When MOOCs Happen: Alec Couros Explores Personal Learning Networks

Alec Couros gives a quasi-case study account of his experience facilitating (and I really like that term to define the role of an instructor in a MOOC) EC&I 831, an open access course that grew into an open online course, and eventually had ten times the number of registered students interacting online.  The course is commonly organized with cMOOCs, based on the focus on open access, the online component, the learning theory of the course, and the ratio of external students to internal students.  In this anthology chapter, Couros uses his experience with EC&I 831 to discuss the importance of personal learning networks, analyzing learning theory behind open access learning (and subsequently Open Online Courses).  

I will come back to this for my personal scholarship, but what stood out on first read:

  • Couros focuses his initial theory on open access and the “open movement,” which has a great deal in common with the scholarship of Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito and Clay Shirky.  Unlike the others, however, Couros is an Education guy, and his theory links directly to the likes of Bruner & Vygotsky.
  • Constructivism is a big factor in Couros’ development, as is Social Learning Theory (which Couros refers to as Social Cognitive Theory), which he lists as unique to Bandura, though my scholarship has shown Bandura growing from Vygotsky.  Couros looks at Constructivism as coming from Vygotsky.  He also mentions andragogy, or adult learning theory, which was new to me up until this lit review (seminal thinker is Malcolm Knowles).
  • On Connectivism:  Connectivism emphasizes the importance of digital appliances, hardware, software, and network connections in human learning.  The theory stresses the development of “metaskills” for evaluating and managing information and network connections, and notes the importance of pattern recognition as a learning strategy.  Connectivists recognize the influences that emerging technologies have on human cognition, and theorize that technology is reshaping the ways that humans create, store, and distribute knowledge.  Good summary…though it gets me wondering how connectivism can work in a world of haves and have-nots re:  access.
  • There is a unique discussion of the difference between a personal learning environment (PLE) and a personal learning network (PLN).  Both acronyms are thrown about constantly, and Couros wants to have some defining characteristics.  What I get is that PLEs are how a learner interacts with an environment (likely digital), and PLNs include the human variable.

4 thoughts on “When MOOCs Happen: Alec Couros Explores Personal Learning Networks

  1. Pingback: Instructor, Facilitator or Free-For-All: What Will ETMOOC Provide? | All MOOCs, All The Time

  2. Pingback: Instructor, Facilitator or Free-For-All: What Will ETMOOC Provide?moocdesign | moocdesign

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