Saturday, February 23, 2013

EDCMOOC - My Digital Artefact: The Human Revolution

For the last 4 weeks, I was immersed in an online course titled "Elearning and Digital Cultures" #edcmooc .With more than 40,000 students from all over the globe and 5 amazing professors from the University of Edinburgh,(Jeremy Knox, Si├ón Bayne, Hamish Macleod, Jen Ross and Christine Sinclair) it was indeed a massive online learning movement!

This is a digital artefact that I have created as a part of my submission for the EDCMOOC course on Coursera. Hope you enjoy it! Comments and feedback are welcome.

PS: A more reflective post on my experience with #edcmooc and MOOCs in general will be coming soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Learning Metaphors and MOOCs

The use of metaphors is an intriguing concept. Metaphors have the power to transform the way we think and the way we respond. As a part of our week 2 reading for Coursera's Elearning and Digital Cultures Course (#edcmooc), we were to reflect on the metaphors of the future in digital culture and in online education.
I recently read an article titled, "On two metaphors of learning and the dangers of choosing just one" by Anna Sfard. Anna shares that there are predominantly two metaphors that are used to describe learning: The Acquisition Metaphor (AM) and the Participation Metaphor (PM).
While the names are quite indicative of the type of learning process being highlighted, to clarify, AM describes the model that believes knowledge is a commodity that can be acquired and therefore applied. This ties in very well to all the cognitive theories of learning led by Pieget, Vygotsky etc.
PM indicates that learner participates in the process of learning instead of acquiring knowledge. So, learning is seen as a process of becoming a part of the 'whole. In this case, the 'whole' is the community in which the learner participates in.
While AM focuses on 'knowing', PM focuses on 'doing'. Perhaps, I am over simplifying the article, but I think these metaphors are a great way to look at the past and the future of all learning. While our past focused on AM, our future learning decisions are more PM. These metaphors resonated well with my own frameworks for learning design as I have seen them evolve over the last 14 years.
However, as the author correctly points out, you can't choose one over the other since all learning environments will have both the components - acquisition and participation. I believe that design for learning can begin with one metaphor as a core guiding principle.
In this context, for me, MOOCs fit well with the participation metaphor. The MOOC platform reflects a more democratic way of learning, open, scalable and where essentially the learner is a participant in the creation of knowledge. MOOCs allow for collaboration and social connections in the context of learning. However, I don’t deny that the ‘structure’ and ‘instruction’ in the acquisition metaphor is an essential component of the MOOC environment specially as a critical factor for success. But more about MOOCs in another thread.
You can read the complete article here: This article is an extended version of an invited lecture given at the Eighth International Congress of Mathematics Education in Seville, Spain, in Iuly 1996.