Friday, September 30, 2011
Dave, George and Stephen have emphasized that one of the defining characteristics of a MOOC is the source of the goals. While the instructors/facilitators have a plan, (and personal goals) they do not determine the learning goals for the course. Each participant set her own goals. I think this is not just rhetoric. Not a variation on the "learner centered" model. MOOC and open learning in general has the potential to redefine what we mean by learning. I imagine that for some the goals may be clear cut from the start. For others they will emerge and morph. Like others, I am juggling many goals and all the possible content. Today I've decided that I will spend less time on instructor generated material and more on participant generated. I want to understand the connections, follow some ideas, see how others embrace/struggle with/modify/define the process. #change11
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Today my colleague Rick Oller posed a dichotomy (perhaps a spectrum) with draconian on one side and organic on the other. We were discussing the application of theory to instructional design. He likes to talk about determinism and its opposite so I took that to be the meaning of his use of draconian (deterministic) and organic (non deterministic). As I grapple with understanding and teaching about learning theory I look for ways to tease out the distinctions and similarities of our big notions about learning. I decided to apply this spectrum as a lens to consider four big educational theories. I think the line between organic and draconian already exists within the theories with behaviorism and cognitivism on one side (draconian), constructivism and connectivism on the organic side. I won't draw the line in black, and as a techno virtualist my line runs the full gradient of gray.
Cognitivism is hyper draconian: instructor or content centered, rule oriented. At its basic level instructional design depends on cognitivism because the rules or design principles make the user experience pleasing and effective.
Behaviorism can be either very rigid or very organic. Strict behaviorism is content centered and very structured like a recipe. On the other extreme, all interaction is a complex dynamic system of stimulus response. Negotiation, pursuasion, manipulation and love are all the outcomes of organic behaviorism.
Constructivism sits in its own gray space between cognitivism and connectivism. It can be more or less instructor-, content- of learner- driven. It is always learner-driven by virtue of the underlying belief in subjective individually constructed reality.
Connectivism plays well with all the other theories-practices but is decidedly learner-driven. However in connectivism, I would argue that the "learner" may be a human, a group, a system or a machine. Connectivism is not rule oriented in a hierarchical sense, but "rules" or logics (not unlike and maybe including the laws of physics) apply in the dynamic and seemingly unpredictable direction learning and connecting takes.I tell my students, and anyone who will listen, that the four theories are not mutually exclusive. They are all useful. They all explain some aspects of learning. And since there are different types of learning one theory or an other is more useful depending on content and goals. Skillful teachers incorporate strategies that are based on more than one of these theories. And each of us leans toward one or another of the theories because of our understanding of reality. If your world view includes objective reality I suspect you will favor practices based on cognitivism and classical behaviorism. If you believe that reality is a construction of each individual you are likely to favor constructivism or connectivism.