Monday, November 10, 2014

Active Co-Learning

I took a small hiatus from Connected Courses in the last module because everything sort of piled on at the same time and  I had little space to breathe.  Yes, I've been dalmoocing, so I guess everything is a choice ;-).  I guess that was my jump-out week of connected courses, and now I am dipping in again. I love the language of cMOOCs ;-)  The truth is that I've felt a little fatigued with #ccourses.  I am not sure if it's the length, or the time I've been engaged with it (7 weeks if you consider the pre-course and that's before we got to Diversity, Equity, and Access), so I guess I needed a little mental break.  I don't think this is an issue unique to MOOCs because I've been feeling a mild case of senioritis in my first EdD course. Luckily I've done all of my deliverables, submitted them, and have gotten feedback, so now I am participating with my peers and engaging in the participation aspect of the course.

Anyway, these next two weeks are about Co-Learning in #ccourses and worlds have collided!  Connected courses has collided with my EdD course to produce a thinking storm (in my head). I am not going to talk a lot about the resources shared this week (oddly enough I have shared some of these with my own class in the past!), but I wanted to talk a bit about my little connected moment.

So, as we are discussing LMS mining and learning analytics in EDDE 801 one of my classmates mentions that he sees learning as something social. I don't know if he is also on #ccourses or if this is a happy coincidence, but this got me thinking.  I think that learning can be social, and many types of successful learning can be social, but learning is not exclusively social.  For instance, I can sit down with a book, or some MOOC videos, and read or view them.  If I am paying attention and the material is at my level then chances are that I will learn something.  That said, I don't think that all learning works this way.  I do think that in many cases learning is social.  The construct that comes to mind is Vygotsky's More Knowledgeable Other. 

If we are all in a group, let's say in #ccourses, and we are all tackling the topic of this module (co-learning), I would say that we don't all come to the learning environment with the same background, know-how, and knowledge.  We may have some similar experience and background, but the specifics matter.  Thus, as we are learning together I may be able to teach someone a small nugget of knowledge (or know-how) or vice versa. The teaching aspect may not be reciprocal between any two given interlocutors, but it doesn't have to be.  This is when the community comes in. If we are all members of a community and we get each other's daily posts, tweets, delicious links (that relate to this course), then we are partly learning from other's contributions, even if they don't directly learn something from our contributions.  Thus, the act of co-learning is also an act of teaching, at least as defined by Wiley (in the TEDx video this week) when he defines Education as a relationship of sharing. A successful educator, according to Wiley, is someone who shares fully with their students.  In a co-learning environment we are all learners and we are all educators. 

 So, here is a question that popped up while I was pondering this: what is the difference between an "aha" moment when you are by yourself (reading a book, or watching a MOOC video) and "learning" in a social environment?


SIDENOTES:
  • Even though I sat out the module on Diversity, Equity, and Access, I think that the videos on Feminism, Technology and Race; and wikistorming, are interesting to watch and think about. If you haven't watched them, I encourage you to do so :)
  • This week Alec Couros asked "what endures" when thinking about technologies.  The answer was that technologies come and go, but it is the social connections that endure (thus, I would paraphrase this as reach out and talk to someone in your social network, don't just consume).  This is quite true.  Remind me one of these days to expand upon this and Elliniko Kafeneio ;-)
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