ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Im ZML-Leseclub gehen wir weiter den Konzepten hinter den footprints of emergence nach. Thema unseres nächsten Treffens ist die “Complexity Theory”.

Gemäß der englischen Wikipedia sind folgende Themen mit der Complexity Theory verwandt:

  • Chaos theory (and computational complexity theory and algorithmic information theory)
  • Complexity theory and organisations (Behandlung von strategischen Aspekten)
  • Complexity theory and economics (Anwendung in der Wirtschaft)

Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory kenne ich aus der Physik und Mathematik. In chaotischen Systemen verursacht eine kleine Änderung der Anfangsbedingung eine nicht vorhersagbare Änderung des Gesamtsystems (plakatives Beispiel: ein Flügelschlag eines Schmetterlings ändert das Wetter). Ein Beispiel dafür ist das Doppelpendel. Die Bewegung des Doppelpendels ist zwar vorhersagbar, deterministisch (es gibt eine Bewegungsgleichung), allerdings höchst empfindlich auf die Anfangsbedingungen. D.h. auch wenn man versucht das Doppelpendel auf die exakt gleiche Art anzustoßen ist die resultierene Bewegung immer unterschiedlich, da es in der Realität nicht möglich ist eine Anfangsbedingung exakt gleich zu wiederholen. Beim chaotischen Pendel im Giessener Mathematikum sieht man die chaotische Bewegung des Doppelpendels gut, gegen Ende des Videos dreht es sich sogar in die Gegenrichtung.

Ein berühmter Name in der Chaosforschung ist Benoit Mandelbaum, der Erfinder der fraktalen Geometrie (fraktal kommt von fractus – zerbrochen). Fraktale haben einen “ausgefransten Rand”. Man sieht das etwa bei der “Kochkurve“, die zwar eine endliche Fläche umschließt, bei der man jedoch nicht weiß, wie lange sie ist. (Ein nützlicher Begriff ist die Hausdorff Dimension, die bei Fraktalen keine ganzzahlige Dimension besitzt).

Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, dass chaotische Systeme in der Natur häufig vorkommen und es zahlreiche Theorien und mathematische Modelle gibt, sie zu beschreiben. Solche Modelle werden auch in der Wirtschaft verwendet.

In einem der Artikel, den wir für den ZML-Leseclub diskutieren, geht es um Complexity theory and organisations / and economics.

Simple, complicated, complex and chaotic systems

Im Harvard Business Review beschreiben David J. Snowden und Mary E. Boone “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making“, dabei unterscheiden sie zwischen einfachen, komplizierten, komplexen und chaotischen Systemen.

  1. In einfachen Systemen unterstützen “Best paractice” Beispiele Führungskräfte in ihrer Entscheidungsfindung. Die AutorInnen nennen solche Systeme “known knowns” – die Entscheidungen werden akzeptiert, weil die Beteiligten das Problem oder die Herausforderung auf eher gleiche Art verstehen. Im Weiteren ist angeführt, dass die Welt selten so einfach ist und auch in einfachen Systemen Probleme auftreten können.
  2. Komplizierte Systeme brauchen Expertinnen und Experten. Im Bereich der “known unknowns” liefern ExpertInnen “good pratice” Beispiele, da es eine “beste” Lösung meist nicht gibt. Komplizierte Fragestellungen fordern Führungskräfte, gerade auch wenn die ExpertInnen einander widersprechende Lösungswege vorschlagen. Kreative Ansätze können Lösungen für komplizierte Probleme bringen, ein spielebasiertes Szenario kann zu neuen Perspektiven führen.
  3. Komplexe Systeme werden als “unknown unknowns” bezeichnet: was passieren wird, ist nicht vorhersagbar. Erst im Rückblick kann eine komplexe Situation verstanden werden. Komplexe Systeme brauchen eine experimentelle Herangehensweise, in der Fehler passieren dürfen. “Safe to fail”-Experimente finden in einem sicheren Raum statt, in dem Ideen scheitern können (sich als nicht nützlich erweisen können). Mit den Ideen, die beobachtbare positive Ergebnisse liefern, kann weitergearbeitet werden. Emergente Prozesse spielen beim Umgang mit komplexen Systemen eine wichtige Rolle.
  4. Die Entwicklung chaotischer Systeme ist nicht voraussehbar. chaotische Systeme sind “unknowable“. Die Herausforderung für Führungskräfte besteht darin, eine chaotische Situation (Krise) in eine komplexe Situation überzuführen.

