Network as curriculum?

Now I want to follow my thoughts about the difference between community and network. These concepts have different roots as far as I can follow them. Community includes more psychological knowledge, people are acting in them and and building relationships with each other. A community may be healthy or communication models inside it can be distorted and they can even be called sick. Network is often described using mathematical models. Networks have nodes and connections etc. You have to know the network theory in order to be up-to-date. If you know only communities, you may be old-fashioned. In other words: the community research is old and run by psychologists. The network research is newer and run my mathematical geniuses and young male nerds. I am reading Barabasi LINKED: The New Science of Networks, so don’t blame me about my old knowledge base. 🙂

Communities include all psychological possibilities in them. They can provoke creativity or inhibition, they may be open or divided in small groups. Networks vary between centralised or distributed. It is not a coincidence that in rhizo14 we have community as curriculum. Simultaneously we have some properties of the network tradition.  It means that participants are equal when it comes  to collaborating, producing and sharing content. It also means that we are responsible for the events in the atmosphere or  human relations or whatever. We can try to make the course better, both its content and its working.

Social self-organisation is the concept used on the internet about crowds or networks without a leader: it is a functional model for temporary collective action and collaboration. I have many times been wondering if it is possible. Birds can fly coordinated in a crowd and I’ve had the same feeling in the London Underground when crossing crowds meet without touching each other. But I haven’t seen or experienced self-organisation taken place in complex mental solutions. I have seen fan clubs building up (do we have a Dave Cormier fan club in rhizo14?) Our communication tools lead to defining followers and following people, we get the numbers every day. It is good to be popular.

The tradition in self-organisation has found that  it needs something or someone to coordinate and facilitate:  an anchor (topic) and the organiser (P2P) and leader (Dave), and the tools for sharing and conversations. My conclusion after pondering the rhizo community is that we have many experienced moocers, who are willing to try to implement the idea of shared responsibility in community as curriculum, we are ready to take the power 🙂 Many bloggers have been working on this theme. I copy here some of my favorites, Tanya and Francess, they have better English than me and I can rest a moment when I let them speak.

.. the interaction and conversations have been primarily driven by the participants’ various interests and interpretation of Dave’s ‘questions’ (or thought prompts, if you like). Aside from topic, and these weekly prompts, there really isn’t much else directing what happens, so it becomes up to us. And there is a huge variety of interests and lines of thinking that people choose to pursue. Even discussions in blog posts tend to evolve and morph into directions that may stray from the original post. There’s no explicit ‘goal’ or ‘task’ to complete or focus on that might otherwise lead us to form more tightly focused collaborative groupings. Thus we wander looking for threads of interest, and finding connections along the way. So are we really a ‘community’, or just a network of …
.. the weekly tasks may be shaping the community (and hence the curriculum). I am finding them difficult to interpret, and increasingly samey. .. there is a danger of us getting stuck in polarisations of ideas when what we are trying to make sense of a happening which is much more complicated than that. This ties in with what Tanya says here about community. .. we can also shape the curriculum ourselves if we are honest and tough with civility.

Frances 2. This is copied from her former blog post:

Rhizomatic learning  is the subject of our MOOC,  we could be influenced by what Dave puts in the P2PU space or by agents who promote or suppress topics.  This has significant implications for the ‘community is the curriculum’ – the curriculum can become a site of struggle within the community.
Rhizomatic thinking encourages connections between people with different ‘knowledge’. We all have our own rhizo 14 as we try to navigate the dense forest of posts, links, comments. I am not disappointed as I was never looking for pure theory posts but rather applications of ideas to practice accompanied by dialogue. Some of these ideas might be framed by other people’s ideas (that we could call theories), some might be stories . If none related to rhizomatic thinking/learning I would be surprised. Anyway, I am neither surprised nor disappointed in this respect as I am seeing a lot dialogue where people are listening and talking without defining themselves as one thing or another unless it is relevant to what they are talking about.

I enjoy that description of the happenings in rhizo. This is a creative process.Yesterday I found Maureen’s blog and today Maha Bali told her story. It is not possible to describe everything what is happening in the course.

