Monday, April 21, 2014

Connectivism as Learning Theory

I think the students in the Building Online Collaborative Environments Course has an almost impossible task. Here is their effort to prove that connectivism is a learning theory.
"Connectivism has a direct impact on education and teaching as it works as a learning theory. Connectivism asserts that learning in the 21st century has changed because of technology, and therefore, the way in which we learn has changed, too.

"Not too long ago, school was a place where students memorized vocabulary and facts. They sat in desks, read from a textbook, and completed worksheets. Now, memorization is not as prevalent because students can just “Google it” if they need to know something."

Though this is not very accurate, in fairness it was an impossible task because of the readings they were assigned (Verhagen’s criticism of connectivism and Siemens’ response to Verhagen) and because the context appears to be the application of learning theories in the classroom.

Verhagen's criticism is an early and not particularly well-informed criticism, which Siemens does a reasonable job refuting. But if the sort of perspective of connectivism that you're given is one where 'you look up answers through your network instead of remembering them' then your understanding of connectivism will be significantly limited.

What is a Learning Theory

So in this post, let me clear, first, about what a theory actually is, and then let me outline the ways in which connectivism can be thought of as a learning theory.

To start then: theories explain. They're not handbooks or best-practices manuals. They're not taxonomies, in which a domain of enquiry is split into types, steps or stages. Theories answer why-questions. They identify underlying causes, influencing factors, and in some cases, laws of nature.

Explaining why learning occurs has two parts: first, describing what learning is, and second, describing how it happens (or what causes it to happen). Both parts are important. Theories may be as deeply divided about what something is as they are in how it happens.

A learning theory, therefore, describes what learning is and explains why learning occurs. It is not a teaching manual or a set of pedagogical best practices. You don't 'apply connectivism in the classroom' (though you might apply an understanding of connectivism in the classroom).

What is Learning?

According to connectivism, learning is the formation of connections in a network. The learning theory, therefore, in the first instance, explains how connections are formed in a network.

But think for a moment about how this contrasts with the theories of learning offered by other theories. For example:
  • in behaviourism, learning is the creation of a habitual response in particular circumstances (or as Gilbert Ryle would say, to learn is to acquire a disposition).
  • in instructivism, learning is the successful transfer of knowledge from one person (typically a teacher) to another person (typically a student).
  • in constructivism, learning is the creation and application of mental models or representations of the world.
As you can see, these are very different stories about what learning is. This is why it's diffiocult to compare theories of learning. The vocabularies are different, and they are talking about different things. Thomas Kuhn called this the incommensurability of theories.

As you can see, connectivism says that learning is something very different from what is described in other theories. This is one reason we say connectivism is a learning theory: the vocabulary of learning it employs is in some ways importantly incommensurate with that of other theories.

When I say of connectivism that 'learning is the formation of connections in a network' I mean this quite literally. The sort of connections I refer to are between entities (or, more formally, 'nodes'). They are not (for example) conceptual connections in a concept map. A connection is not a logical relation. It is something quite distinct.

In particular, I define a connection as follows (other accounts may vary): "A connection exists between two entities when a change of state in one entity can cause or result in a change of state in the second entity."

Why is this important? Because it captures the idea that connections are something that we can observe and measure (they're not a black box), and because it captures the idea that networks are not merely structures, but also that they enable (what might be called) signalling between entities.

How Does Learning Occur?

The question of how learning occurs is therefore the question of how connections are formed between entities in a network. There is a deep and rich literature on this topic, under the heading of (not surprisingly) 'learning theory', though most of it is published outside the domain of education. The first chapter available here provides a good overview.

The literature describes either actual networks of neurons ('neural networks', such as human or animal brains) or simulations of these networks ('artificial neural networks'), which are created using computers. In both cases, these networks 'learn' by automatically adjusting the set of connections between individual neurons or nodes.

This is a very different model of learning from that proposed by other learning theories.
  • In behaviourism, learning takes place through operant conditioning, where the learner is presented with rewards and consequences.
  • In instructivism, the transfer of knowledge takes place through memorization and rote. This is essentially a process of presentation and testing.
  • In constructivism, there is no single theory describing how the construction of models and representations happens - the theory is essentially the proposition that, given the right circumstances, construction will occur.

To be fair, a long discussion here would be required to talk about constructivist accounts of model or representation formation. This is a weakness of constructivist theories - there's no particular means to determine which constructivist theory is actually correct.

And this points to an underlying weakness of all three approaches: they all involves, ultimately, some sort of black box beyond which no further explanation can be provided. How does reward stimulate behaviour? How is transferred information stored in the brain? What is a model and how is it created?

