1. – addresses one or more themes for the course
  2. – suggests that the author understands at least one key concept from the course
  3. – has something to say about digital education.
  4. The choice of media is appropriate for the message.
  5. The artefact stimulates a reaction in you, as its audience, e.g. emotion, thinking, action.

This seems to work when we had only 0-1-2 points to give. The descriptions and arguments were more important than grades and showed how the co-learner had understood the artefact. They are the real feedback.

On this course participants begun to publish their artefacts in different forums and got much feedback in FB group and their blogs’ comments. The assessment was rather public, and it was considered natural. Only the three *official’ evaluators were anonymous.

3. Self assessment goes through the course and the other reflections only mirror it.

Here I try to describe three levels of reflection. I have tried to reflect after many courses, look for instance Oct 2011 “Three years blogging, learning journey” . This time I have a hunch that  I’ve really learned better than ever,  and I want to show it.

I have basic skills and motivations and many meta-skills for learning. It is possible to participate, I don’t frustrate too much about the amount of knowledge and different devices , I know that so it must be. I do not believe that clear rules were a good way to help students, the disorientation must be experienced and a new way must be built up from choice to another. You cannot find yourself by obeying other people and following clear rules. Everyone has feelings of loneliness on massive open courses.

But how could I describe the new and broader  perspective of e-learning and digital cultures. Gardner Campbell had a lecture about real vs fake changes. I have the feeling of real change just now, how wonderful it is to open eyes and understand more deeply  what is going on and see own limits. I have believed that humanity is true and simple goal. No, we have never been human said Steve Fuller. I didn’t know the many possibilities of posthuman and transhuman worlds. I have learned some new content and attitudes, no doubt.

I have learned participation too. This course has many excellent students who built FB group, Twitter chats and wikis. It seems that the idea of MOOC has developed a new generation who really is self directive and uses the technological possibilities. There were models to follow, friends to ask help. For instance Chris at the beginning and Fran Monaghan in the forums, she followed new questions there and answered to many co-learners. The facilitators are not alone, every student can be a facilitator.

This edcmooc was a great experience, the facilitators were excellent models and so were the peers. I learned a lot, time will tell how much. I am not sure anymore what should be the object of assessment: individual student or the course at a whole? Perhaps I should describe the new networked learner?


Transhumanism: knowledge and practice #edcmooc

I cannot stop enjoying the creative digital artefacts which students on ELearning and Digital Cultures have created. There are no limits in human minds when the atmosphere is supportive and curious to new things. You can see numerous fantastic artefacts here.

I present this time one assignment which offers much knowledge, many excellent sources about transhumanism. It is a TingLink made by Ligia Toutain, Transhuman Technology and Disablity.  There is a lot to read and listen, transhumanist music too, a place to come back again and again.

Humanity’s potential is still mostly realized, I have understood during these edcmooc studies. I want to link another artefact, which gives life to transahumanistic ideas. It is made by Luis Poza Garcia and could be our mascot. I fell in love with that lovely robot and should like to discuss more with him.. or her?


Are we learning any more?

#edcmooc is going to its end and I am enjoying other students’ fine artefacts. I want to present here one of the most touching artefact in my mind. The questions of learning and evolving are serious. I have written about the same theme in my own language earlier, but here the question touched me deeply. My personal memory is my best property and it cannot be outsourced, it means mental death.

Here it comes, thanks to Madhura Pradhan who made this video.

The link to Madhura’s own post is here and her Twitter name is @maddiekp

Human interaction changes? week 2 #edcmooc

This week’s theme is looking to the future and I’ll stay in my interest topic ‘How is human interaction changing when we have new technological devices?’ There is a video Sight, skillfully made but the content? Disgusting I think.

Sight explores how the ubiquity of data and the increasingly blurry line between the digital and the material might play out in the sphere of human relationships. The focus on the emerging social and educational use of game-based ‘badging’ is particularly interesting. What is going on here, and how do you interpret the ending?

Human relationship as a game? The first date as a part of this human hunting game? Those thoughts which the participants got via Sight must be very near normal (!) natural intuition in decision making. These assessments suddenly happen in the mind but we do not want to see it written. It must be the secret. It is very scary to know human mind totally. Experience more or feel more – perhaps wanted but NOT in this way. I want to maintain the natural unclear way to learn to know each other. To look at the profile is OK but not to look at the mind. I am happy that it is not possible and will not be in the future.

Here comes the video, enjoy! I interpret that the woman doesn’t want to play with the guy’s dating apps any more and leaves away.


Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

Fantasy and science fiction: Eric Rabkin

I want to continue my blogging on the course ‘Fantasy and science fiction. The human mind. Our modern world’ by telling about our professor Eric Rabkin. His videos created the atmosphere needed to maintain motivation and hard work. He spoke to me and to everyone, from heart to heart. I learned a lot about literature as a science (this was my first course) but it was not the only point. Professor  Rabkin has the ability to empower students, he helps to find the best inside us (how to say that better in English?)

In the discussion forums there are many threads owned to Eric Rabin. We want to thank him and should like to continue studies with him. The best.thread.ever. is “Professor Rabkin’s closet” in general discussions, began by William Richards. In one of his video lectures, Rabkin promised to tell us what is in the closet behind him. This  inspired many students to use their imagination and photo manipulation skills to present optional answers. This is my favorite, made by William Richards 2.9.2012. I only changed the color to moonlight, I think it works.

Where o where does my raven repose?
That is the question that Poe does propose.
Where has he lost it
God only knows
Ask the professor
In poem not prose
Look there it is right in front of his nose

The online community of students is as important as it is in f2f studies. The teacher influences the atmosphere very much. Eric shared his love to languages and literature and motivated us by sharing this passion. He shared his confidence toward us by appreciating our essays. He told that he learned much from us, in such a way, that it did not sound to be a phrase.  He was really interested in this open course where people learn from people around the globe. His attitude  is the opposite of cynicism. I thank him from the bottom of my heart just as he said to us in his last video with feelings in his voice.

His videos were easy to follow for us non native English speakers. He spoke slowly enough and used gestures, spoke with his hands – and through his whole personality. He seemed to love his work and us, every student on the course. More this kind of teaching and learning makes the world better. The aim of the course was to help everyone think more imaginatively, read more deeply and write more powerfully – and this became true in my mind.

I give the last words to Eric Rabkin, his farewell e-mail to us ended “Thank you for your participation, your kindness, and all you’ve taught each other and me. Ours is truly a new world of learning.”

How to contribute wisely?

Still pondering about my participation in the course fslt12 in order to help the researchers and myself as well. Answering this comment: “.. would be interesting to know if you felt that you helped other with their learning in any way… if you felt that you contributed to the collective level ..?” This is a challenging question again and got me to think :

What is a contribution actually? Does it need to be heard? But if happens only in one participant’s blog post, is it a contribution? The timing is another important factor here I suppose. And then a simple diagram:

There are “good” discussions going on, for instance about learning or teaching. The topics are in line with the course curriculum, everyone wants those topics. When you give something that helps others and they give feedback, everything is fine = contribution A. So what I did:

  • I gave a map (Google map) so that participants could see how global the course was. Some liked, not everyone. But the purpose was to help.
  • I checked my online habits in a blog post and gave lists of others’ blogs – and said thanks to Eleni Zazani who had helped me. This is community building I suppose.
  • I analysed the feelings during third week – it was a mirror to others and there are comments. This was conceptual work and I appreciate this more than my secretary work (the map, the lists etc).

My main feeling is that I was somewhere in the border of fslt12 community and did not contribute to the collective level in the Moodle discussions. Sometimes I mentioned that I agree and gave some sources of Finnish education to them who were interested (Ida, Lucy). I was disappointed to myself that I could not give more, my expectations were higher (read: always too high).

Contribution B is for instance my blog post about the British Empire. I did not wait for comments either – I knew it was outside the course but I wrote it anyway. It is not good to be so critical that you cannot write out of topic. I am still studying the Empire, we have interesting TV series going on in Finland. Global courses always teach about other countries, it is fine.

I am not used to conceptualize on the collective level, I have forgotten that word (it was used in the political student movement when I was young). I have used ‘community’ instead. Collaboration or co-operation could suit better? I could say that I was near some emerging moments but not in any collaboration.  I have read again some papers of Allison Littlejohn which she offered in Change11 in autumn 2011. I liked her research orientation, I was interested in the same questions. But it is better to write a separate blog post about her concepts  so that I can write on a general level, not only my experiences in fslt12. These self assessments have been very useful to myself, I wonder if this is the last one (said so many times already).


Did I change in fslt12?

Eleni Boursinou and Jenny Mackness are researchers and they want to understand learning in the course fslt12 (May-June 2012, Oxford Brookes University). I have blogged eight posts about my thoughts and this will be the last one. I want to help the researchers but I am not sure if I have anything new to say. I was an outsider, with assignments and assessment the experience had been different. I am an old, individual moocer and do what I want and when I can take the time.

Jenny is interested in this question:  What evidence is there for the ways people learn in MOOCs. ( Jenny’s blog post). After my comment she asked: How finding evidence differs from measuring learning?

