Learnt in open online courses

I tried to describe my phases (of learning, participating) during last years. Here is my diagram about the most important factors or steps I have made while participating.


I leave the Critical Literacies course outside because I consider it different from these three general courses. I want to assess CritLit separately.

First I had to learn to participate using English and win my shyness. Self confidence is necessary in some amount, I had to build it up and find my knowledge again. I had to get some bonds with participants. It happened after CCK08.

During PLENK2010 I recognized some contributions I could offer for the community, not only my own friends. So this is a description about my growth to a networker (one who has capacity to participate in networking environments). And after writing this here, all seems Very Obvious. Why should I do this? What is my next step?

I could continue this analysis by checking what I have said at the end of each course in this blog: does it match with this? I could find some emotional states according to each phase. I was an autonomous learner and expert in learning issues before participating these courses, but you have to build up the autonomy in new contexts. And I did it, I am proud of it.

But my main question is still about my expertise: what has happened in it? Has it broadened? I suppose it is not deeper in any area than it was in the year 2008. I have learned to use new tools, it is so obvious that I did not mention it, but so what?  How do they help me in my work? What is learning actually? What can be found beyond technology driven development? I learned a new concept yesterday when Teemu Leinonen had his doctoral dissertation: we need informative guessing. This blog is full of my guessings 🙂

About learning in virtual networks

I’ve found some excellent summaries concerning CCK courses, interesting people which I didn’t meet while studies – so I am wondering  how much I have missed of all the possibilities. Fortunately I may still continue my studies about learning.

It was Ignatia who analyzed the CCK09 course in a manner that I admire and enjoy. Some copies about her text:

It is interdisciplinary, as a learner from whatever background or specialty, you can take the content and fit it to your own needs or experiences. So it builds on what we know, and adding to it, this is still a great added learning value.

Conversation and narration is at the center of it, making room for very human and natural learning to occur.

George and Stephen are the content/course facilitators, idea enablers. They are not the center of the action; instead they offer a knowledge playground. They put forward the central ideas which they think will help the learners to deepen their and each others knowledge.

To her connectivism is very natural organic learning. It brings us back to the open and active baby stage of learning. – This was interesting because it was my first thought in autumn 2008 – are we speaking about incidental learning? Perhaps we are, perhaps it is needed in open virtual networks. So many thanks to Ignatia and Andy who tweeted the link with hashtag CCK09.

I also appreciate Andy’s blog. His post about visitors and residents reminds my own but he can say things more clearly. Then Dr Smetty tweeted about her blog including podcasts with two gentlemen, Erwin and Wilfred. I really enjoyed listening to their discussions and learnt a lot. I had moments of learning, for instance  when Wilfred said that you have to follow more, about a hundred blogs more, in order to succeed in finding all essential new trends. All other people (me too) we pondering  how to filter and select the sources but Wilfred said on the contrary: you need more. Perhaps this is what Stephen Downes has said all the time but I didn’t believe it at all. Now I heard it when those three participants discussed with each other. Every important thought will repeat in posts or tweets, if you miss it it will come again, be ready to pattern recognition. Now I heard this and I believe that this is one side of learning in virtual networks.

The CCK course was short, three months is not enough for us who are not native English speakers. The paradigm of openness versus a curriculum course was the other problem. Many people who didn’t know each other in the beginning – and even in the end of the course as you can see in this blog post – all takes time. It was not simple to guide oneself through the course and we have feelings of missing. That is all normal in virtual networks but frustrating too.

I have to decide which blogs I select to my blogroll “Following” , I have collected CCK08-09 friends to the page you see.

CCK09 – my view of the process of learning

I published my final project a year ago (see December 2008) and answered the questions. Now I am going to ponder my view of learning, what am I thinking just now and if I can see any new influences during this autumn?

The most influential source to me was the visitor vs resident -description and the Elluminate with David White from Oxford. I have waited for serious research to understand what’s happening. It was useful to recognize my perspective which guides my learning. Many brilliant learners are very selective in their net use, it was good to hear. Connectivism describes mostly positive sides but participating is connected with negative factors, too.

Skill are nondigital, I have written down from David White, skills are applied in a digital space. This is a key to understand my project ponderings a year ago. I have developed my concepts about learning many decades and I can say that “I know everything about learning”. I contextualise new knowledge with many old theories: learning by doing, experiental learning, activity theory and so on. When I do this I have to think that connectivism deals only with some parts of learning and tells us what is already known in psychology.