In my talks I've presented four major categories of learning theory which describe, specifically and without black boxes, how connections are formed between entities in a network:
  • Hebbian rules - 'what fires together wires together' - neurons that frequently share the same state then to form connections between each other
  • Contiguity - neurons that are located near to each other tend to form connections, creatinhg a clustering effect
  • Back Propagation - signals sent in reverse direction through a network, aka 'feedback', modify connections created by forward propagated signals
  • Boltzmann - networks seek to attain the lowest level of kinetic energy 
The actual physical descriptions of these theories vary from network to network - in human neurons, it's a set of electrical-chemical reactions, in social networks, it's communications between individual people, on computer networks it's variable values sent to logical objects.

These are the actual learning theories. Connectivism essentially collects these theories together into a single package as a mechanism for explaining how connections are formed in a network.

Building on the Theory

These are the foundations of connectivism as a learning theory.

As you can see, it has nothing to do with 'looking up the answer on Google' or any of the surface characteristics commonly associated with it.

A connectivist view of the world is very different from one found in other theories.

For example, to the question what is knowledge a connectivist will talk about the capacity of a network to recognize phenomena based on partial information, a common property of neural networks.

Connectivism proposes therefore what might be called 'direct knowledge', following the work of people such as J.J. Gibson. This is very different from what might be called 'indirect knowledge', which is based on the creation of models or representations using an internal (and possible innate) language or logic.

Consequently, a connectivist account of literacy will be very different from that found in other theories. These theories are essentially language-based and are concerned with the coding and decoding of information in such a language. Major principles will revolve around syntax (aka grammar) and meaning and truth (aka semantics).

A connectivist account of literacy reinterprets both syntax and semantics, looking well beyond rules and meaning. In my 'Speaking in LOLcats' presentation, I propose a six-element connectivist account of literacy, one that also includes elements of cognition, context and change.

Additionally, the question of how we evaluate learning in connectivism is very different. Rather than focus on rote response, or on manipulations inside a model, a connectivist model of evaluation involves the recognition of expertise by other participants inside the network.

In connectivism, the principles of quality educational design are based on the properties of networks that effectively respond to, and recognize, phenomena in the environment.In various works, I have identified these as autonomy, diversity, openness, and interactivity. These are very different from standard accounts of quality.

With each of these aspects of connectivism being identified and developed, it becomes increasingly apparent that a connectivist sees learning very differently from those who follow other theories.

They see a person learning as a self-managed and autonomous seeker of opportunities to create, interact and have new experiences, where learning is not the accumulation of more and more facts or memories, but the ongoing development of a richer and richer neural tapestry.

They understand that the essential purpose of education and teaching is not to produce some set of core knowledge in a person, but rather to create the conditions in which a person can become an accomplished and motivated learner in their own right.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

OLDaily Over the Years

Still messing around with statistics. Here's the graph of the production of posts on OLDaily over the years since the first posts in 1995:

Until 1999 the only posts produced are my articles. Subsequently, as I began the newsletter, the posts include the now-familiar links to resources in OLDaily. The red line represents the total, the blue line represents the daily tally. Notice the flat line where I took a hiatus in 2006. You can also see a bump in 2001. This was from a short period where I experimented with post-creation using the harvester.

Here's the same blue line with a somewhat larger y-axis:

Here again you can see my harvester experiments in 2001 (reaching a peak of 162 posts created on September 22, 2001). But even then, most of my posts were created manually, and sometimes I created a large number of them. I actually remember the very full days back in 2001, and in particular one huge newsletter I created from a cybercafé in Cronulla, Australia. Most of the links from that newsletter no longer exist.

Here's the graph of the persons who have signed up on OLDaily over the years. As you can see, my email subscriptions started in 2001 (that's why when I'm asked when I started, I give one of two dates, either 1995, or 2001).

This chart needs a little explanation. There are 1480 people without a start date. This reflects a period between 2006 and 2008 when the person-record creation date was not being logged. That's why you have the flat line during that period. So the chart should start in the lower left at '0', and should reflect a gain of 1480 new subscriptions during that flat period.

It's interesting to note that while the growth in sign-ups has never been exponential, it has never really slowed down, either.

Subscriptions are a different story. People come, people go, and a lot of people cancel their subscription and move to RSS. Here's what my subscriptions look like over the years:

This one's a bit harder to figure out. There's no good reason for the jump in subscriptions in 2007 (except that maybe I came back from my hiatus in 2006 writing slightly longer and opinionated posts - though the same data suggest that people soon tired of the new format).

I don't have good page view history through the years, mostly because my log files have always rotated and I haven't been diligent about keeping statistics. But here are stats for 2012 showing 2.2 million page reads and 774K visits, and here are stats for 2013 showing 5 million page reads and 1.13 million visits.

Meanwhile, in case you're curious, the states for this blog, Half an Hour, as volunteered by Google are as follows:

I'm not sure whether we learn anything from these results, other than that persistence pays, but it's interesting to observe them just the same.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Measuring MOOC Media

Here's the information I sent Steve Kolowich for his Chronicle article on the (possible?) decline of MOOC mentions in the media:

My data measures news articles from selected (and reasonably representative) sources (including Google News) and counts instances of the term ‘MOOC’ in title or descriptions. It is essentially the number of items published each day in the newsletter (filtered to remove duplicate listings).

