30 April 2014

Big and little questions for #ocTEL

So far I’ve participated in three MOOCs, with varying degrees of success. This is my fourth. All of them have been on some aspect of learning in the digital age. How do people learn in the digital age? How do they want to learn? How can we help them?

It seems that the people who are most successful in MOOCs, or in any inquiry-based online course, are those who are already skilled in the practice of self-directed learning, or heutagogy. For example, I was one of eventually 1616 participants in PLENK10 and the breakdown of our ages looked like this.

(Kop, 2011, p. 26)

Less than 15% under the age of 30, and most of those over 25. What about undergraduates? A large proportion of the undergraduates in my university, and in many others, are skilled in the use of digital technology and social media for social purposes but not for learning. It is not enough.
Our digital native students may be able to use technologies, but that does not mean they can learn from them. Being able to read and write never meant you could therefore learn from books (Laurillard, 2013, p. xvii).

Many of the academic staff I work with in the course of my job are skilled in using digital technology to create opportunities for students to drive their own learning. But their students ask for help. So perhaps I have two related questions to explore in this course:

  1. (With apologies to Bain (2004), how can we help our students to develop the habits of heart and mind which will enable them to become autonomous learners online?
  2. How far can heutagogy work in practice? As Plato wrote
But how will you look for something when you don’t in the least know what it is? How on earth are you going to set up something you don’t know as the object of your search? To put it another way, even if you come right up against it, how will you know that what you have found is the thing that you didn’t know? (Plato, 1961, 80.d).

There can be no definitive answer to either of these questions, but every MOOC I have taken has been a living thing that has grown and evolved in its own way. There’s always something to learn.

Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Harvard University Press.

Kop, R. (2011). The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: Learning experiences during a massive open online course. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/882

Laurillard, D. (2013). Foreword to the second edition. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds.), Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing for 21st century learning (2nd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Plato. (1961). Collected dialogs of Plato including the letters. (E. Hamilton & H. Cairns, Eds.). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1643/1643-h/1643-h.htm

Hello blog, we haven't seen each other in a while

I started this blog some years ago as a place to save all those things I wanted to share with my colleagues. I'm an academic advisor in the Centre for Learning and Teaching at AUT University, and it's my job to work with lecturers to integrate digital technology into their teaching. Of course there's a lot more to it than that, but I often used to find a useful site and send the link to someone, only to get an email months later asking for it again - long after I'd forgotten what it was. Now there are so many better ways of doing this, it's time to repurpose this blog.

I've signed up for #ocTEL, ALT's second MOOC on Technology Enhanced Leaning, so this is where I will be posting my reflections. My Twitter name is @jswann and my website is called dialogic inquiry. Looking forward to meeting you in the course!