Welcome to the Hot Seat discussion on Massive Open Social Learning!


HI all and thanks for the heads up @chris interesting discussions that I have not been able to keep up with unfortunately. I think the issue you raise @Sebo about whether a very diffuse network (as I assume big MOOCs often) might crystallise into a number of smaller CoPs is really interesting. I think the movements or fluctuations between engaging at different levels of scale are really interesting - if I am not entirely mistaken I think that @jennymackness actually touched upon this in their paper from NLC2010 (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2010/abstracts/PDFs/Mackness.pdf) where they are describing the somewhat chaotic openness causing people to cluster in smaller groups to make sense of it all. Not sure though, that these turned into CoPs, but I think these shifts between engagement across scales are really interesting and we need to understand these movements/changes more than discussing whether one or the other is the more efficient mode of engagement (which I think to some degree discussions about networks or communities tend to become) - so a really good question of yours Chris to ask that kinds of relationsships we are trying to encourage - but have to leave it there as I am boarding flight :smile:


Hi Jenny,

I’m doing research in web enhanced learning, notably as far as foreign language and culture teaching and learning is concerned. I’m catching up on the posts, so sorry if you already answered my question. Could you give the reference of the article where you mentioned the six factors you’re quoting here. I’m quite interested in your research.

Thanks for your valuable input :smile:


@CelG Thanks for your interest in our work. The first paper we published related to these factors was:

Williams, R., Mackness, J. & Gumtau, S. (2012) Footprints of Emergence. Vol. 13, No. 4. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1267

but a more recent paper with more information is

Williams, R. & Mackness, J. (2014). Surfacing, sharing and valuing tacit knowledge in open learning. 13. ELearning Tag FH JOANNEUM am 17. September 2014 - https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxlbGVhcm5pbmd0YWcyMDE0fGd4OjUyNGIwOTJiZTMzZjhlNjM

and we have a wiki - http://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/home

@dustcube (Roy Williams) and I would love to know what you make of it all and more about your own research.

Jenny (I deleted the previous post because I hit reply before finishing :-))


@Fleur_Prinsen @jennymackness @Downes
Fleur, sure, we do need to incorporate Latour’s ‘non-human’ agency too.

(So that we can move beyond the human/non-human dichotomy, and even more importantly, move completely away from the rather fashionable ‘post-human’ framework, which I think just tries to insert the ‘human’ back into the centre of the debate by feigning denial!)

One way is to go with avatars, broadly speaking, in which (in a conversation prompted by Sian Bayne’s presentation at Sterling some time back) we explored the idea that a thesis (a PhD, in particular) can be seen as an avatar of the writer - a ‘proxy of a special kind’, which is let loose to make its own way (somewhat independent of the writer) in the big wide world.

Another way (prompted by a presentation of Stephen Downes’s), is to go with probes, see:

Probes are “experimental tools / ideas / interactive affordances; uncertain, tentative, interventions, that are inserted-and-let-loose within an emergent event”, to see what happens (from elsewhere in this wiki, but it’s directly in line with Snowden’s practice, and writing).

Probes, specifically, respect (and assume) the unpredictable nature of a learning event, and the autonomous agency of the participants, and celebrate creative, surprising, unforeseen outcomes

(see https://learning-affordances.wikispaces.com/Probes for more).

Probes straddle the domains of human and non-human agency - for me - and its why I think of social learning tools - like aggregators, and footprints of emergence (https://footprints-of-emergence.wikispaces.com/) as probes - and I find it useful (not everybody does) to ‘back load’ probes with lots of the formal stuff on complex adaptive systems (but that’s just me).

So … when I think of designing (for) social learning, I use probes as a key metaphor.

And … in work that I did with @jennymackness and Jutta Pauchenwein, our back-translation (from the German) prompted quite a useful description of ‘autonomy’ as ‘independent initiative’.


@ Jenny Many thanks for your answer and for providing the links of the articles :slight_smile: I followed many MOOCs from several MOOC providers (Coursera, Edx, FutureLearn, EMMA and FUN). Some I completed, others I picked what was of interest to me. I appreciate platforms such as FutureLearn which leave the course open after the course end date, so that we can complete it at our own pace when needed, even if we miss the opportunity to work with other students. It depends on one’s objectives when taking the MOOC. I consider MOOCs a great opportunity, even if it seems to be easier for self-learners and graduates.
Now that I’m a kind of serial MOOCer, I would like to study the other side of MOOCs, on a research level. I’m looking for a lens and models or frameworks to study MOOC design, learners’ objectives and engagement, how learners construct their knowledge and interact in such computer-mediated environments.
One of my research focus besides MOOCs is how to foster intercultural communication competence in computer-mediated environments. For my phD in Education, I created an experimental technology enhanced foreign culture and language learning course, in which French and American university students constructed knowledge on each other’s culture collaboratively in an online setting.
I’ll definitely have a thorough look at the articles you provided, to deepen my knowledge about this, and to see if it can be transferable to my research area.


@CelG It’s really good to know a bit more about what you are working on and interested in. I agree that it’s great when MOOCs leave the course open after the course end date. I sometimes sign up for MOOCs, knowing that I will only be able to look at them after they have finished. This, of course, says something about how much we value social learning. Personally, I can’t cope with social learning in MOOCs - far too noisy and chaotic for me - I rarely engage in discussion forums, but all my research has been collaborative, so clearly it’s the type of social learning rather than social learning per se that I am interested in.

I have been studying/researching the other side of MOOCs for a while. There are still so many unanswered questions. Given your interests I wondered if you might be interested in my colleague Jutta Pauschenwein’s MOOC (cope15) on Competences for Global Collaboration. She has written a series of blog posts about it. See https://zmldidaktik.wordpress.com/category/cope14-15/ Jutta is on sabbatical at the moment but will be back in January. If you would like an introduction let me know.

If you would like to talk further at any time, do please contact me. Maybe a direct message via Twitter might be the best way to go about it. You can find me @jennymackness. No surprises there :slight_smile:


Thanks for ModPo Jenny. There is a session still running so I’ll check out the last 10 days or so. I did another Coursera MOOC at Penn a couple of years ago on Greek and Roman Mythology (Peter Struck) that was also very large and quite well done. Other Coursera MOOCs have been very tedious. One of the notable features about Struck’s MOOC was a periodic “fireside chat” with TAs on the course in which they responded to and commented on forum discussions. In Laurillard’s Conversational Framework, this might align with “adaptation of learners’ activities” and “reflection on learners’ actions”.