I add only one source because this post is too long already. Terry Elliot mentioned a video of John Cleese about creativity: a deep dive to the creative mindset. I watched it (36 min) and agreed with its conclusions. Creativity is not a talent but way of operating with playful, open mood. Creativity needs space, time (period), time (enough, no hurry), confidence and humour. Do we have these in rhizo14? Time is lacking but we have shared humour a lot. I noticed many creative headings for this week in the Facebook : World of Warcraft is curriculum by Simon Ensor, Consumity is curriculum (Simon again). Playing as Homo Ludens – do we take the time for it? I have a feeling that we should take better care about pedagogy and not only praise the abundance which prevents learning.

Should I add the links to the comments or blogs which I mentioned? I have become lazy with the links, they may stop working and I speak to a certain community where the people can be found.


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”.

Sense of virtual community in rhizo14

I am interested in the question what makes online communities work. My previous course was edcmooc and I observed the same question: the Five Fantastic Facilitators worked as a team and the active participants began the course a long time before the course was opened. I enjoyed seeing that a new internet generation had been born and was working well. Then I followed my old friends to rhizo14 and I am asking similar questions.

Miia Kosonen is a researcher in Finland and I want to use one of her slide presentations in order to use proper concepts. Miia became Dr with dissertation research about Knowledge sharing in communities some years ago and she has followed the research. I’ve my experiences as a reflection tool and I want to compare my experiences with the research findings. Here is the slideshare

Rhizo14 can be described as e-Tribe, virtual network community or online crowd (my opinion of course). We can define it (slide 3) by telling about the participants. Some of us began in CCK08 and we know each other from many connections. Another branch in my eyes comes from edcmooc, many people were active there. There must be other paths too, but I know these ways. Shared interest is not easy or clear to define. Rhizomatic learning may be the core interest to many participants, I follow more the other title “Community as curriculum”. I am exploring it. What is the community level social capital for us? We have trust but not shared language all the time. We do not like norms, but we must have many hidden norms and rules ‘how to behave  on the course’. We have conversations because many participants are good at it and Dave Gormier is excellent  (have you watched the discussions with Jeff Lebow and the group). Dave is open-minded and easy to become acquainted to. He is authentic in front of camera, he speaks to us. When he says that he trusts us, I want to believe 🙂

Slide 4 gives a nice structure to handling with living in a virtual community. Needs and expectations differ, action varies from active to lurking and roles (blogging, commenting, discussing or nothing visible). Feelings of membership lead to identification with the group and feelings of learning and support, insights and immersion. Building relationships becomes true, I’ve got some new names to follow. I remembered an old post of this blog about designing commitment . It defines two kind of relationships: bond-based or identity-based. Bonds are social, connections to people (for instance my interest to joining). Identity is connected to values and interests, things. I cannot define what values we have in common in rhizo14 but there must be some humanistic or making the world better -interests or is this only my imagination? I liked that old post (PLENK2010) and the level of the discussion.

Slide 5 gives many perspectives to virtual communities. My orientation is psychological, cognitive and social combined with the analysis of virtual life generally. I can describe my experiences during rhizo14 (and guess at the others’ feelings but it is better that everybody tells him/herself).

I have enjoyed watching recordings of the hangouts, also the Teachers teach teachers (TTT) meeting. It was nice to see Terry Elliot, Vanessa and Sarah. Feelings of nearness are stronger when I watch the videos. Some blog posts have interested me and I have written a few comments. FB group discussions are so abundant that I often skip them. I remember Lucy’s story about a deeply touching experience, it touched me too. Perhaps it was one of the longest threads, over 80 comments but I read everyone. Mostly I have a sense of looking in from the outside or far away what are they doing – I seldom have a feeling of belonging to this community. It was not a joke when I asked Dave in a FB discussion thread (it was for the newcomers) that why sign up? Is it needed? I am interested in the topic ‘community as curriculum’ but not in rhizomes.  The themes which Dave offers every week have been so obvious to me that they do not inspire any more or I have no need to answer or comment. But I’ll deepen my analysis about online communities and how a curriculum can be based on people.

I liked this description of virtual participation, written by Apostolos in FB group
“There is a “core” group of people I “follow,” and this depends on a combination of factors including interactions, interest in content, and so on. Then there is a group of people that are a little further out for me (the quotient of that combination of factors is lower than the core group, but it still on my radar), and then there are people that I just don’t interact with. So, I would say that for me it’s all shades of gray, and the further out you go and the gray fades to white, the less involved I am with those participants.”