Den Zusammenhang von komplexen Systemen mit Didaktik, Lehre und Training werden wir bei unserem kommenden Leseclub diskutieren.


As initiator of the cope14 mooc and in my actual role as moderator I’m thinking about the motivations of the learners. Actually we are in week 4 which is the most challenging week with a lot of materials and assignments. In this week there are not so many learners actively posting contributions and it is easier to analyze fewer persons. Nevertheless my feelings about the learners were developing during the former weeks as well.

Self-motivated learners with lust for learning

There are learners who want to learn about the topics of cope14, they are curios about the content and they immerge in their learning processes. I suspect that these leaners are older than 30 or 40 years. Observing them I perceive that some of them have already had experiences with MOOCs but others are newbies. I admire their energy for learning. A part of them comes from abroad and all profit from the openness of cope14.

Semi self-motivated learners who bond with their teachers

There are students in our MOOC who got invited to cope14 by their teachers which are not their business teachers. And in some cases business is not a part of their study degree at all. I love to read their comments, they are funny learners who are open to new and challenging topics and they try to understand what’s going on in a special week. They seem to be satisfied with the insights they gain in their learning processes. (these students are coming from our university as well as from other universities).

In their attitude they are similar to the self-motivated learners with lust for learning. And … in some of their postings I got the impression that their bond with their teachers helped them to enter cope14 with an open mind and to overcome the challenges of learning in our MOOC.

Externally-motivated demotivated leaners

Furthermore there are learners who didn’t succeed or do not want to understand the principles of learning in cope14. (During the preparation phase I discussed the cope14 MOOC with many teachers and asked them to include it as part of a regular class and to allow freedom of learning for their students). Many of these learners are business students and were invited by their business teachers. My first hypothesis is that the open approach of cope14 is very different from the day to day experiences as business students or business teachers.  My second hypotheses is that the dialogue and negotiation between teachers and students about learning in cope14 failed as well as the briefing process between teachers and cope14 initiators.

I expected some of the business students to love the openness of cope14, the materials and questions, the videos and the efforts their teachers invested into preparation of the weeks. In week 4 I cannot detect any of these students which is rather strange.

Of course these are my preliminary findings based on my observations and feelings and my leaners’ lists. After the end of cope14 we will evaluate all the material we gained during our MOOC experiment in more detail.

Today is the fifth day in our cope14 MOOC. As foreseen about 500 learners signed up for cope14, about 55% are students from our university of applied sciences. There is a great mix of learners coming from many different countries. A great part of them are (bachelor or master) students, some are teachers, others are busy in different fields of work.

There is a lot of activity on the website itself, 776 comments during the first 4 and a half days – and more than 1000 page views each day. I’m happy that so many learners feel up to make their learning public on the cope14 website. More than 100 learners joined the facebook community and Erika, its moderator, reports of many interactions. The fb community is public but the participants have to join it to post comments. The Google+ community, moderated by myself, is a closed community to give learners the opportunity to exchange their experiences in a protected room. About 30 learners choose this possibility.

My role in cope14 is to facilitate and to moderate learning processes (at least that’s my vision). In the cope14 team we aim to differentiate between the jobs of moderator (convener) and facilitator. Facilitators prepare the “virtual room”, in this case the websites of cope14 of the respective week. They give professional feedback to the topics of the week and attend the hangout at the end of his or her week. This means that most facilitators are active only in one week of cope14. The moderators accompany the learners during the whole 6 weeks. They monitor what’s happening on the diverse channels of cope14 (website, fb, g+, twitter, individual blogs), support the learners, acknowledge the learners’ efforts, and help the facilitators to get an overview of what’s happening.

