This fall, in North America, a new open course is starting on open learning, the meaning of connection and in what ways is it really possible to engage in distributed learning at a distance.  There have been disparaging remarks at the degree to which innovation & learning is really possible at the scale that massive open courses have achieved. What’s innovative in the pedagogy that characterises learning patterns for at scale that are heavily “designed” and in so doing make the ad hoc small group discussion difficult if not impossible? More bluntly, how is video recorded lecturing to 100k learners an improvement in pedagogical practice?  The question raised is does scale prevent good pedagogical practice?

This is one of many questions I hope to explore with others in the upcoming Connected Courses learning event staring this September.

About longpd

I'm a senior scholar at Georgetown University, in CNDLS, a technologist and lapsed evolutionary biologist with an incandescent passion for new modes of seeing and learning.
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3 Responses to ConnectedCourses

  1. hrheingold says:

    Hello and welcome aboard! (By what name do you want to be known here? I couldn’t immediately find your name on your site). I hope you have already seen that this isn’t really about video recorded lecturing to 100k learners (although there are plenty of videos on the syllabus), The videos and other texts are like magnetic or gravitational fields that draw us together around shared conversations, but the conversations via blogs and comments, twitter and Hangouts, are (IMO) far more important.

    I’m interested in evolutionary biology, in particular in relationship to the evolution of cooperation. You might be interested in the syllabus for a mini-course I teach online about introduction to cooperation theory and practice.

  2. Joe Murphy says:

    I think you’ve got a really intriguing question about learning activities at scale. Todd Zakrajsek is fond of saying that “the person who does the work does the learning.” Does meaningful work really scale well? (Well, the work might – but does the feedback, or the motivation to do the work in the first place?)

  3. longpd says:

    Hi Howard and Joe – I tried to fill out the form that had a place for a name, bio, etc., but I was using a tablet and managed somehow it got submitted before I was done. I have yet to see where I can edit that information (if there is a place you can point me to, let me know). You can call me Phil, btw. 😉

    I’m familiar with the cMOOC format as originally developed by Siemans, Downes, and Couros (among others), and the distinction between it and the more recent xMOOCs that have dominated the press attention. The scalability of MOOCs is of course the thing that is driving the question whether learning design patterns can be introduced in the structure of the learning environment to provide some of the capability that otherwise can arise by the collaborative social network of blogs, twitter and hangouts. Whether it’s possible to leverage design thinking and learning design patterns effectively to achieve some of the benefits of more expert human intensive ‘nodes’ in a social network of course remains to be seen.

    The evolution of cooperation is a fascinating topic. Beginning with the work of WD Hamilton and kinship theory, built on the work of John Maynard Smith, GC Williams, and later Bob Trivers. I’ve looked at your syllabus and it’s good to see you’re building on Axelrod’s work. There’s a more there in your syllabus than I’ve had the opportunity to follow up, though my background is more on the biological side of things (having taught from E.O.Wilson’s seminal book Sociobiology). I’m eager to learn more about your perspective on this topic!


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