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…

Some ideas for the year 2014

This is a test. I’ll try to find my aims for this year by writing about my expectations. How to participate in this international world? I’ve some circles of friends here and there and – after deciding not to participate in any course – I have noticed that many of my friends began the course “Rhizomatic Learning” run by Dave Cormier. I am a member of the FB group “Rhizo14” already and read enthusiastic writings by many people which I’ve met in previous courses. So, what to do? Perhaps I must get acquainted with the course programme and participate those weeks which are immersive enough. The real reason for participation are the people, anyway, I trust their capacity to interact with the co-learners. The spirit will be as fantastic as it was in edcmooc. So I follow people, not topics. It is a waste of time to ponder about my aims or interests, I’ll find them only by participating.

Other interesting programmes seem to be Community Manager Appreciation Day ( for community workers in Finland, 27th January. There seems to be English sites as well. They have video stream all the day.

LAK14 will be in 24-28.3. in Indiapolis USA. I hope that I can follow it on the internet. Learning Analytic conferences have been the best arenas for research presentations. There was a meeting around MOOC research  in Texas in November or December but while watching the presentations I had to conclude that very few were about research, only practice. The speakers were wondering why they were invited to the meeting.

Networked Learning is the theme of NLC2014, 7-9.4. in Edinburgh and I know that I can find interesting research there. Many of my friends have presentations there, Finnish people and people from the other side of the globe. The content has always been challenging and there are preliminary meetings in their web environment.

And I have to remember JISC and ALT and ELESIG webinars. Athabasca University offers open CIDER sessions and the Journal IRRODL. In Europe we have our own EURODL .

Now I have answered a question “with whom and in which networks I will participate” in the beginning of the year 2014. And I can follow my learning moments and share them with other participants. It is so simple, is it?

I try to find an image of winter here because I don’t like to show the aqueduct of Segovia two times so near to each other. We have got snow lately in Jyväskylä and cold times have begun. Let’s enjoy!



My blog's life during edcmooc2

I have a tradition to explore my blog’s life every now and then. Google Analytics makes the exploration easy and tempts to use its devices. I have an ambivalent attitude to this all, because I haven’t set any goals to my blog and I am not after big numbers. A blog needs visitors, it is sure, but the numbers of visits are only raw data. It is not easy to interpret what is happening. I’ll try anyway and give the basic data here:

edc2viewcroMy nine posts are marked in the timeline and you can see the influence of my writings. The biggest number of pageviews is before the course began, 120 views per day.

I blogged 3.9. about my footprints during the first edcmooc and this post was visible in the course news. Perhaps I got readers via the news. No comments but many views – it is digital life. My post from 3rd September got 149 visits and it is twice the numbers of the next posts: The pedagogical principles of MOOCs (79 and 3 for its comments) and My orientation to edcmooc (69+30 to comments). It is easy to see a connection between the facilitators’ actions and the visits to my blog: Pedagogical principles – post was commented on the team blog and Hamish commented to My orientation- post. The following post is human presence in edcmooc (47) and the last is critical peer feedback (12).

I wrote nine posts this time and the posts received 22 comments from six people. In edcmooc1 I wrote more posts (15) and got more comments (32). This time I had a feeling that I participated outside the course and I had a different orientation to my studies. One of the peer reviewers said this precisely in his/her feedback. I was more interested in learning and less in digital cultures. You cannot participate a course twice with similar motives and interests, they change all the time.

I have gathered the information from Google Analytics to a prezi, which I intend to embed in the end of this post. Here I’ll try to handle only the most important numbers. This blog had 579 visitors, 967 visits and 1917 pageviews from 4.11. to 10.12. These numbers are higher than during the first edcmooc in February (721 visits, 1460 pageviews), but I cannot interpret why. This blog includes one post from the year 2010 about learning theories of teacher education, which receives continuous attention : no comments but readers. Is it the good reputation of Finland’s education or what is it? I don’t know. That post was the most popular one during edc2 as well: it got 288 visits. It is more than the footprints (149) or the actual course posts (80- 15). During the first edc the number was 188. The influence of edcmoocs to my blog is perhaps less than I  imagined.