Eleni Boursini wants to explore how people participate in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (i.e. behavioural, interaction and engagement patterns). By observing learning behaviours she aims to develop an understanding of how learning occurs through networks. She is interested in collecting examples of changes occurred through participation in a MOOC, by asking participants of the fslt12 MOOC to write short narrative descriptions of their experiences on the course: what changed, and how? Is this story about:

  • A change in your conceptual understanding (connecting the dots: changes in concepts and relationships between them)
  •  A change in your behaviour (changes in ways of doing)
  • A change in your professional identity (changes in ways of being and becoming
  • Other:

I love these challenging questions and try to answer now, a month after the course has ended. I have pondered how the learning process is a part of my life and cannot be explained without contextualizing it my work life history and my retirement in 2010. I made some simple diagrams to describe the situation how I feel it.

My motivation based on learning more about learning and to compare the Oxford Brookes University course to the teacher education where I had been working. The British education is very appreciated in Finland (students go to England and pay a lot of money to get it). I felt that I have to leave this comparison because it was not the topic. It was only a frame in my mind.

I had an idea of sharing my experiences and knowledge. The main perception was that the content, the theorists were just the same. Now I got them in digital format, earlier via books.

Did I learn, did I change? No, but I was happy. All the discussions convinced me that we had been on the right way in our teacher education.

The next step is to connect my online experiences to my participation in fslt12. I know how to give attention to others and try to find mutual interests. I mentioned people and their blogs and topics. A simple diagram about this all:

Almost all my online networking has dealt with my professional areas: learning and teaching, facilitating. This fslt12 course focused same themes and I enjoyed the sessions with guest speakers. I got some new ideas and perspectives, critical views and broad thinking.Most visitors to my blog came from other sources, not fslt sites or participants – but if I want to be positive, I got new knowledge in the sessions and I had the opportunity to observe experienced chatters at work.

“Some efforts to analyse” MOOC behavior means that I considered the third week loneliness in one of my posts. Jenny came to discuss about unrealistic expectations in open courses an told that she does not enter MOOCs with the expectation of making strong connections. If they come, it is a bonus, she said. Vanessa told that she is more engaged and less lonely when participating open courses. She has left behind wrong expectations. This was a moment of learning to me. I also loved Eleni Zazani’s concept “small pockets of deep learning” in blog comments.

I am living through a slow process of retirement and so my greatest insight in fslt12 dealt with my problems to retire, leave something behind me. I learned that I don’t want to take responsibility of Finnish (or global) education any more. I cannot tell all the time how we did that in 1980’s – I do not find the way to meet novices in a constructive manner. I am not convinced that it is fine or reasonable to use open courses for random people. Still one diagram about my situation:

I feel that I should take a big step to something new way to participate in online courses. I have to use my autonomy and do what I want. I had decided not to participate any courses anymore but I tried fslt12 in spite of my decision.

I have practiced to live in the middle of many tensions and uncertainty many decades and supported my students and colleagues in this all .. but there are always challenges.. many insights must be found again and again.

You are never ready to life. There were some excellent microteaching cases at the end of the fslt course, which can help me in my challenges. I remember Eleni Zazani’s digital identity – how to take care of it. I need those devices and have used them.

What I have to answer to the researcher Eleni B. still? What are my patterns? Do I ever check them? I had a blog post about this – I have my habits from year to year. How about my changes in fslt12: a few conceptual, no behavioral changes, no professional identity changes anymore – but a deeper understanding of my retirement process. My networking has developed during many open courses and now I feel myself  confident. The internet is my open course in future and I’ll survive …





Old and new commonwealth in fslt12

Two weeks break in my fslt12 studies and why? I have been traveling and participating elsewhere, met my wonderful grandson etc When I came back to this fslt course I noticed that I’ve problems in motivating myself to ponder about school teaching and courses. I am not a teacher any more (retired 2010-) and I must take a broader perspective or more distance to concrete questions. This week I became interested in the Queen Jubilee which gives two free days for workers in England. Britain has a long history of commonwealth, it has influenced directly to 25% of countries in the world. I liked the slideshow which David Roberts tweeted. There has been a project for gathering information and experiences from 1952 to 2012 Jubilee.

Some connections can be seen between the map of participants in fslt12 and the British Commonwealth (Imperium? which word  to use?). We have students from Canada’s British parts, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Only me and some people from USA come outside the British world and we are not so far mentally. History is not history, it is still  living in our minds. When I followed the Jubilee concert last night and saw all those people celebrating I thought that we will never live only rationally. Emotions are strong and mythical elements.

What about new commonwealth? Is there any that could be named so? Open online studies and communities around them are sometimes assessed to ‘save the world’. Connecting People was the brand of Finnish Nokia mobile. It’s a fine purpose. What is happening in this new brave world of moocers? How to avoid of repeating the same mistakes that human beings have always done?