Moderating with help of the learners list

Planning my role as moderator I asked myself if and how I would succeed to “moderate” learning processes of hundreds of learners. In my smaller learning groups (up to 30 learners) I’m happy to use lists of learners where I document their activities and add comments. In the cope14 MOOC I’m using a “learners’ list” as well (as I planned in my blog post of one month ago). It’s a A3 sheet with learner names at each side. I had to add the leaners who signed up after the start per hand. With a color code I visualize who is in the fb or g+ community, who writes in his or her own blog. Until now there’s no color for twitter as there are not so many tweets.


I’m amazed and of course very happy that this list is also working with so many learners. To search for the learner’s name, document the activity, and add a comment I “get to know” the learners a little bit. In my list I have already 109 active learners (without counting the activities in fb) – and I have a kind of overview of their interactions. I’m able to relate  some of the nicknames to the persons on my list, I fantasize about their personality when I read their very long or very short or funny or serious comments.

Learning in my role as facilitator

I learned a lot about the topics of week 1 “communication around borders: introduction and warm-up ” following the experiences and ideas of the learners. And I learned something new and unexpected – isn’t it great that our concept of emergent learning is working for me as well?

I know that many web users around the world are using google translate to understand texts written in a language unknown to them. As I’m a little bit snobbish I never use goggle translate and despise its translations. But … there are learners in cope14 who came from countries who do not use Latin characters. Their name sometimes are in characters which I cannot read. So I could not identify the learner and I hated it. Therefore I decided to use google translate. I copied a sequence of beautiful but not readable characters into google translate – and got a translation into Latin characters (and learned that the originals were in Russian and Thai). I was really very impressed by the capacity of my laptop to be able to copy these characters and bye the capacity of google to read and translate it. So the cope14 MOOC helped me already in the first week to become less snobbish!

The preparation of cope14 is done – we will start after Easter on April 22. The only thing left to do is to reflect the design of cope14  – and to enjoy the Easter Weekend.

I evaluated the design of cope14 and our intentions using the method of the footprints of emergence of Jenny Mackness and Roy Williams.


The footprints help to investigate how open the learning design is and if the learners run the risk to drown in chaos. I’m doing footprints for more than 1,5 years now and I like them a lot. The 25 factors give me the possibility to reflect my design in detail and at the end to discover something unexpected.

At the centre of the blue circle and around it there is the zone of prescribed learning. As we respect the principles of connectivism autonomy, diversity, interactivity and openness for cope14, there are no factors in the prescribed zone.

When I’m looking at my footprint I observe that the design is an open one and that I suppose the learners to have a lot of freedom for personal growth (cluster “Agency”). I believe that this freedom for development could also be exhausting for them, as my values for the factors multi modal (XM), open affordances, self organisation, autonomy, negotiated outcomes and identy are rather high –  the outer circle of the white points defines the beginning of the edge of chaos.

One factor is already in the edge of chaos, it’s Mp (cluster “Open / Structure”) – multi path – I perceive that there are many different possibilities to learn in cope14 (the website with its links and videos, the learners’ blogs, the fb or g+ communities, twitter, …) so I see the danger for the learners to get lost. On the other hand if they succeed in overcoming this phase they already have learned a lot and probably acquired competences for organizing themselves online.

Now I’m free to start the Easter Weekend and to relax before engaging in cope14.

On 22. April our cope14 MOOC will start with hundreds of learners – and my colleague Erika and I aim to moderate this bunch of different learners.

I believe I’m not too bad in monitoring online learning processes and I have a lot of experience caring for my online groups – but … these were rather small groups, 8 persons, 15 or 16, sometimes 30 in my teaching or training activities, sometimes around 50-60. And, yes, they wrote 1100 contributions in 3 weeks Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

Schlagwörter: , ,

Aufgrund meines Engagements im postgradualen Masterlehrgang Public Communication lese ich gerade Stefan Münkers Buch: Emergenz digitaler Öffentlichkeiten: Die Sozialen Medien im Web 2.0 (2009). Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

In Autumn 2013 we started to work on our own MOOC – in this post I want to explain why we decided to create a MOOC, how it will look like and what our objectives are. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »


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