The percent of new visitors during the period was 58, which means 336 new people and 243 ‘old’ones. The ways which the visitors used to find my blog tell something. From 967 visits 231 came directly, Google organic 229 , Twitter 177 and edcmooc sites 116. Google Analytics shows some connection between the acquisition and behavior.


Those who come directly have a higher bounce rate than via organic search or social devices and the referral way is highest in staying. How to interpret, I don’t know. Some people take a glimpse at my blog. Perhaps they remember my name when/if they meet it next time, recognising names is one of the skills on the internet.

Over 200 people had visited my blog more than 20 times and 190 people had read my posts longer than a minute. Perhaps I’ve about 200 permanent visitors. So what? If I had followed the visitors’ interests, I would have written more about learning theories in Finnish teacher education for adults. I am retired now and my interest lies in international open courses and learning at these courses or learning in the internet. It has been my perspective a long time and I want to deepen it to research. That’s why I am so interested in the Footprints wiki and want to assess it in the near future.

Here comes the prezi which includes a lot of information about visits to this blog. Thanks to Google Analytics for the content. I chose a labyrinth template because I got lost there and my ambivalent attitude tells me that this is all boring.



Human presence in #edcmooc

My heading was first Human presence in massive open courses but I made it shorter. I am following the edcmooc course and contextualise all my thoughts accordingly.

In week 3, we are looking at examples of approaches which respond to the apparent threat to ‘the human’ posed by technology by re-asserting the importance of what is irreplaceably valuable in human ways of being and learning.  We are considering the view that human nature and human ways of being are in some sense under threat by technology, and that this has the potential to undermine the basis of our commitment to humanist ideas which underlie many educational philosophies and approaches to practice, such as equality, freedom and autonomy.

What are the different ways of human presence in purely online-held courses? I have a personal history of working as an online facilitator and I had a feeling about being closer to my adult students online than if it had been f2f. I am convinced that human presence is possible online, but it is not easy to define its conditions. I had an excellent partner, Pekka Ihanainen, with whom I facilitated some online courses for two teacher education colleges (in Finland). We wrote and published about our experiences but only in Finnish. I’ll try now to tell shortly about our findings. As I said in another blog post, I have a feeling that edcmooc is similar with our way of facilitating adult students’ learning.

Dialogical space is a necessary condition and facilitators have a role in creating it. Dialogical space is safe and supporting, creative and challenging. It is the atmosphere in which everyone wants to do his/her best and enjoys the work. Presence can be described in many ways and the parts are connected to each other. This image helps to define the dialogical conditions:

Dia2Facilitating presence includes all actions which help the students to learn. We used the concept “didactical” but it is not used in English and “pedagogical” does not sound good, so I chose the term facilitating presence.

Emotional presence is very challenging and interesting to define. The teacher must be personal, it is not good to hide one’s personality. It is good to locate oneself in some ways. In edcmooc  we took photos about ourselves in a Hangout situation. We can see that we are human beings (with much technology 🙂 ). Emotional connections are between people but also toward online studies. It is good to share problems and solutions and be anxious together. And to build up community humour when it is possible.

Cognitive presence is easy to understand, but it is complex in practice. We have a duty to disturb our students intellectually, said someone in edcmooc. It is good to avoid direct guiding , and better to support students as they find their way. The general guide lines must be clear, but thinking and assessing is students’ work.

When the community reaches a dialogical state and finds its own working habits, every monologue is also a component in the shared dialogue and new connections are found. It is emergent learning, every participant is learning and creating. In edcmooc the photo “competition” in week 3 supports this side of studies, otherwise it could be too serious.

I took a short glimpse at other theorists in this field. I remember Terry Anderson and the many research groups, who were working on this theme in 2006-2007. Here are links to Anderson’s blog post and this slideshare.  This image integrates the basic concepts.

Dia1In the middle of the diagram is educational experience. Social presence includes emotional presence. Setting climate connects social presence to teaching presence.

Supporting the discourse combines social and cognitive presence. Teacher selects and recommends the content.

I like the concept of triggering events, it describes the dynamics of learning. Sense of community is another important concept. Otherwise studies can be only external performance with little engagement. I am myself very sensitive to the atmosphere: I registered to an American mooc which was organised correctly (like edcmooc) but I interpreted that the teachers were not authentical themselves and the course was only a play and all supporting acts were like following rules, and same to each student. I don’t want to tell the name of the course, I wish good luck to them. I registered and watched some videos, that was all I did.

