The Power of Community Open Online Courses

Monday, March 07, 2016 Comment Teacher speaking to teenagers who are all holding and looking at smartphones

When MOOCs came along, and were swiftly adopted as the latest venture-funded startup fad, many who didn’t receive so much publicity back then started thinking of possibilities other than massive courses or strictly commercial open courses. Peter Shukie, lecturer at Community College, Blackburn, UK, and doctoral student at Lancaster University, started experimenting with “COOCs” — Community Open Online Courses. “The idea came from my experiences in adult literacy and community education, especially around students and teachers who seemed to be excluded — while at the same time being courted — by moves toward a technology-inspired learning ecology. At the

What Failure? Supporting a Succeeding UC Online Course

Thursday, January 14, 2016 Comment UCSD webpage screenshot with students and professor in image

I’m certainly no starry-eyed uncritical worshipper of online learning. In fact, I have something of a reputation as a very frank critic, which was solidified with my book The War on Learning. This status as a skeptic is likely to be further reinforced with my new edited collection about “the MOOCs moment” that is slated to appear soon from the University of Chicago Press. So, it’s not surprising that I regularly get sent news items about bone-headed failures from people chortling about the obvious shortcomings of instructional technology in higher education. What has been disconcerting is

How Unplanned Learning Led to Online Book Group

Monday, January 11, 2016 Comment cluttered computer desk with headphones book soda

Learning by stumbling upon things — and cultivating the ability to recognize when you’ve stumbled onto something valuable — can be amplified manyfold if you regularly look where people in your personal learning network are pointing. Focused, systematic, pre-planned learning is still a powerful tool in the learning toolbox but, sometimes, you need to put yourself into the position of stumbling upon and dipping into learning that you had not planned. Autumm Caines, for example, participated in focused, systematic learning as a master’s student (now graduate) at Ohio State University and associate director of academic technology

Enhancing Connected, Distributed Learning

Thursday, August 13, 2015 Comment leuphana holding a large meeting in conference room

This is the last of the four-part series that draws from our experiences of completing a Mentored MOOC called “Managing the Arts” with the Goethe Institute at the Leuphana Digital School this spring. In the first part, I argued that distributed learning might conceptually help us better than connected learning, as it shows the seams, and promises not connectivity but consolidation as the role of technologies of online learning. My colleague Mariam Haydeyan detailed the idea of a distributed learner and her fragmented learning processes that become consolidated when we imagine the learner not just as an individual

The Power of Decentralization in the MOOC

Thursday, July 30, 2015 Comment old illustration of rhinoceros

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four blogs on digital technology. Nishant Shah’s Annotation: In the last entry, I had suggested that instead of connectedness, what we really need to think about, in connected and digital learning, is the idea of distributedness. I had argued that the role of technology in MOOC environments is that of consolidation, and it is the act of consolidation that allows for the distributedness of learners, teachers, and resources to be sustained. Building upon this conversation, my colleague Mariam Haydeyan at the Leuphana Digital School, uses the

Assessing, Measuring Connected Learning Outcomes

Monday, January 19, 2015 Comment jaimie hoffman quote open courses allow for important connections

Although the preponderance of publicity about Massive Open Online Courses has focused on well-funded enterprises such as Coursera and Udacity, and superstars of what is mostly an online version of a lecture course, such as Sebastian Thrun, those of us who have been excited about the potential of MOOCs for a more student-centric, discursive, networked, peer-driven kind of course look to pioneers such as Jim Groom, Jonathan Worth, Anne Balsamo, Michael Wesch and Gardner Campbell. These pioneers don’t have the mainstream fame that the venture-backed edupreneurs have attracted, but educators in the thick of connected learning,

Educating Educators: Q&A With Connected Learning Advocate Kira Baker-Doyle

Thursday, November 27, 2014 Comment kira baker boyle teaching 2 students in classroom

Kira J. Baker-Doyle, assistant professor of education at Arcadia University, and her colleagues designed Arcadia’s Connected Learning Certificate program so educators of all levels, from Kindergarten through graduate school, could build a network and teach and learn from each other. The program launched this fall and it’s driven by students who propose and select the content and topics of discussion. “The program embodies connected learning,” Baker-Doyle said. Connected learning is an educational approach designed for our ever-changing world. It leverages the advances of the digital age to make that dream a reality — connecting academics to

What We Miss by Comparing MOOCs to Traditional Classrooms

Monday, September 08, 2014 Comment wide shot of beautiful traditional library

“They hear a program about sea creatures, another about the North Pole. Werner’s favourite is one about light: eclipses and sundials, auroras and wavelengths. When they find it, Werner feels as if he has been launched into a different existence, a secret place where great discoveries are possible, where an orphan from a coal town can solve some vital mystery hidden in the physical world.”— Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See” (2014)  Perhaps imagining vivid worlds unlocked by new knowledge is a romantic notion or perhaps not. Movies and novels depict hallowed halls at Oxford,

Addressing “The War on Learning”

Thursday, July 17, 2014 Comment classroom presentation with presenter on War on Formal learning

I’m always interested in technology critics who are accomplished users of the tools they criticize. Elizabeth Losh, director of Academic Programs, Sixth College at UC San Diego, teaches digital rhetoric, digital journalism, and software studies, and she was one of the organizers of a MOOC, FemTechNet, so she is neither opposed to nor unfamiliar with the uses of digital media in education. Losh is concerned, however, about what she perceives as an attack by educators on the kinds of informal learning young people engage in today — and an attack by education reformers on the human

Phonar: A Massive, Free, Open Photography Class

Thursday, January 23, 2014 Comment phonar class students working on photo project on computers

When asked to explain his attitude toward arts education, British photographer Jonathan Worth describes what he is teaching as “storytelling” that should be an integral part of everyone’s “digital literacy and digital citizenship” rather than a rarified artistic skill for niche training of a cadre of aesthetic elites.  Worth is currently the instructor of Phonar, the sprawling massive, free, and open undergraduate photography course that he teaches to as many as 30,000 participants at one time. Worth’s initiative was one of five recognized recently for outstanding innovation in the international Reclaim Open Learning Challenge and Symposium.