Goals and Expectations (Finally!) for #change11

OK, so here we are into Week 3 of the of the #Change11 MOOC, and I am finally ready to articulate my own personal goals and expectations for the course. Unlike most courses, there are no stated objectives or expectations for a MOOC. As I quoted from the MOOC Model document in my post Clarification on the question,“What is a MOOC?”, “MOOCs build on the engagement of learners who self-organize their participation according to learning goals,prior knowledge and skills,and common interests.” In other words, I need to set my own objectives and expectations for this year-long course.

While I work professionally as an Instructional Design Project Manager, clarifying learning needs and then building objectives to meet them is something I frequently engage with. However, this is flipped on its head when we establish our own goals for our learning.

Perhaps, however, this is really not that unusual. Consider this–even when we attend traditional courses that have clearly defined learning objectives, we have to remember that those are the goals of the teacher, facilitator, or program–they are not necessarily the goals of the learners themselves. Course goals are not always agreed with or understood in the same way by learners as they are by those facilitating the course. Without dialogue and agreement about this at the very beginning, it is challenging indeed for all participants to move toward the same goals (as nobody has the same goals). Let me state this even more strongly–without discussion and individual agreement–all learners in a course work toward different, and often unstated, goals for the course. 

This is one of the refreshing things that this MOOC has done–it has empowered attendees (learners) to articulate and state their own goals for the course. With this stated, these are my #change11 goals and expectations. By the end of the #change11 MOOC, I will be able to:

  1. Assess the impact and influence of this global, unstructured learning on my PhD Research
  2. Practice an openness to diverse perspectives on learning
  3. Revise my network to be wider and more inclusive

Now that I have stated these three objectives, I feel I am actually starting to expand my learning and practice. What better way to do so than by formulating, and then publicly sharing, these goals for the course?

Networked Learning Conference “Hot Seats” Now Open

The Hot Seats, an informal and free series of online discussions by international researchers in the area of networked learning, are about to begin in the Hot Seats Ning page. This is a lead-in to the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning, scheduled for Maastricht in April 2012.

What is networked learning? According the call for papers (which are due in about two weeks), networked learning is:

learning and teaching carried out largely via the Internet/Web which emphasises dialogical learning, collaborative and cooperative learning, group work, interaction with on-line materials, knowledge production and design for learning

Participation in these online discussions, based around the research of a number of very interesting scholars and led by the authors themselves, is open to anybody; conference registration is not required.

While this is more focused than the #change11 MOOC that is stretching over the same period, there may be an interesting overlap between participants in both online learning events.

Privacy and Research Issues in the #change11 MOOC

I am participating in the #change11 MOOC (massive open online class) as I mentioned last week, and while I am still not sure what sort of time or resource commitment this will mean for me in practice, I think it may have some potential usefulness for my doctoral research.

With this stated, I am very interested in how the facilitators of the course will use the information provided, so was happy to read the posting of privacy information that was shared with participants. Good for them to discuss this all so openly at the beginning of the course.

If I am reading this correctly, the researchers who are facilitating this course state that anything publicly shared that is related with the course (most readily identifiable by the #change11 tag), can be used for research purposes. This seems consistent with the current (though somewhat dated and in the process of revision) Association of Internet Researchers guideline for ethical researcher and participant consent – Ethical decision-making and Internet research: Recommendations from the aoir ethics working committee document.

I am wondering what sorts of ethical issues around consent or identification may surface in this, especially given the enormous data set that is being created related to this course? For example, I published this posting (anybody can see it), it is tagged with the course (#change11), and is identifiable (my name and picture are on this site). Does that mean the researchers can quote me or otherwise identify my if they want to in their research around the MOOC? Do they need my permission to quote me, given I am saying this publicly? Will I know this even happens? If I am stating all this publicly, is that my default consent? Is anything online really ever private?

These are not easily answered, and having engaged in Internet research myself I know that various ethical boards will interpret these questions in different ways, I do think it is valuable to ask them, especially as (I suspect) many participating in this course will not even consider them . . . until they get quoted or referred to, of course!

I Will Participate in #change11

Now that I have returned from #BERA2011 and the UK (I still have a lot to write about the conference, Stonehenge, Avebury, Montreal, and the like over the past week), I decided that it may be a great opportunity to decompress (or what-have-you) with George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier who are facilitating the Change: Education, Learning, and Technology! Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), affectionately known as #change11.

Yes, I have attended these sorts of massive courses (open to a variety of ideas on one hand while unfocused and hard to navigate as the Web itself on the other) before, though I think now I am in a somewhat different place. Yes, I am working full-time while also writing up my doctoral thesis, though what better way is there to decompress online while also being open to learning something new while in the middle of so many (and soon-to-be) friends?

Let the learning begin. Hmm, perhaps it already has?