Learning is not only fast running forwards (experimentation, doing, action) it is thinking, conceptualizing and theory buildind and takes time. It was Francis Heylighen from Freie Universitet Brussels who helped me in this, I found serious research what to follow. It was the week about chaos and complex, I hadn’t find the source without CCK09.

Do we need a new theory about learning in a digital age? I am not sure anymore, but we need knowledge about learning in all ages and contexts. New phenomena must be experienced, not only read from a book (for instance how to use twitter) – but experience itself is not enough. It must be analysed.

I am glad about the research CCK08 course participants have produced, I appreciate Jenny, John and Roy and others. It was fine to have an Elluminate session about new research ideas, thanks to Frances. I enjoy my first clumsy voicethread and Roy’s comment. Thanks to Gus who guided to try voicethread. I have promised to continue my way by writing a narrative story about living in networks. I know that human attributes must be there: trust, respect, empowerment. It cannot be only objective information change between blind unknown people.. it is about motivation and culture as David White said. Human values must be included, connections are nothing without them?

To CCK09 course and facilitators I want to say with song words:

you raise me up so I can stand on mountains
you raise me up to more I can be

We had in Finnish Talent competition our own “Susan Boyle”, a man who sang this to our hearts.

Elluminate 25.11.09

I enjoyed greatly to participate in CCK-Ellumination about our own research ideas. Here comes my slide – Leila was so kind and told about this in twitter already and I noticed that I have to put it here :).


I also found blogs of other participants and added to my blogrol CCK08-09 if they weren’t already there.

Net pedagogy

We had a conference week about net pedagogy in CCK09 and I will gather my thoughts if I have any -actually I try to find my new thoughts by writing this post. We had six sessions in our program (Manitoba University), I participated three and listened to others. I must be well up-to-date 🙂 about global net pedagogy developmental trends after this participation. Where to begin?

Frances Bell’s session was great because her preach- and- practice were in a good balance. She had a short introduction and we all participated by answering questions. She really listened and was interested about our answers both in the board and in the chat. The climate was friendly and warm, we collaborated basic questions. That’s why I got some ideas myself.

In other sessions I received much information via lectures, mainly by listening to the presentations. I had not earlier asked about abundance vs scarcity in pedagogy and I am not sure should I.. The learner has always abundance of challenges in front of oneself. The learner has to make decisions and put things in some order. It was Martin Weller who gave this theme to us.

Stephen’s first lecture was about all the open systems in the world. It is good to know them, I didn’t know all – now I have a summary. It is useful. Terry Anderson’s presentation was a good summary about open education in Canada. I had read his book about the new theory of online learning and could partly follow the quick presentation about it. I will continue studying his book because I have the opportunity to meet him again next Friday in another session.

Vicki Davis described and demonstrated many ideas she has  implemented with her pupils and internationally. She has a blog named coolcatteacher – I have followed it and linked to it in my Finnish blog. Excellent work, I enjoyed listening but she was so quick that I must listen again to understand all. The pictures were great and helped following. It is easy to agree with the main principles although I am working with adult students. Vicki is so experienced that she can differentiate between important and less important issues. It takes time to separate them. It was nice to get appreciation to Finland via OECD and PISA.

Stephen’s other lecture about LOLcats etc was confusing and hard to follow in my mind. I suppose that he wants to show us how restricted people we are – that we should live more open-minded and ask NEW questions all the time. He believes that our world has totally changed because of internet and mobiles and so on. He want to deal with all human knowledge and put in a new suitable order. He hates defining but he does it and uses mainly words, with a picture about network structure. It is not an easy job he wants to do. I feel empathy but I do not trust him and I cannot say why not.

Thanks for this CCK09 week and the opportunities to check the limits of my knowing. I visit our Moodle, too but I haven’t written there. I am visitor – nothing touches me there. I don’t like Daily any more, it is better to check recent posts from Moodle and Twitter –  why to put them in Daily? But many people like Daily and it is not a problem – receive or not to receive.

Resident and visitor

I greatly enjoy the definings of residents or visitors in the web, given by TALL blog (Online education with the University of Oxford). It is not about academic or technological skills, it is about culture and motivation. I am not a digital native, I am an immigrant but I love the openness of web culture and I am motivated to participate online. I am an online teacher with no classroom teaching. So, am I a resident in the web?