Based on this data, I would say that MOOC coverage has not flagged significantly in the last few weeks or months.

I’ve revised the algorithm a bit to make it more accurate, and also the list of feeds.

New chart:

List of Feeds: (The bulk of results come from the Google news feed)
Can be found here:

@Ignatia Webs (mobile;eLearning;mobile learning;education;mLearning;mooc;conferences;research;social media;presentation;informal learning;book)
Abject (edubloggers)
AddGab (category)
bavatuesdays (edubloggers)
Brainstorm in Progress (buddhism;Rory;Zemanta;Plurk;China;Homer;visuallearning;community;Social justice;csubioeacademy;analytics;Interaction;Brigham Yo)
Center4Edupunx (edubloggers)
Computing Education Blog (edubloggers)
Connectivism | (edubloggers)
Coordination Régionale de la FC Universitaire (category)
coursera - Google News (edubloggers)
Dave's Educational Blog (edubloggers)
daybydaylinux (category)
D’Arcy Norman dot net (edubloggers)
Digital Humanities Now (edubloggers)
e-Literate (edubloggers)
elearnspace (edubloggers)
Hack Education (edubloggers)
Hybrid Pedagogy (edubloggers)
Inside Higher Ed | News (edubloggers)
Leading From the Inside Out (category)
mooc - Google News (edubloggers)
My old blog (In Spanish) (category)
My site (category)
Notes on MOOC Lectures (category)
Official WizIQ Teach Blog (edubloggers)
Open Culture (category)
open thinking (edubloggers)
osvaldo rodriguez (#lak12;research.;education;research;elearning.;distance education;#oped12;#change11;connectivism)
Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning (edubloggers)
Recent content (edubloggers)
Stephen's Web ~ OLDaily (edubloggers)
Teaching and Learning Institute (edubloggers)
The corridor of uncertainty (student recruitment;tools;multitasking;books;collaboration;free;digital divide;MOOC;privacy;art;peer learning;mobility;safety;l)
the theoryblog (edubloggers)
Tony Bates (edubloggers)
Unizor (category)
Unizor - Creative Mind through Art of Mathematics (category)
unmaestrocreativo (category)

Filtered as follows:
SELECT link_crdate,link_title,link_link FROM link WHERE (link_title LIKE '%MOOC%' OR link_description LIKE '%MOOC%'

Update - April 15, 2004 - From Twitter

Google's record of search volumes would suggest a growing public interest in MOOCs

Friday, April 11, 2014

MOOCs for Development - Day 2

The Challenge of MOOCs Panel

Stephen Downes

Please see my presentation and audio here:

N.V. Varghese

- view from developing countries
    - largest expansion of the system in this century
    - did not rely on public resources at all - shows willingness to pay
    - GER (gross educational? resources) disparity worldwide
    - OECD countries universalized higher ed, but developing countries still in an elite system
    - social demand far outstrips brick-and-mortar solutions

- can MOOCs address this?
    - enormous potential
    - Tsinghua (#1 in BRICs) created a consortium of leading universities to teach Mandarin
    - IIT in India relies on MOOCs for skills in IT sector
    - 330 million in India will have Internet in 2015

    - technology and infrastructure
    - language constraint - courses are in English
Who benefits?
    - mostly the elite - already have degrees (80%)
    - they are proficient in English, they are employed, they're not looking for a degree

So - MOOCs serve privileged students, not a reliable way to increase equivalent access to higher education
    - private institutions and commercial interest in MOOCs
    - are the MOOCs taking all the money?
    - MOOCs give them a way to feel like they are contributing even if they aren't
    - disparities in access are getting narrowed, but disparities in achievement are not
    - argument that MOOCs are widening the disparities
    - propose partnering with existing institutions as an initial step to make them more
        widespread in developing countries

Russell Beale - The MOOCs Challenge - FutureLearn / U of Birmingham
    - inspire learning for life by telling stories, celebrating progress
    - nothing has more potential than MOOCs - range of views from sceptics to advocates
    - challenges:

        - MOOC 1.0 to MOOC 2.0
            - not just putting materials online
            - MOOCs 2.0 - more social, learning for life (SD- note that this was part of original vision)
            - activity feed, social network ethos
            - based on empowering not just learners but also educators

        - pedagogy of the massive
            - basically a social constructivist approach
            - we want educators to engage with learners
            - go beyond what we currently know - invent new pedagogical approaches
            - we don't think completion is a sensible metric
            - peer review, peer assessment, that will work on a massive scale
            - (yet!) - exams, statements of participation

        - mobile first
            - responsive design - apps for specific things, aware of bandwidth       

        - delightful user interface
            - we are competing with people causally watching TV, watching cat videos
            - this might not be the same in the developing world
            - still, UI is important - but this is very hard to do
            - can do without it, but makes it more engaging

