ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Archive for the ‘#change11’ Category

How can you speak about MOOCs without having learned in them from beginning to end? I am asking myself this question when I discuss MOOCs with colleagues who write a MOOC proposal or when I’m interviewed by people who are writing papers about MOOCs – people who haven’t a learning experience in a MOOC.

My learning experience in massive open online courses started 2011 with the Change11 MOOC –Change: Education, Learning and Technology, facilitated by Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier (using the web via gRSShopper) where I stayed engaged during the 35 weeks with different levels of activity. In 2013 I was an enthusiastic learner in the Creativity MOOCCrash Course on Creativity, guided by Tina Seelig, Stanford University (using the marvelous platform Novoed). In 2013 I persuaded a team at my university to try out our own MOOC experiment and in 2014 we promoted and carried out the cope14-MOOC Competences of Global Collaboration, facilitated by 7 experts and supported by two conveners (implemented on a WordPress platform). And in autumn of 2014 I learned in the SNA-MOOC – Social Network Analysis, offered by Lada Adamic, University of Michigan (implemented on Coursera). At the moment we are preparing the cope15-MOOC and I’m learning again in a MOOC, this time it’s the
Contar Historias para el Cambio MOOC – Storytelling, offered by Acumen (using Novoed).

Being an active learner in a MOOC is every time a different challenge.

  • In Change11, my first MOOC and a classical connectivist MOOC, I struggled with the abundance of materials, persons, blogs. I succeeded in building a network which is valid until today and I got many new ideas which influenced the development of my institute ZML in a significant way.
  • In the Creativity MOOC I was seduced and challenged by the platform Novoed to get in contact with many many other learners, to vote and comment, – and to spend more time in the MOOC then previously planned. We accomplished our group work in a team of 29 with a great team leader and a platform which supported cooperation in an ingenious way. Because of the integration of Social Media into the platform this MOOC was no common xMOOC. In the Creativity MOOC I changed my attitude towards creativity and I became more courageous to include creative artifacts into my trainings.
  • Our cope14 MOOC was a hybrid MOOC, with videos and assignments but focussing on exchange of learners and based on the connectivist principles autonomy, openness, diversity, connectedness / interaction. And the learners reported that they learned something unexpected which corresponded to our objective to enable emergent learning.
  • The Social Network Analysis MOOC was a classical xMOOC where I learned alone. Here the challenge was the content, which was rich and deep and difficult. During the 8 weeks I got a kind of understanding of SNA and at the moment I’m trying to analyze my online groups and communities using SNA. This xMOOC didn’t change my attitude or my professional future but it added a nice tool to my toolbox.
  • At the moment I’m a little bit shocked in the Contar Historias MOOC (I’m in week 1) where I wanted to practice my Spanish by reading and writing nice stories. And I was happy to deal with the platform Novoed again and to discover new features. But this time there is a clear and well described learning concept behind the MOOC integrating long and intensive synchronous meetings into the curriculum where I should speak about my stories. Uffa.

When I think about offering a MOOC I aim to challenge the learners, to surprise them, seduce them. I want to give them an abundance of questions, ideas and a lot of freedom what and how they want to learn and I want to encourage the to bring their context into the learning process.

In the last “ZML-Leseclub” Gudrun, Erika and I had a vivid discussion about MOOCs. As preparation of our meeting we have studied some articles of issue 33 of the eLearning Papers “MOOCs and beyond”.  After a short overview of the articles of issue 33 we focussed on the article of Gùardia et al “MOOC Design Principles. A Pedagogical Approach from the Learner’s Perspective“.

The authors did an exploratory study of blog posts written during the participation in MOOCs to identify main design elements of a MOOC. The result were 10 principles such as: learner empowerment, learning plan and clear orientations, collaborative learning, social networking, peer assistance, … My colleagues liked this list whereas I was not satisfied with it because I didn’t find a factor especially relevant for MOOCs. I believe if someone had asked me some years ago (before the MOOC hype) what are the key-ingredients of the design of a good e-learning course I would have produced a list very similar to this one.

In our discussion Gudrun said that MOOCs according to their name are massive open online courses which means that many learners interact with materials and with each other in a structured environment and with open access. For Erika and her the learning material (often videos) is at the center of today’s MOOCs.

I was struggling to describe the difference between this list and my cMOOC experience with respect to the change11 MOOC. It was my first MOOC and had a real impact on my personal development.

In the change11 MOOC I was amazed by the diversity of learners, approaches, contexts. In the daily news a huge amount of tweets and blog posts were listed everyday. At the beginning I was focussing on the experts input, their reading materials and their questions but quickly I switched to read the blogs of participants. I preferred to reflect on their understanding of the subject, their “remix” and their “repurpose” in different contexts. The change11 website supported me well to get diverse perspectives of the topic of the week and to expand my network. I got to know more clearly that I prefer the open contributions of practitioners with their insecurities and questions to expert input who often publish rather “finalized” ideas.

