Category Archives: Online Communities

Week Seven Summary: Much Ado about MOOCs, Mind Wanderings and Meta-Intelligence

Mind Wandering

Where does one begin to tell the story of a intense week of metacognitive skills development, mind wanderings, and explorations of the ‘hidden mysteries’ of these new online communities called “MOOCs”; searching for meaning, trying to make sense of ‘education’ in the ‘digital age?’ Udacity co-founder Sebastian Thrun had previously declared “education is broken” (Adams, C. et al, 2014. p. 202). Are MOOCs really the answer to the “broken” educational system? Are they floating in a “hype cycle” somewhere between “peak of inflated expectations” and the “trough of disillusionment.” Are they just “a different animal” (Breslow et al, 2013)? MOOCs are a still relatively new (since 2012) phenomenon, yet “the landscape of MOOCs is changing swiftly” (C. Adams, 2014, p. 212).

For me personally, a tentative assessment is that the majority of MOOCs may not necessarily constitute “education” ‘as usual’, but they do offer significant ‘learning’ opportunities that can be educative and potentially transformative. Therefore, I do not think they should be discounted. They may may threaten traditional educational norms, standards or institutions, but it seems that the “shake up” can only improve the deficiencies in the current educational systems at various levels on a global scale. They should be embraced for the learning value they provide for those learners that are inspired to ‘dip,”browse,”lurk,’ or complete the course. There is no ‘failure,’ there is only learning, depending on the learning needs of the learner. The movement towards SPOCs and other variants seem to also portend another positive trend towards the further democratization’ of education.

Exploration and immersion as a ‘virtual ethnographer’ in the Scandinavian Film and TV Culture MOOC gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a ‘digital learner.’ One the one hand, I was a MOOC student, on the other an ethnographer observing the MOOC. I was absorbing the content and visual style of ‘new wave,’ ‘avant garde’ Scandinavian directors, while learning through trial and error how to manipulate digital technologies to construct my representations of the MOOC learning environment. MOOCs offer tremendously exciting fresh research opportunities. Where is MOOC Research Headed

Alternatively, throughout the week, there was a “metacognitive facilitation of spontaneous thought processes” centered around the ScanFilmTV MOOC ‘under observation.’ I had to manage limited time available: doing the academic readings, viewing MOOC video lectures, taking quizzes, blogging, tweeting, commenting on peers’ and instructors ‘comments, constructing slides, finding a music score, troubleshooting various digital technologies, downloading, uploading, editing, pondering, questioning, re-examining, considering ethics, and so on…( and that was just Tuesday night).

“Perhaps it is only with the assistance of metacognition that we can make the best use of our mental meanderings and help our wandering mind find its way during those highly valuable, and possibly uniquely human, intellectual explorations” (Fox, K.C.R. & Christoff, K. 2014, p. 312).
Mind Wandering

Thus, MOOCs can also be viewed not only as a platform for providing particular disciplinary content, but they can also be instrumental in developing metacognitive skills, such as time management. Please see relevant paper below on “Building Engagement for MOOC Students” (Nawrot, I. Doucet, A. 2014). I think the challenges of managing and balancing work, life, leisure, and academic was a common, underlying theme that I picked up on in our own EDC online community this past week. Building Engagement of MOOC Students

EDC peer Jin’s exploration of the ‘meta-literacy’ MOOC prompted a tangential persistent ‘path of inquiry’ and interest on the keyword “meta” as a possible sequel to “post”- or “trans”- human.
Meta, as a prefix for – beyond, transcending, changed or involving change. Perhaps “human” even needs to be re-considered in terms of an emerging collective “meta-intelligence.” Dr. Peter Diamandis proclaims in blog post YouTube video down below that “humans are becoming themselves information technology.” (4:48 minute mark).

Adams, C. et al., 2014. A phenomenology of learning large: the tutorial sphere of xMOOC video lectures. Distance Education, 35(2), pp.1–15.

Baggaley, J., 2014. MOOCS: digesting the facts. Distance Education, 35(2), pp.159–163.

(Other References embedded with hyperlinks in blog post above).

Online Communities and the Workplace

I had an epiphany in the workplace today. A group of senior leaders in my organization sitting at the head of the conference table beside their Japanese counterparts starting chatting effusively about how they had all befriended one another on Facebook. It reminded me observation by Kozinets (2010) about how online communities are changing the nature of work and work relationships (p. 38). Although I am sure that these senior executives regularly engage in email correspondence each other, the fact that they seem now connected by social media adds another dimension to their work and power relationships, as well as blurring the boundaries between their personal and professional lives.