        - insightful analytics
            - transactional analytics - who viewed what
            - interactions - how did people work through the people
            - conversational - who did they talk with, what did they say

    - "unlike Stephen, we do have courses and we do have course structure, and students seem to like that"
        - long lectures don't work
        - shorter videos are more engaging
            - eg by identifying when and where and how people view videos
            - eg. we can show people like the ebb and flow of the course
        - various other statistics from FutureLearn
            - eg. 34% are social learners - contributing to discussions
        - we can understand the learning design (eg., paragraph from Halmlet)
            - 23% would write their contribution only after reading the other discussions first
        - in general the feedback is good - 90% would recommend FutureLearn to other people

- we could have both - we could have he massive courses, plus we could have the community-based courses
    - but what is happening now? there is this fear that the big boys will drive everybody out
- for Russell Beale - are your users also young, male, highly educated
- if your model stopped unless you reached the developing world what would you do
    - you have to have equal inputs to achieve equal outputs
- MOOCs may enlarge the gap within developing countries
    - many people at the bottom do not have the access to connect
    - MOOCs - not just going to be superprofessors - if open for personalized teaching could be good
        - but remember MOOCs 1.0 are just eBooks
        - when MOOCs are combined with local prrofessors the learning can happen locally
- celebrating the movement from knowledge transfer to knowledge exchange
    - what can technology to to support deeper learning and mastery
- issue of language, culture, local anchoring of education
    - education was once nation-building, today it is future-building
    - isn't this calling for a new kind of partnership - between local learning forces & universities
        (SD - Triad Model)
- have MOOCs been crowdsourcing funding?

- SD - elites?
    - view of the elite swamps view of the smalls - eg. origin of MOOCs, eg. MOOCs 2.0
    - also - based on bad data - the votes of the people who already use the system
    - question of sustainability - the largest *must* create income which pushes toward a revenue model
- SD - on private participation
    - on one hand, we hear people in developing world talk about how much of their system is based
        on private enterprise
    - on the other hand, they talk about how the educational system favours only the elites

- Russell - interesting that MOOCs being promoted higher education - but concerns that they will
    displace HE are misplaced
        - the people building courses for the millions are not the people we will get the impact from
        - need a complex web of materials
        - disseminate down and outwords

- moocs will make the elites in various countries more alike, but will increase disparity
- agree with

Expanding Inclusion
Masennya Dikotla - South Africa
Why current strategies are insufficient
    - they do not meet the needs of marginalized children and youth
        - most programs function outside the mainstream, creating a second rate citizenry
        - most exclusions are based on excuses from elite groups - eg. 'we will not give you this computer system because you don't have electricity, or you don't know what to do with it, or you will just steal them' - and so they just wait
What Can be Done?
    - curriculum should meet the needs of a wide range of different learner
        - these need to be legislated
        - teaching and learning should be in first language of the learner
    - schools should accommodate all children, no matter their intellectual, social, linguistic or other conditions

Case Study - Bridges to the Future Initiative

Minghua Li - China
    - initiatuve to provide education to migrant workers in the factories sponsored by ministry of education
    - looking at how MOOCs
    - students - working in facories like foxcom (?)

    Networks of learning clusters:
        - problems: physical accessibility problems - transportation, long working days, living conditions,
        - approach - network of learning centres in close walking distance
            - to establish community college edu
            - local social sypport for learning - social learning incubator

    MOOCs come...
        - classes from all over the world
        - but do they develop the kind of courses specifically targeted to these workers
        - MOOCs can play a part - the open market concept which aims to break the monopoly on education
            - broadcast of learning not enough, we need local support - mentors, facilitators, even teachers
            - eg. 'MOOCs Inside' courses (like 'Intel Inside')   
        - also - these migrant workers also need eductational credentials

    Two-market picture of MOOCs
        - one parket it the degree market
        - a parallel independent course market
            - how do they work together? Core courses for degree + additional courses from independent
        - how do we determine MOOCs meet standards? missing point - an institution to accredit independ courses

    - currently working with a group of US community colleges to form an alliance to develop individual
        courses just to meet the standards for associate degrees

Barbara Moser-Mercer - InZone, Universite de Geneve
    - Higher Education in Emergencies - education as a humanitarian response
    - where we started - education something we impose on them as something we think they need
        - changed to blended course - we go onsite into conflict zones - in our own learning environment
        - we also need knowledge - that's what MOOCs can offer
        - but do MOOCs hold up in the fragile states we work in

    - Education in fragile states
        - contributes to political stability
        - primary & secondary education, virtually no tertiary
        - convention on refugees - Article 22

    - UNHCR - higher commission for refugees
        - has developed a new education strategy - goal of 100% access to higher edcuation
    - study of MOOCs
        - principle - you can't just do a project and extract data for your norther project
        - the recipients have to receive a benefit
        - hence, the drop-out rate isn't acceptable
            - the principles of humanitarian law say you have to get them to the finish line