I return back to edcmooc again. Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on? I wanted to say that the humanistic project is possible in certain conditions.

Often the question about online teaching is that what is lacking in it concerning human communication. Hersh’s solution was to incorporate more video and audio components into the course-delivery mechanism. Most professors who teach online already incorporate short video and audio clips into their courses. But it is rarer, Hersh says, for professors to use videos of themselves to teach or interact with their online.  I think that in edcmooc the Hangouts bring the facilitators near us, but the most important thing is the atmosphere of equality and enthusiasm to understand elearning and digital cultures. We are studying with our facilitators and assistants without any hierarchy.

My orientation to edcmooc number 2

The first week of the second edcmooc course given by the Edinburgh University has passed and I have passively followed what’s going on. Actually, the edcmooc course never ended in my mind. The previous blog post deals with the 1st course and the FB group has worked all the time. Fran sent me an email before the course began and I have followed her blog. Some of active students on the 1st course are now called ‘community teaching assistants’ and they participate even more actively this time.

I have been passive but I am happy with my situation. No hurry needed, I may do what I want, I am not performing anything, just enjoying. Twitter seems to be an important tool for following, and the course news too. It was delightful to meet Chris Jobling in Twitter again (he participated in PLENK2010).  The first Hangout on Friday was great and it is good to have those meetings every week.

I give time to my thoughts to develop in my mind, thoughts and feelings. I can analyse the factors which are important to me: the team seems to work even better than in the 1st course. They are an excellent model as a facilitating team in online studies. They are able to interact with us, they give feedback about the discussions and tell us about their ponderings. They listen and respect each other and us, the participants. I feel at home as a passive participant in the course. That’s why I speak about my orientation, it is the right concept I think.

My orientation has long roots. I was an online teacher (in teacher education in Finland) until retirement 2010 and I had developed a similar kind of pedagogy as the edcmooc team. I gave freedom to my students both in content and time schedules and asked for only one assignment with a free subject. It is good to choose yourself. All this freedom is challenging and this is one of the questions that are dealt with in edcmooc at the beginning. This is normal but not so interesting to me any more. I am free and I have no need to ask if I am free or not. I have to use my freedom, that’s it.

My interest is the human mind, what is happening to learning and interaction in digital life. I want to understand this question more deeply during the next weeks and my digital artefact should handle with this questions. I don’t know how, but in some way 🙂  I love the way how we deal with the long history of mankind (from the ancient Greeks) and the tradition of Edinburgh University (thanks Sian Bayne). I want to feel how my consciousness broadens in order to understand human life better and better. Is there something called time, what is it? I admire the way how the facilitators use their expertise: they have no need to tell about their research (I found in my doctoral dissertation this and this, listen to me) – instead they use their expertise flexibly in the interaction and they give space to new thoughts. they wait and respect every new question.  They are open and inquiry oriented or research oriented (how to say this in English?) We are all peer learners but the facilitators’ model is relevant for creating the course atmosphere.

Today is all Fathers Day and our adult son came to meet his father, so I want to participate f2f. See you later!

EDIT 12.11. correcting my English (adding the and prepositions – we don’t have those in Finnish 🙂



Footprints of emergence: presence

The story continues more footprints will be described in this post.

Presence/Writing is defined as exploring, articulating and networking yourself, your ideas and your feelings. (Why writing in the heading? is it supposed that writing is crucial in expressing oneself?). There are five factors in this quadrant. Presence is personal, I think, so I have to tell about my doings and feelings during edcmooc.


Solitude and contemplation. The dimension begins from isolation, untested ideas, echo-chambers and ends to personal space for interaction with people and texts. Edcmooc offered plenty of opportunity for interaction but also plenty of opportunity to stand back and reflect. I had a blog as usual and I built a network of other blogs around it. I was alone when I wanted and interconnected when it suited to my mind. Should I describe this situation as light zone, sweet emergence?

