This article was originally published on the online Journal The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning – EURODL, issue 1, 2012.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have been growing in popularity with educational researchers, instructors, and learners in online environments. Online discussions are as important in MOOCs as in other online courses. Online discussions that occur in MOOCs are influenced by additional factors resulting from their volatile and voluntary participation structure. This article aims to examine discussions that took place in MobiMOOC in the spring of 2011, a MOOC structured around mobile learning.
This line of inquiry focused on language from the discussions that contained emotive vocabulary in the MobiMOOC discussion forums. Emotive vocabulary is words or phrases that are implicitly emotional (happy, sad, frustrated) or relate to emotional contexts (I wasn’t able to…). This emotive vocabulary, when present, was examined to determine whether it could serve as a mechanism for predicting future and continued participation in the MOOC. In this research, narrative inquiry approach was used in order to shine a light on the possible predictive qualities of emotive text in both participants who withdrew from the course as well as moderately or moderately active participants. The results indicated that emotive vocabulary usage did not significantly predict or impact participation retention in MobiMOOC.
Blended-learning in Science and Technology. A Collaborative Project-Based Course in Experimental Physics
Overall, collaborative projects were positively rated by students, who appreciated experiencing a real-life “R&D” situation, and said that it enhances knowledge acquisition. Professors observed that this teaching method promotes stronger participation and a more proactive attitude. Furthermore, it was confirmed that well designed e-learning tools and activities are useful in supporting self-learning, a precondition for a creative approach to lab activities and projects. Synchronous online sessions for problem-solving were highly appreciated, because they allow software sharing and immersive remote communication. On the contrary, web-forums did not reach the expected results.
Our conclusion is that e-learning and experimental collaborative activities can be successfully combined to foster meaningful learning, although this is demanding in terms of effort and time. Collaborative projects and rich learning environments are two key features in constructivist instructional design and help students to develop a proactive attitude towards learning, as they have to deal with many kinds of resources instead of receiving a closed set of information, and this requires knowledge management skills. Furthermore, students need to put in place knowledge and skills to implement the project within a group. This implies the possibility to learn together with the others in a dynamic process, but also the need to explain, share and possibly defend particular ideas within the work-group.
We talk about open societies, open innovation, open standards, open ecosystems, open source and open architectures. The idea of “openness” is emerging as a dominant attribute of key developments in our economic and social fabric. Richard Straub argues in this paper that “openness” is the defining quality of 21st century globalisation.
In today’s world of business we experience every day what openness means and what benefits it brings to bear. Openness is associated with values such as tolerance, individual freedom, lifelong learning, participation, empowerment and cooperation, as opposed to typical closed-world values of command and control, top-down management, centralized and bureaucratic governance, over-regulation and collectivist dominance over individual freedom. Monopolies or near-monopolies are examples of the closed world as are traditional hierarchies with their burgeoning bureaucracies and disconnected silos are typical manifestations.
The rise of social networking sites, virtual worlds, blogs, wikis and 3D Internet give us a first idea of the potential of the “interactive and collaborative web” dubbed Web 2.0. Now we have the infrastructure and tools to operate in new ways in open systems. While many of the thoughts about openness and the need for more open social systems have been around for some time, this new infrastructure and new tools accelerate the movement.
An open world is a world of great opportunity and challenge. It requires changes in our individual behaviours and attitudes and it demands major institutional adjustments. How can business respond to it? This article has been published previously at Global Focus, Volume 2, Issue 1 (2008). Publisher: European Foundation for Management Development www.efmd.org
The emphasis of the educational process indicates at this point already that it is not possible to certify such a learning process orientated quality. It can be perceived only when the actual educational process takes place and is always a co-production between the learner and the learning environment. In recent quality debates, it is an oft-made mistake to assess educational environments isolated from the educational processes and not to take into account the target groups and other stakeholders within the environment. Since quality is not a given, stable characteristic of an educational environment but evolves only from the relation between the learner and the learning environment, quality can be perceived and assessed only in the actual context. Also, there is no means of defining quality criteria, which define quality apart from a concrete educational context.
As a consequence, quality development has to be seen as a process of negotiation in which all stakeholders need to participate. The aim of such a participative model for quality development is to define the values and objectives of the learning process together among the stakeholders. Such an active participation of learners will play an important role in future quality development systems. The learners have an active role in these concepts and need to be aware of their personal proposals and demands. In a form of self-management of their own educational biographies, they have to identify necessary characteristics that learning scenarios have to meet in order to enter into a successful educational process. Such participation processes require better information, transparency and counselling on the part of eLearning providers.
At the same time, learners have to be aware that their own responsibility for quality development rises, as they themselves are viewed as quality experts in the learning process.