In our discussion my colleagues said that I could expand my network by participating in a conference as well.  But I never build a network as easily and successfully as during change11. The continuity of this MOOC and the duration of 35 weeks were perfect for me to read posts, subscribe to some, come again, choose between interesting blogs and people. I believe that Siemens’ principles of connectivism (diversity of opinions, connecting and nurturing nodes, to know more, liminal space) need continuity – and of course it is an advantage that I can participate in online “courses” in a more flexible way.

Maybe I was “imprinted” by my first MOOC experience and therefore I’m applying the principles of connectivism to every c/xMOOC I attend whereas my colleagues are more realistic and see the whole spectrum of MOOCs as they are.

Reflecting my participation in the change11 MOOC again I did a footprint as well which I will include in this post.

Footprint change11
The footprint shows my very open learning process, I experienced emerging learning in all clusters. I was in the zone of emergent learning all the time, I didn’t perceive prescribed tasks. Some factors are in the sharp emergence zone: The openness was risky for me, it challenged me and I needed a lot of energy for this MOOC, it was experiential, I was acting autonomously and had a lot of responsibility to organize my learning.

Im nächsten ZML-Leseclub möchten wir uns wieder einmal dem Thema MOOCs  widmen.

1. MOOC Reflexion

  • Welche Erfahrungen machte  Heinz als einer der Gastgeber des  howtomooc?
  • Welche Erfahrungen machte Jutta als didaktische Inputgeberin und  Reflektorin des howtomooc?
  • Was bedeutet  es, dass MOOCs plötzlich im Horizon-Report 2013 aufgetaucht sind?
  • Braucht Europa ein eigenes MOOC?
  • … ??

2. Aktuelle MOOC-Angebote

  • Welche kommenden MOOCs würden uns reizen und warum? Siehe etwa: Find Open Online Courses (ich frage mich ja, ob es nicht Zeit ist ein xMOOC  zu absolvieren, um auch Einblick in diesen Trend zu bekommen).

Ich freu mich auf unsere Diskussion und auf die Fragen, die die anderen Leseclub-Mitglieder mitbringen bzw. die während unseres Gesprächs auftauchen werden.

At the end of July 2012 I attended the “Academic BEtreat” of  Etienne Wenger and Beverly Wenger-Trayner together with 8 f2f learners in California and 7 online learners (my posts about the BEtreat are collected here) – and today we will meet online to reflect:

“How are things unfolding since BEtreat ’12 – stories about what you have put into practice or not” (Mail of Bev + Etienne)

This post helps me to prepare myself for our online reunion. Looking back I remember that the experience of this BEtreat mixture of f2f workshop and online group helped me to get a deeper understanding of online and f2f processes.

After the BEtreat I continued to think about my booth focussing on: How could I integrate the online socialisation process into open courses?


I discussed this question with different persons at conferences and in working groups and I decided that I wanted to integrate the approach of online sozialisation in a rather small group with the challenge of an open course in a not so small group.

Before Christmas I developed a course design which will be tested during the next 5 weeks. In the course “Content strategy” the participants who were willing to register are invited into a facebook group to familiarize with each other and to develop a common commitment for the following open course on Google+. The phase of online socialization in fb will last for 10 days, the open course “Content strategy” with reading materials, questions and online conferences with experts will last for 3 weeks – in this open phase of the course I expect the participation of further participants. I’m very curios how this concept will work (and I’m happy that my colleague Erika will lead the moderation of the fb group).

After the BEtreat I wanted to read the material about the “Value creation framework” in detail and I planned to deepen my study of Wenger’s “Communities of practice” – but as life is short and all the time there is a lot of urgent work to do I didn’t succeed in doing it.

Last but not least I’m very happy that I got to know the article Footprints of emergence by Roy Trevor Williams, Jenny Mackness, Simone Gumtau – I’m in contact with Jenny and her team and at the moment I’m working on a paper about these footprints with my colleagues Erika and Gudrun where we want to discuss and analyze three of our courses with the footprint approach.

Today I want to reflect and close my participation of the “Openess in Education 2012” MOOC.

Compared to my participation in the Change11 MOOC I didn’t participate very actively in this MOOC, I wrote only a few posts and at the end I dropped out.

Why didn’t I succeed to engage into this MOOC as I did in the case of the Change11 MOOC?

1. Personal time table

In fact I didn’t have a lot of time for the MOOC as September and October are the most intensive months in my work (a lot of conferences and classes). Therefore I outlined a framework for my activities in my first post – I wanted to check 5 of the 7 modules and to  be active in 4 of them. As I wrote 4 posts about the content of the oped12 MOOC I fulfilled a part of my plan.