The resident is an individual who lives a part of her life online. The web supports the projection of her identity and facilitates relationships. She has an persona online which she regularly maintains. This persona is normally primarily in a social networking sites but it is also likely to be in evidence in blogs or comments, via image sharing services etc   She will  use the web to socialise and to express herself. She is likely to see the web as a worthwhile place to put forward an opinion. In fact the resident considers that a certain portion of their social life is lived out online. The web has become a crucial aspect of how to present oneself and how to remain part of networks of friends or colleagues.

The Visitor is an individual who uses the web as a tool in an organised manner whenever the need arises. They may research a specific subject. They may choose to use a voice chat tool if they have friends or family abroad.  They always have an appropriate and focused need to use the web but don’t ‘reside’ there. They are sceptical of services that offer them the ability to put their identity online as don’t feel the need to express themselves by participating in online culture in the same manner as a Resident.

I am definitely a resident in my professional life as a teacher and developer. I have a permanent blog in Finnish and a network around it. I participate in Finnish networks of social media and follow happenings also globally. I have an identity as an online teacher, it is a part of me. But I am not a resident in my private life, I only follow my daughter and her friends in FB but I don’t tell about myself there. I recieved some congratulations on my birthday, it was nice of course.

I am open in professional questions, I allow others to learn about my mistakes and I don’t worry about criticism. It is voluntary to read my blog. I have no spam or nuisance in Finnish, we have a language  that nobody can follow 😉 My teaching materials are open to colleagues but the learning environment of my institute is closed, I cannot change it. My blog is open and I have nothing against open teaching. Freedom is important to me, I hate schedules and orders..

I am a visitor in Twitter , I haven’t found my role there, only follow CCK09 via Google Reader. I am a visitor in FB, I like to see videos that my networked colleagues put there but I am not active myself. I have goals and I select my tools, I do not live in the web all the time. My focus is in learning and educational culture, not in technology.

Transparency is related to openness. Openness is most often related to content. Transparency involves making our learning explicit through forums, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and videos. Throughout CCK09, George Siemens made the statement that “when you are transparent in your learning, you are teaching others”. He continues: Most people, however, are uncomfortable taking the risk of posting half-baked ideas publicly. Trust and personal sense of security is important for learners. Learning is an act of vulnerability.

Yes it is, I could say. When I began blogging two years ago I was vulnerable and I had stopped if I got strong critique but I recieved positive comments and continued. Now I do not bother myself with this vulnerability question, I analyse happenings and ask feedback if I need. Sometimes I ponder why it is so hard to build connections in for instance CCK09? All my friends are from CCK08 or real life, only Frances that I began to follow this year and some outside the course but links found there. This is normal network life, isn’t it?

Power and authority

I continue my studies in CCK09 week 7. Power is always an interesting theme. I liked the papers given to us:

  • W.H. Dutton: Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate
  • Network Logic: who governs in an interconnected world? edited by McCarthy, Miller and Skidmore.

I printed two papers dealing with teachers work: Ann Lieberman and Diane Wood (National Writing Project, USA) and Hargreaves answer to them. Actors are always enthusiastic about the development they feel and see around – and the researcher proves that nothing is sure.  We don’t know the cause-and-effect threads. – Nice to read but very common if you have done the same last 20 years.

Then I read Howard Rheingold’s Smart mobs. He describes  Netwar – and sees both Bark and Light in it. We hope that ‘good guys’ will lead the new forms of organisation but there is no guarantee about this. It’s important to follow discussions about swarm intelligence and the social mind. Global brain? Smart mobs are unpredictable and for instance I have learnt to be worried about this, new technology is not in the best hands of human mankind.

Manuel Castells  Afterword, why networks matter concludes the book. Castells believes in networks, I could say, in an astonishing way. Networks have developed because technology enables it and we live in a network society (not in an information society or knowledge society). Networks know no boundaries. The networking logic explains the features of the process of globalisation. Sociability is transformed in the new historical context: human need and desire for sharing and co-experiencing influences it. Societies exist as social forms of shared experience.

World is changing and nobody can tell us the focus. I appreciate Rheingold and Castells but they are not my gods 🙂 We can see that technology gives us new devices and media tries to update itself, and networks have taken power (I am not sure about this). We need values not only new social media. I want to belong to Global Dignity movement, they have the dream I want to believe and work for better world for all humans. There is no simple way to take the power and leave all authorities behind, it is hard and permanent daily work and living with dignifying attitudes to other human beings.

Complex and open – simple and secret?