    - challenges
        - tech - negotiated special deal with Coursera to download all the materials to USB keys
            - but they keys would be used as a last resort
            - most access to info from mobile phones
            - forums - basically inaccessible, too chaotic, to much data to download
        - the geography of thought
            - how people think in different cultures
                - not as a barrier, but how to leverage the learning of differnt cultures
        - the students need skills & MOOCs aren't good for that
            - but to learn skills you need knowledge, and MOOCs can help with that

Driss Ouaouicha - Al Akhawayn University, Morocco
    - anglophone university in Morocco (francophone and arabic environment)
    - weakness - mismatch between education and needs of industry
    - advantage - widespread access to mobile (& therefore internet - 52% use of internet)
    - recent conference - recommendations
        - create a National e-learning centre at the university with ministry support
        - train the trainer approach
        - use open educational resources
        - success factors: HR, technology, partnership

    - As Russell said today, the MOOCs in higher ed are an accident
        - we need to address public and secondary - esp. dropouts
        - 'second opportunity' school
        - 28% of the population are illiterate
    - we may be overestimating the power of the MOOC
        - UK person - 'a MOOC is like a book' - it's not going to solve all your problems
    - cooperation is extremely important - gap between north and south

Copyright and IP Panel

Edward Rock -  UPenn Law Professor
    Coursera / university partnership
    - question - why are you doing this - my leagl background not unimportant
        - issues around ownership of IP and copyright
    - partnerships with Coursera...
        - are non-exclusive
        - IP stays with university, content licensed to Coursera
    - necessary to negotiate ownership up front because
        - ownership may have stayed with faculty, or may have been work-for-hirre - it was unclear
        - we set up a structure to govern those questions up front
        - had to be balanced with responsibilities to paying students
        - used 'internal grants' model for most courses - around $50K / course
            - stipend, assistants, copyright, and videotaping
            - think of copyright as a publishing venture not a teaching venture
    - ownership rights, control rights, cash flow rights
        - content belongs to the faculty member, expression belongs to the university
            - faculty member licenses content to university, university licenses the videotapes
                to the faculty member - eg. university has a veto if faculty want to use a different
            - university has the right to say whether the course is offered / reoffered
            - the university could offeer the course over the objection of the faculty
                - because it needs to be economically sustainable
                - need to be able to capitalize if it makes money
                - by 3rd run, could run by itself - faculty member would get 30% share of revenue
            - university is in the position of publisher, movie studio, etc
    - course doesn't go into development without the agreement
        - but nobody is forced to develop courses through this process

Candace Reimer - Google - Learning & Development Organization
    - cloud-based open source platforms
    - Peter Norvig is on our team - shared inspiring stories
    - offered initial open online course - 157K - we saw lots of dialogue, we had TAs around the world
    - decided based on this to open-source platform - CourseBuilder
        - runs on AppEngine, ongoing deveelopments in internationalization, analytics, assessment   
    - when EdX announced open source engine, Google looked at collaborating
    Discussion of what OSS is - Google OSS these are cloud-based, though
        - anyone can be an author
        - they have full control of the course and the materials
        - they also own the relationship with the student, own the data, own the brand
        - allow course design, customized features, reasearch and community

        - is the authorship open or closed
        - do you want hosted or unhosted

Maureen McClure - Uni Pittsburgh
    - who owns development? MOOCs in a wicked world
    - how can we start thinking about these issues in a way that fits development?
        - issues become very complex in a hurry (so we need expensive lawyers)
        - who owns development? the authors? the investors? the affected?
        - authorship can address moral rights (in perpetuity)

    - question: elite education+ cooperative extension = strategy for development?
    - elite education - experts/authors as doctors, solving the 'knowns'
    - cooperative - we're neighbours, articipation and buy-in necessary

    - the Global Generation
        - development is a generational; responsibility to protect the future's sustainability
        - like radio, TV, MOOCs can impact millions
        - don't want to show up with tech and not address core issues

    - elite education is...
        - radically convenient, no loose ends
        - licensing, export controls, etc., all managed for you
        - they tend to track telecom & engineering schools
        - support national certification efforts
        - can negotiate permanent access to OERs

    - cooperative extension models...
        - stay close to local
        - promote OERs
        - non-forma;l and co-created - sidestep copyright issues
        - can generate a national voice (eg FutureLearn - choice of national cultural institutions)

    - Contexts matter...
        - critical thinking for both employbility and governance
        - more focus on international credit for mobility
        - UNESCO can help address international copyrights
        - Explore 'American Corner' or 'British Council' models
        - do not succumb to conference fever
        - is tech culture an invasive species
        - Putnam Bowling Alone
    - two generations of MOOCs
        - democratization of content
        - second generation - cMOOCs - democratization of platforms