2. Organization of the MOOC

From an organizational point of view I was unsatisfied with this MOOC:

  • I missed a clear timetable with the information about what topics in what week –  there is the course outline but without dates.
  • And the homepage of the oped12 MOOC doesn’t show the actual week but only the page where learners can register.
  • So when I wanted to deal with the content of the MOOC I had to check in the actual week. I tried to use the oped12-url adding f.e. week5.html – and it seemed to work – but starting with week7 the web-pages had an old date, f.e. has the date February 28 – March 7, 2011.
  • I looked for information about the actual week at twitter, but there weren’t any tweets about the weeks… Therefore I was never sure if the content I was looking at was the right content, which was rather annoying.
  • Because of my time restraints I didn’t read the Daily Newsletter every time and therefore I discovered rather late that George posted the week’s information every Monday as for example in
  • At the begin of the oped12 MOOC I decided not to use the discussion forum – maybe all relevant information was posted there? In the Change11 MOOC there were a lot of activities online and so I got the information about the weeks’ topics in twitter, in blog posts, at the Change11 website.
  • Furthermore there were planned activities in twitter once a week at a special time – but as there was no international time schedule …. I missed that as well.

3. No community of learners?

In the Change11 MOOC during the weeks there were many interesting postings, I got insights into the work of other participants, I loved to read aspects of  the week’s topic written from different perspectives and I founded my own small network of other learners – via reading, writing and commenting. I appreciated the ideas of the other learners as much as the experts’ input.

In the oped12 MOOC there were some interesting postings in the first weeks and there started a short exchange via comments. But these activities disappeared quickly and I felt “left alone”. I looked forward to read many postings about OER material in Module 4 – Searching for resources – because I never had time and motivation to do a quick surview. But there weren’t any discussions about the recommended collections of material – or at least I didn’t find them. In this phase I dropped out of the MOOC.


I didn’t take the time to understand how this MOOC worked (discussion forum, twitter dates, Monday’s Newsletter) – and there were not enough online activities to help me. Based on my choice of tools I didn’t receive enough relevant information and therefore my motivation dropped.

After these experiences of two MOOCs I understand more clearly what I need to get engaged in a “cMOOC”. I will use this experience for my choice of the next MOOC.

Week 7 in the Openness in Education MOOC starts with

Complex adaptive systems (CAS) are a significant shift in thinking. Instead of seeing the world as a mechanistic structure that produces set outcomes, CAS states that multiple interacting elements respond continually to feedback from each other and the environment. As such, it is difficult to predict outcomes. This limitation suggests that since outcomes are not always knowable, our attention is best served when directed at the elements interacting and the nature of their interactions.

This introductory text reminds me of yesterday’s discussion of the blog post “Why #CFHE12 is not a MOOC!“. Allyn reflects his own learning in the context of MOOCs and asks if the term “course” should be used for a MOOC. He writes:

Courses are required not only provide the general course information but also information on the objectives (goals), learning outcomes, learning activities, resources and assessment.

… the absence of the framework for learning that is normally associated with a course does [in my experience] negatively impact learning.

In the following comment I agree with Allyn that our understanding of “courses” is different from what is happening in MOOCs. And I ask if we should rethink “learning outcomes” as well.

So what? If we – as teachers – cannot define learning outcomes anymore, what is our role in the learning process? In the context of emergent learning students and lifelong learners learn the unexpected, in connectivism they choose their own learning path AND now in complex adaptive systems the outcome is open.

I’m very curios how these trends will further develop. I like it because I believe in self-responsibility of learners.

Since Georg tweeted the Merlot: Call for Papers – Special Issue MOOCs yesterday I’m excited and nervous and doubtful. Should I write an extended abstract about my experiences in the Change11 MOOC ? Would it be interesting for others? Is my pragmatic approach and my focus on transfer and changing, further developing courses, making learning a pleasant, interesting, demanding, democratic, playful, open (?) experience valid for the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT)?

And what about my English … as my mother tongue is German. Furthermore I’m living in this small European state Austria and my first open course was dedicated to learners in the region of Styria… no worldwide learners of different nationalities but more or less local guys and girls who were terrified by the challenge of an open course but nevertheless reflected that they had learned something.

As I’m lion-hearted I grabbed the bull by the horns (not sure if this phrase exists in English as well) and wrote about 500 words expressing my enthusiasm for MOOCs and the Change11 MOOC in particular (I love looooong learning experiences, actual MOOCs only last some weeks which is not long enough in my opinion). I addressed my “sensemaking” in the MOOC quoting Weick and Wenger (you can find some posts around their theories in this blog) and finished with the “moderation” issue – one of my online identities is “online moderator” and I’m meditating about the function of moderation in a MOOC in the last year and until now.

But are these considerations valid for the extend? What do you think? What would you write? I’m really curios who else is excited and nervous and doubtful about his or her submission of an abstract. And I would be happy to get hints how to improve my abstract 🙂