Diversity in open online courses

I can’t stop thinking about online communities or courses, I need to analyze happenings in order to understand what my opinions are. I have many threads to this post. Yesterday Chris tweeted this picture . I noticed it is in Flickr and we have a group there, I had joined it earlier and forgot it. Now I can link the picture here. Ian Woods has done it and explains it more in his blog.

I have been pondering the hierarchies in online participation. I have tried to understand diversity of expertise. Ian speaks about the expertise to participate in PLENK and describes the situation of newbies. I have pondered possible influences of background expertise, what do we bring to the course, what we have especially to give. I have a simple picture about it:

expertonlineMember profiles in PLENK tell that most participants have high skills in ICT and some are professional experts in it. Most participants have educational professions or -how I call it – human science expertise. My third case “no expertise” is hypothetical, everybody in PLENK has some expertise background. I just wanted to illustrate that you could participate without any expertise and learn new digital skills. I know some guys who follow internet .. web .. blogoshere and they are respected because they can drop others the newest hints. They sometimes call themselves as parasites – I have named this “copy-paste” expertise. Is this behavior the purpose (excellent) or false (do not know one’s borders).

The most common story in PLENK seems to be that teachers, educators or lecturers learn new technologies to use. We  train communication skills, writing, thinking, using web tools and creative thinking. Simultaneously we have technological nerds who give us hints and help to prove new tricks. This is normal networking, concrete questions can be answered. I learn something new tools in every course.

Ian Wood describes well the situation from newbies’ point of view. It is tough to manage one’s time and follow the flow of many discussions and themes. You have to learn to use PLE, it cannot be clear from the beginning.  Organizing mentoring sounds good, or is it better to continue spontaneous mentoring, I am not sure.

Now I should combine my pondering with the scientific knowledge Kraut gave. I participate in open online courses because my self-concept tells me I am that particular type of person. I want to be part of something bigger, I want to live in global world. I am interested in human learning and development – what happens in web world? I have to experience it myself, it cannot be read from books. I emphasize community, what it stands for. If the direction is right in my eyes, I can commit to it instantaneously. I am inspired through my identity, I have identity-based commitment to open courses. I have found like-minded people in CCK courses.

How about you?

5 thoughts on “Diversity in open online courses

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Cant stop wondering about: Diversity+in+open+online+courses via Please help me #PLENK2010 -- Topsy.com

  2. Thanks for the mention Heli. I’m a bit vague on your ‘false’ classification. I think I understand ‘excellent’, but I was struggling to think of a situation (beyond deliberate intent) where someone’s contribution would have anything less then no positive impact.
    By which I mean that; somebody could contribute some information (new or regurgitated) to a PLN and it may have no impact (not saying anything that everybody else already knew – although I think that unlikely) or some positive impact (everyone else learns).
    Even if the information was completely false and misleading, I think the chances that all the other members of the PLN took as read and didn’t question it would be zero.
    Having said that, I completely understand that maybe I’ve just not unsderstood your point.
    p.s. I like your diagram. Can I ask what you used to create it? I started off trying to use the Word smart charts? but gave up in favour of the simple drawing tools. Not entirely happy with the result though, so looking for a better tool.

  3. Hi Heli,
    Well said, you are not alone in this quest for more scientifically based knowledge, rather than opinionated beliefs only.
    “They sometimes call themselves as parasites – I have named this “copy-paste” expertise.” Do you mean some of the lurkers? Or those legitimate peripheral participants who may live with others’ posts (forum and blog) and just echo with paraphrasing?
    It’s quite a challenge for newbies as mentioned by Ian, especially when first exposed to a MOOC. Even now, I don’t think I have developed that thorough understanding about newbies or advanced ones in MOOC, as I don’t have chances that knowing them, at least not much connections.
    Relating to mentoring, I think this is a big topic, and the word mentor might sound “superior” to some others who are new to the learning environment. What do you think about e-mentoring? Will it work (in an informal setting like PLENK)?

    There is a need to immerse oneself in the networks, to understand the human learning and development through experiencing it, as you mentioned. Would the challenge be? Like minded people are often the most precious ones in the network and most difficult to find? Are such connections sustainable? How?

    So, I enjoyed reading your post. Good that we are still kept in touch even after the PLENK.


  4. Hi Ian and Sui Fai John,
    you both asked about my “no expertise, only good at following and participating in the web world”. I was thinking some guys in Real Life, not at all PLENK. It has been possible to build up a career using this way. They know more than others, they visit some conferences in USA and then tell others (in Finland) what is going on. This is real expertise but in which area, I can’t name it. The problem arises when they speak about learning, without knowing any knowledge, only their own experiences. This bothers me, why?

    To John: eMentoring works, I have done it many years and enjoyed!

    Ian: the diagram is made by using PowerPoint and saved as jpg image – it is very easy and I am lazy or not at all technologically skillful

  5. Pingback: #PLENK2010 Personal Learning Networks and Legitimate Peripheral Participation | Suifaijohnmak's Weblog

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