    - licensing - any time a lot of money is at stake its a huge political issues
    - licensing and silos?
        - Coursera not open source,
            - universities could make content open course but all of us have chosen not to
            - on the other hand - the iTunes threat - hence the need to keep control over the IP
            - sensitivity to platform dependence - esp. eg. Stanford using multi platforms
            - UPenn not keen to have professors teach at other institutions
        - Google - not trying to break down silos
            - no-one has the answers right now - interested in lots of answers right now
            - area where there can be a lot of discussion
            - Q - what about G+ being locked down? No response - "I can't talk about those aspects"
        - issue of the right to earn money vs an obligation to protect the next generations

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Notes from: MOOCs for Development

Welcoming Intro Ezekiel Emmanuel

- MOOCs 'democratizing' education? (vs? 'socializing')
    - but - access, language, etc

- MOOCs - equalize opportunity for elites in developing countries
    - may widen inequality in developing countries - more for elites, nothing for the rest
   - issues of quality - eg. issue of keeping them engaged etc

- how do get the value to people in the bottom third?
- how do we ensure the materials are genuinely educational

- all this from the context of video production
    - we have no idea how th economics of this will work

Andy Porter - Dean of the Graduate School of Education

    - Zeke brings up the problem of 'the rich get richer'
        - advances in learning tend to create wider gaps
        - how can we use MOOCs to reduce inequalities

    - the challenges don't have to be challenges
        - they don't have to be in English, they don't have to require high reading skills
        - we need to look at 'what is excellence in online teaching'

The Advent of MOOCs panel session

Abdul Wahid Khan IGNOU

    - MOOCs - recent, buzzword, etc - critics call it a fad, hype, etc.
    - my bias - MOOCs have a contribution to make, but there are reasons to be careful
        - MOOCs essentially a response to the emerging knowledge society - the value of knowledge increases
        - people used to value wealth but now they value knowledge
    - poor man's version of MOOCs
        - mssive - nobody has defined this;
        - open - a new phenomenon;
        - online - this is where I deviate - in my time we had 'on air' for farmers
            - eg. in support of Green Revolution in India - to address gap between the land and the lab
            - radio + printed support system - has been running for 35 years
            - what is the difference? It targeted a local problem, in a local language, multi-sakeholder, blended learning
    - it is not technology that should determine learning, it should be the learning that determines the tech
        - eg. MOOCs in Bengali, in Hindi, etc
        - you don't want to put a current evaluation against the potential of the technology
        - what made IGNOU possible?
            - massive unmet demand,
            - plus, we began to develop programs that meet the needs of industry
            - encouraged active partnership between public and private sector (eg. 3,500 private sector learning facilities)
        - technology can bring a multiplier effect, but the technology per se is not the action

Bakary Diallo - Rector, AVU

    - pragmatism before popularity - it's hard to make a decision before you know what the future is
        - that said, MOOCs make sense for us in the context of higher ed in Africa
    - the biggest problem in Africa is access
        - need min 12-15 graduates from tertiary education to sustain development
        - so eg. video not currently practical
        - exploring solar power, fibre-optics, etc
    - e-learning is a viable and profitable business in Africa, which is evidence it works
        - 75% of AVU's activity devoted to capacity-building
    - OERs - the fact that the resources are open makes a big difference
        - but how to capitalize on this?
        - additional problem of accreditation - need programs, not courses (MOOPs)
    - Objectives
        - form institutional partnerships
        - develop infrastructure adapted to the African context

Mikala Petoki - EPFL - Luasanne

    - MOOCs - in a normal hype cycle
    - future - multiple forms, different blends, features for specific user groups, business models
        - outlook - here to stay
    - key ingredients:  great offering; tech, data, visualizations; know learning more
    - the user at the center - this is about people this is about individuals
        - and the user is not like me
    - the question is - how do we serve *people* in resource-poor communities
        - and how do we serve each of them in the right way
    - opportunities:
        - dissemination - bandwidth, language, and blended configurations
            - eg. EPFL Flying Donkey Drone Challenge
        - academic environment
            - credit and certification, adapt governance, work on regulatory environment, multi-party initiatives
        - content development
            - students have to have the basis to comprehend, and teachers are still at the centre of videos
        - harnessing networks - eg. French-language networks

How does existing technology help MOOCs be localized and learner-centred?
    - intended for massive numbers, but doesn't prevent designing programs for the needs of a specific group
    - add that the blend no matter where allows for a collective learning experience
    - what kind of pedagogy? there is none - it's up to you - there is no pedagogy in traditional university
        - IGNOU - many students appear in competitive exams - even from traditional institutions - using IGNOU materials
        - AVU has two courses for lecturers addressing these issues

