Incessant Learning: a #digped Discussion

On Friday, September 6 from 1:00 – 2:00pm Eastern (10:00 – 11:00am Pacific), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion under the hashtag #digped to discuss the experiences of students in MOOCs and other open learning environments. While MOOC innovators have rallied around their numbers, their platforms, and their approaches, the voices of students who take MOOCs have been largely unheard. Yet, it is often in the students’ participation that MOOCs survive or perish.

The conversation curated and archived via Storify.

In Online Learning: a Manifesto, Jesse writes,

The openness of the internet is its most radical and pedagogically viable feature. This isn’t to say that every class should be entirely open, but we should not assume in advance (or use systems that assume) we need a learning space to be closed (or password-protected). Some learning happens best in rooms with walls, but some learning happens best in fields or in libraries or in town squares.

MOOCs offer the potential for a learning that is more perpetual, challenging our ideas that a sound education happens in a prescribed (and circumscribed) environment. In this discussion, we want to think about learners — and less about the MOOC itself — especially as learners make learning a more incessant, hybrid, and lifelong experience.

In “MOOCagogy: Assessment, Networked Learning, and the Meta-MOOC”, I argue that “The kind of learning we need to have happen in MOOCs can’t be contained — not in neat and tidy discussion fora, video lectures, and standardized assessments. We must start by observing learning in its natural habitat with a hunter’s blind, good binoculars, and plenty of rations. MOOCs are anthropological opportunities, not instructional ones.” And Patrick Masson has observed, “I’ve been in this really good MOOC for the past 20 years, it’s called ‘the Internet’.” Many have argued the Internet itself — sometimes to the chagrin of the online courses that float upon it — is a vast learning machine, or a self-perpetuating learning environment. In what ways have digital students begun to break apart the idea of the course, to break apart even our long-held thoughts about how, when, and where learning happens? Do our notions of learning — even our most progressive ones — reflect learning that’s already happening informally?

The goal of this #digped chat will be to question whether we are learning enough from learners — particularly the ones who populate the digital. Here are some questions to consider in advance of the discussion:

  • Where does learning happen outside of MOOCs and other online courses?
  • What does “learning in the wild” imply? How can naturally-occurring, informal learning translate to the online classroom or MOOC?
  • If, as Jesse has said, there lie opportunities for analysis “not in the thesis but the fissure”, how do we change the way we evaluate learning to accommodate learning that happens unexpectedly, outside the institution’s purview, and in ways that can’t always be measured?

This #digped chat also acts as an announcement for a new Hybrid Pedagogy project: an e-book written by students of MOOCs and other open learning environments, to be published soon. The book has been curated by George Veletsianos, written by his students, edited by George, myself, and Chris Friend, and will be published on Github with the help of the inimitable Kris Shaffer and Barry Peddycord III. It will serve to continue the discussion we’ll undertake on Friday.

Add thoughts and questions below in advance of the conversation and join us on September 6 at 1:00pm ET. Check out to see when to join us in your own time zone. For those unable to attend this week, Hybrid Pedagogy’s #digped occurs on the first Friday of every month. Our next #digped conversation will occur on Friday, October 4, 2013, same time, same place. If you have suggestions for future topics, feel free to tweet them to @slamteacher or @hybridped.

[Photo by basheertome]

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