I am participating in another mooc – an edX mooc out of the University of Texas, Arlington on the subject of data, analytics, and learning. A bit of craziness given my current schedule but one that I feel warrants my time and attention.
Why add in #DALMOOC?
Well, the answer is that both the content and the process beckon. The instructional/hosting lead is George Siemens who, with an impressive team (Carolyn Rose, Dragan Gasevic & Ryan Baker), is pioneering a dual-layer (meaning combination of x & c mooc) approach. Siemens and company are being intentionally transparent regarding the instructional design process.
The dilemma of providing enough structure to prove functional for all and enough flexibility to invite personal exploration and ownership of one’s learning is a continual challenge. I am fascinated to participate in a course that is adopting a process which tries to address this issue.
My response to the need for flexibility has pretty steadfastly been one of offering/expecting learners to engage and make informed choices on what works for them and how they will demonstrate/document/share their learning. Unfortunately this is not a common or popular view because it is often interpreted as placing unreasonable expectations on instructors and makes giving appropriate feedback challenging at best and onerous or impossible at worst. This is because both student and instructor are expecting that the instructor is “all-knowing” to a standard that is nearly impossible to meet.
We need a rethink.
Instructors should be familiar, interested and engaged with subject matter to the extent that they have well-developed navigational tools allowing them to assist students in finding resources and sources of feedback and further engagement. Ideally instructors are knowledgeable guides and active co-learners. I like the analogy of an experienced mountain guide who cannot control the weather, the fitness level of the participants, or the flora and fauna but is there to assist, point out areas of interest, influence the sequencing of events, offer new relevant information, look out for the group’s safety and be the lead responder if an emergency should crop up. Guides do not control. Too much of our educational system is based on control; instructors wanting to control or thinking they need to control, and students (or student’s parents or institutional administrations) expecting instructors to control.
So, I am keen to witness and experience the dual-layer learning process being pioneered in DALMOOC with the added BIG bonus of gaining insight and skills in the area of data, analytics and learning! . . . more to follow