Costs & Benefits of MOOCs

Clara Ng - Coursera

    - model - what are the costs, and what are the opportunities that offset them
        - universities - costs (course production $50L-$200K) plus faculty time (400 hrs median)
        - learners - mostly costs time, as MOOCs are mostly free
    - sustainable ecosystem requires understanding of value creation
        - cycle where universities create value for students, students create value for universities
        - Coursera value for students: the education, which we provide for free, and the credentials, which we earn revenue
            - identity-verified certificate - using photos and biometric assessment of typing pattern
            - certificate track - $30-$100/course - averaging 1.2% conversion up to current avg of 2.4%
                - driven by demand from employers
                - also driven by improvements to user interface
            - total $4M revenue thus far
    - specializations - sequence of courses
    - project-based learning - social impact (Scott Plous, Wesleyan Uni) - contest (how to live compassionately for 24 hours)
    - value for learners
        - free courses
        - translated content
        - mobile access
        - social learning and community building

Michele Rimini - OECD

    - economic models
    - OECD's ambition to become a 'Global Inclusive Policy Network'
        - aid assistance
        - OECD strategy for development
            - small-set of global goals, evidence-based policy
            - PISA for development - universal method for measuring educational success
        - knowledge for inclusive innovation and development
            -evidence on impacts of innovation
    - CERI (Center for Educational Research and Innovation)
        - research on evidence-base of OER - 'Giving Knowledge for Free'
        - future work on Open Higher Education (OERs and MOOCs)
        - (definitions, MOOCs and OERs)
    - differences between MOOCs and OERs
        - license, OERs open, MOOCs usually copyright
        - length: OERs any length, MOOCs full course
        - OERs mainly for teachers, MOOCs mainly for students
        - OERs flexible, MOOCs rigid
    - business models
        - donations - private funding, public funding, VC funding
        - institutional enlargement - eg. MIT's OCW, EdX
        - freemium - content for free, market prices for premium services
        - advertising, sale of personal information
        - professional training, courses licensed for training needs
Juliana Guaqueta - International Finance Corporation (World Bank)

    - to help private entities develop jobs, tax revenues, etc
    - huge growth of private institutions - a piece of the equation worth supporting, much more effective
    - strategy - increase reach and impact - systemic approach, develop skills & enhance employability
    - 50% of what we do is in Latin America, because theire governments are more open to private sector participation
    - gaps in access to education
    - organizational types of MOOCs
        - private for-profit (Coursera, Udemy)
        - university consortium (EdX, FutureLearn)
        - government-sponsored (FUN/France)
    - Business models
        - B2C space - fee that students pay (eg Udemy, fee set by instructors, Coursera, fee for certificate)
        - B2B side - employee training, philanthropy, data analytics, licensing fees, academic programs online
    - IFC's thinking - emerging market take-up, key enrollment driver, exist
        - dev impact: access to HE alternatives, employability and LLL, increase knowledge base, innovation in education

- Question of whether education is a public good or not
    - concern that education has become a public good without public support
    - cost of production is high, but the market is based on the low cost of reproduction
        - concern about how to generate revenue - where does public funding come from
        - beyond this question: the practical question is, what sort of business models are we comfortable implementing
        - costs of rerunning courses are low, so we encourage institutions to rerun the course
        - knowledge is more and more more commoditized
            - but the resources will never replace full-fledged education, but somebody has to pay
    - (I'm from MIT) - my courses are on OCW, the costs of keeping OCW going are well beyond those of the first foundations
    - (OAS) - facilitated teacher education - we are really lagging behind compared to OECD countries
        - is theer a model in a developing country doing PD for teachers
    - what's the revenue-share between Coursera & Universities? - 15% going to university

Cooperative Model?
    - is really present in OER - OER does not need to find a sustainable business model, just needs a value network
Tracking how learners learn in different contexts

MOOCs and International Development

Papa Youga Dieng - OIF

    - overview of Organisastion internationale de la francophonie
        - strategic plan 2005-2015 - support for education
        - projects -
    Issues and perspectives
        - shortage of qualified teachers - between 40% - 60% in many African countries
        - Low access to electricity and connectivity in poor countries
            - MOOCs support professional development
            - MOOCs for crosscutting issues
            - can generte OERs to be disseminated by paper, radio, etc
    - recommendations
        - increase access to technology
        - build capacity in universities and teacher colleges
        - explore mobile technology and alt energy

Sandra Klopper - University of Cape Town

    - can speak of Anglophone but not francophone Africa
    - Africans are consumers rather than producers of MOOCs
        - from Africa material is produced that goes into others' MOOCs
    - MOOCs and development challenges in Africa - other priorities
        - showcase African knowledge and expertise
        - resource, social and development initiatives in Africa
    - Resource implications in the development of MOOCs
        - major costs, expertise required - cf University of London report on mOOCs
        - governance and strategy

