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
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 …