Running deep learning communities within connectivist MOOCs

A Collaborative Exploration (CE) in which participants develop a set of themes and examples to clarify when and how to run communities that support deep learning in connectivist MOOCs.
  • In brief, CEs are an extension of Problem- or Project-Based Learning (PBL) and related approaches to education in which participants address a scenario or case in which the problems are not well defined, shaping their own directions of inquiry and developing their skills as investigators and prospective teachers (in the broadest sense of the word). (For more background, read the prospectus.)
  • If you want to know what a CE requires of you, review the expectations and mechanics.
    • on hangout for 1 hour each week, Monday, February 3, 10, 17, 24 --in two sub-groups--9-10am or 4-5pm (EST, USA). The URL for the first hangout will be provided only to those who register (via http://bit.ly/CEApply), which entails making a commitment to attend that 1st session and at least 2 of the other 3 hangouts.
  • If you are wondering how to define a meaningful and useful approach to the topic, let us present a scenario for the CE and hope this stimulates you to apply to participate. We will then let CE participants judge for themselves whether their inquiries are relevant.
  • Intended outcomes for participants of this CE are of two kinds:
    • a) tangible: set of themes and examples that clarify when and how to run communities that support deep learning in connectivist MOOCs; and
    • b) experiential: being impressed at how much can be learned with a small commitment of time using the CE structure to motivate and connect participants.

Scenario
During connectivist- or c-MOOCs learning takes place through horizontal connections and sharing made within communities that emerge around, but extend well beyond, the materials provided by the MOOC hosts. But recent c-MOOCs on learning (creative, connected, rhizomatic, deep...) leave room for clarification of when and how to run smaller communities that support learning during the c-MOOCs. (There's also room to clarify when and how to run live whole-MOOC sessions, but that's a different matter--or is it?) Saying this is not to presume that everyone who signs up wants to make the time to be part of a smaller community or to dictate one image of "community" for such smaller communities. Indeed, some of those most involved in responding to MOOC materials may want no more than the facebook/google+ community of sharing thoughts and links. Yet, it might be timely--as well as interesting to some c-MOOC participants--to develop for ourselves a set of themes and examples to clarify when and how to form smaller communities that support deep learning in c-MOOCs and in open online education more generally. Such principles or themes could help us go to influence two audiences: those who have not experienced the moderate-size collaborative learning that happens in a collaborative exploration (CE); and those who, for reasons we may end up clarifying, devote their learning/teaching design efforts at the massive level (leaving room for clarification or modification of when and how to run smaller communities that support learning).

There is some obvious self-referentiality here: A collaborative exploration is a form of small community that aims for thicker connections while exploring how a topic connects with our own concerns and interests. In this light, some of the themes and examples the participants of this CE come up may take the form of compare and contrast between the CE experience for the and their previous experiences forming smaller communities of various kinds within c-MOOCs or engaging with the larger online c-MOOC "community." Let's see.