Now I am enjoying some papers guided by CCK09 week 6 Complex adaptive systems. I found the wonderful sites of  SantaFe Institute, really easy and motivating to use. They will be my favourite sites…

Another source worth of reading in my opinion is Francis Heylighen, Free University of Brussels. He deals with complexity and information overload in society: why increasing efficiency leads to decreasing control. It is possible to predict causal effects but not human behavior. The amount of information in society and the speed followed by open publications increase and we get data smog that covers real knowledge. We have tools to organise flows of informations but here is again the overload, the overload of opportunities. I don’t know how to find any valuable from my Google Reader or iGoogle or Twitter, but I find a lot of data smog all the time.

It is a paradox that the only way to use complex and open systems is to make them more simple and restricted. So I build a system of  ‘people I can trust’ in my mind and choose what and whom  to follow. But if I have never time to read or think I can follow many wrong prophets. One of the problems is that those who know only technology have a strong voice in social media and others can follow them quite blindly. This is a bubble of social media that is good to see, I opened my eyes while participating in a discussion in Finnish last week. Young guys take the power with poor understanding of substance things, they have done it some years because it seems normal to other participants. This means losing control and unpredictable influences. There is no friction in tweets, nuisance is open to everybody so let’s use it to be postmodern up-to-date people  🙂

To understand developmental dialectics is needed again: every property and opportunity turns to its opposite and you should be careful and open all the time ,which is impossible. Thanks to F. Heylighen who deepened my thinking and gave me devices to see what’s happening. And thanks to open CCK09 which seem to be an excellent orienting course (source?) to knowledge and connections needed to .. what? to live and learn and participate today.

CCK09 – Tom Haskins helps me

Last week I was not so much interested in themes given (groups and networks), I feel that I have nothing to learn from our course, the situation there is all the same than a year ago. So I had time to reflect the situation in the course, what is happening. I prefer my blog and clarify the mess in my brain here, not disturb others with sharing it. They, who are interesting in my thought follow this and I appreciate them greatly.

My intention was to tell about an important help I got last week. Google Alert gave me Tom Haskins question about CCK09 connection problems. That’s what I have lived through, I fail to find or recieve  the ‘great new idea’ offered to us. There are many ways to interpret this as Tom says. I don’t know yet what my answer will be. I do not believe that neuroscience is a solution of learning sciences’ open questions. It is only part of it.

Pondering on the far out idea also resonates my thinking. It is true that nobody can see the new learning theory needed to intepret new learning possibilities around us. Is it a theory what is needed or a new frame or ..? I saw West Side Story in TV (in Finland) yesterday and I had no problems in enjoying it. After the movie there was a programme of Bernstein and Kiri Te Kanava and Jose Carreras and the orchestra and I admired their great expertice. Fifty years ago and now: people are still people. – Is it worth a new theory if we nowadays listen only 5 minutes videos and follow fragments .. develop excellent vehicles for rapid streams of whatever (nonsense).

Kuhn’s The Structure of scientific revolutions is in my mind, too. Do we really need a revolution of learning theories? And how to do it? I am interested in testing new ways to learn and I appreciate CCK courses because practice is the needed prove, a natural experiment. Continuous follow-up about our reflections is necessary. Or is connectivism a movement for better open world and  we can find each other in CCK courses. So every new network connection is result and we don’t need any else evidences.

Dilemma is an interesting psychological concept, Tom wrote about it already and there is a comment of cognitive therapy. And then forward to different process connections… now I have found a blog to follow –  thanks to CCK09 tag.

CCK09 – new headings?

We are studying groups and networks and I am wondering why just  these concepts. Stephen’s image shows that groups are bad and networks are good and up-to-date.  I can follow the purpose and understand the differences, but I totally disagree with using group in this connection. I am searching  new headings for the description:

  • Institution  versus Open virtual community
  • Energy diminishing versus Energy fostering culture
  • Restriction versus Empowerment
  • Normal and realistic versus Ideal world 😉

Groupthink means thinking in same way and stopping critics, but the group as such can be whatever. It is good to remember groupthink in order to avoid it. You have to allow diversity, autonomy, openness and distributed democracy for this purpose. Perhaps Stephen means just this: if the left heading were groupthink I could follow it.

But anyway I miss something about energy or empowerment to the right side: knowledge emerges in open, supportive, respective culture. I use Stephen’s Seven Habits as learning material. Is there something about energy? Flow? But who are highly connected people? They must have all those seven attributes and … what else?

How about groupthink in CCK09 – can we see it somewhere?