Casual encounters/ conversations. From highly formalised interaction to chance, serendipitous encounters. I don’t remember any highly formalised interactions during edcmooc. Also the G+hangouts  which were planned by the facilitators, were very relaxed and enjoyable. We could not speak there, but we could chat by writing and one of facilitators followed chatting. Serendipitous encounters I remember very well, they made my feeling comfortable. So where goes my mark, to outer darkening blue perhaps.

Networks, encounters and engagement. From formalised, inflexible groups to initiating, creating, engaging with new contacts and groups. Edcmooc was the only mooc where students organised meetings and places for them already before the course begun. This kind of networking and encountering continued through the course, it was open, new friends available all the time. So I have to give full marks – the dark blue = challenging emergent learning. I cannot assess only my behavior, this factor needs other participants too.

Hybrids, informal/ante-formal. From mono-media, mono-modal, abstract interaction to diversity and choice of media and modes. This factor is easy to describe in edcmooc: it is challenging learning with the latter end of the dimension: diversity and choice of media. The assignments showed great variety of media. The topic digital cultures tempted to this direction. So my mark will go to dark blue, sharp emergence.

In/formal writing and inscriptions (what is the difference between these words?) From formal ritualised assessment to informal, creative, light interaction. In edcmooc the assignments promoted creativity and assessment was rather open. All should be accepted if it was seriously done. Perhaps – or surely- there was also diversity in assessments: one of students got feedback that her digital artefact was too serious. I thought her work was well done. My mark goes to sharp emergence.

Expert participants in the fslt13 syllabus

When I explored the history of the department of Psychology (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) I noticed that the first professors had some voluntary assistants around them. They helped in many ways and were postgraduate students at the same time. Now we have this situation in MOOCs. In this post I take this expert participant question very practically: what was asked and what I did. I cannot describe the process from others’ point of view, only mine.

Marion’s blog says that in fslt13 the facilitators have taken an approach to maximise the role of the expert participant. They sent emails to people like me.  I felt myself flattered (to be an expert at Oxford u know 🙂 ) and so I answered yes. Expert participants were invited to help

  1. facilitate and moderate discussion forums,
  2. support other participants in learning activities and assessments and facilitate peer marking.

I had to leave the second task because I could not participate in British markings. Actually I commented some assignments which were published in blogs. By commenting outside the Moodle I could be myself 🙂 . I had problems with the first task as well. I have told in the former posts how I felt to be in a wrong place and did not want to offer direct support all the time. I would like to wait more and let the students find their ways. I could say for instance about the profile photo that they use Gravatar, and I could send a message to tutor’s forum and ask them to notice a comment in my blog. I did not facilitate the discussion on the forums or I did it only very little.

But I did something else. I have this blog and I gathered the students’ blogs in my blogroll. So it was easier to check if there was any new posts. The same could be done in the fslt13 sites > community but to use my blog was comfortable. I liked others’ posts and wrote comments. I followed Twitter #fslt13 and greeted there some students, favorited and retweeted. I joined to Diigo group which Cris Crissman built for us. I noticed how Cris tried to flip her session and I retweeted about it.

I began to model open online participation and wrote many posts about it: power law or free will or what is this diminishing of participants. I published these questions on Expert participant forum and got feedback. I scanned the numbers of Moodle participation and shared that information. I wondered why last two weeks student assignments were presented in closed small groups. Those sessions were said to be open but it was double-bind-speak. I noticed this, if I took the freedom to go in.

I suppose that this part of my blogging, modelling open participation, will be the most meaningful afterwards. Those posts will get readers from outside the course, because the questions are general.

Marion’s blog ended in these words: “There are many unanswered questions about MOOCs especially in relation to the experience of participation. We hope our expert participants will gain a better insight into running a MOOC, build new networks an opportunity to reflect on their experiences. We will be giving them support in their roles with some online orientation sessions in Blackboard Collaborate.”

I have gained a better insight into running a MOOC. I am sure about this. Thanks to Marion about following me all the time and Jenny about your interest and help, and all others who participated in this journey.

The concept expert participant is very problematic and assisting teacher is not better. How about voluntary assistant? It could begin with voluntary because it tells about the nature of our work, we were not paid for participation. Assistant has a hierarchy which I don’t like but what concept could be a proper one? Tutor and mentor have certain definitions already. Resources? How does voluntary resource sound in British ears? Ridiculous or funny or?