Steven Duggan - Microsoft

 - how do we deliver personalized learning
    - Do your students like school? mostly - 'no'
        - the current modalities are failing everyone
    - tech - Khan reached 216M students with 36 teachers
    - the ability to learn doesn't just appear with availability
    - modern schools: need to teach collaboration, communiocation, problem solving
    - show don't tell (then he plays a video)
    - new forms of learning need new forms of measurement
    - what are the big challenges in education?
        - #1 - literacy - we need books, readers, coaches, etc.,
        - there are 7K languages, most of which have < 100K speakers
        - almost a third of illiterate students live in illiterate homes
    - MS - has created free tools -
        - anyone can create a book with text, images and audio
        - can be distributed on smart phones (16K texts on a phone)
        - we can provide assessment, because we know when they have finished a book
    - what does success look like?
        - the class of the future won't look like a space age class of today
        - the classroom is a recent inveention
        - what we will have before that class will look more like apprenticeship
        - personal learning - but this has to be available to both developing & developed would


- 20 years for now - the need for higher ed people will double, the need for teachers will tripple

- what is success - students success in life, in employment, in (?)

- the need to keep teachers in the loop, to keep parents in the loop
    - response (Duggan) the point isn't to replace teachers or schools
    - (Dieng) problem of teachers without training, and low pay for teachers
        - also - even if tech isn't essential for training, it creates incentive

- the notion of democratic MOOCs

- how to balance effective MOOC vs sustainability issue
    - (Duggan) the key issue is how to create more content
    - (echo of same comment from Udemy)
    - the question of what there is to learn from these communities

- copyright and content issues - and support for open licensing

Surprises - Economic Models

    - we didn't hear about the institutional impact of MOOCs
    - no space around the ethical dimension
    - missing in business models session - link to developing countries
    - missing - division between public & private universities
    - maybe more of a stakeholder analysis - but with a comparison between drivers
    - looking at institutional involvement - to what end?
    - what does 'free' mean - not just access, but price, and participattion

        - MOOCs, ODLs
    - no discussion of the flipped classroom model


    - 'democratization' - getting people into jobs, etc (India - 500 million people need employment skills)
        - question of how much is a production problem and how much is a distribution problem

    - how much of this economy depends on creating scarcities rather than responding to them
        - issues of licensing
        - 'giving knowledge for free' vs 'creating knowledge'

    - democratic MOOCs - vs? what leads us closer to meeting needs of developing world

    - & education isn't a 'delivery problem' so much as a creation problem
        - we need to get away from delivering learning

    - what is 'massive' - group vs individuals vs network
    - what is 'success' - able to do vs able to know (direct challenge to PISA)
    - connectivist model - linking community & OERs
    - community-based economic model
        - the hard part isn't creating content,

No society has ever been built on the sale of education
No society has ever been built without education

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The MOOC of One

I want to talk about the MOOC of one. What I mean by that is I want to talk about the development of the MOOC or the Massive Open Online Course. I'm one of the people who designed the concept originally in 2008. I want to explain myself so that you know what we did and why we did it. And I want to lead into a discussion of what will follow, what the next generation technology will be to follow after the MOOC.
I want to do a bit more than that. I want to begin this conference challenging you to rethink some of your perceptions about what it is to teach, what it is that an education is supposed to provide. We have this picture in our mind that an education is to shape or to transform, or in some way make somebody something, whether that somebody be a doctor, whether that somebody be a responsible member of society, whether that somebody be employed or an entrepreneur.
I want to begin by asking the question, "What does it mean to be one person?" What does it mean to be, say, Valencian? What does it mean to be a doctor? We have this intuitive idea that we think we understand when we begin to educate someone, we're going to make somebody a doctor, but what does that mean? I'm not sure we even know, and a major part of the reason we developed the MOOC is to challenge our thinking around some of these ideas.
In the traditional course, and that includes the traditional online course as well as the traditional offline course in traditional education (Pape talked about it as well) we have this idea that there is the authority at the center who will throw content at you - lots of content, piles of books, piles of video, and hope some of it sticks.
Even the MOOCs, the Massive Open Online Courses, that have followed the MOOCs that were developed by George Siemens and myself, the courses offered by Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, and the rest are all based on the idea of some body of content.
Is being one being the same? That's kind of a hard question. It's not even clear what I mean when I ask that. Let's take doctors. Does being a doctor mean having exactly the same knowledge as every other doctor? No.
Pape told us quite reasonably, different people work in different contexts. If they all had the same knowledge they might be useful in one place, perhaps New York General Hospital, but not useful in another place like Moncton General Hospital where I live.
Two contexts, two ideas of doctor. Just throwing content at people, cannot be sufficient to create doctors. It's the same with being a Valencian, or being a pine tree, or being anything else. It's not just being the same thing. Is everybody in Valencia the same? As I walked all around the city yesterday, I can tell you they are not!
What is it to be a Valencian? Think about that. If we're trying to promote cultural awareness say, "What does that mean? Do you have everybody memorize the Valencia song?" No. George Siemens and I created the MOOC, the Massive Open Online Course, to challenge some of these ideas.
People often ask us, "What do you mean by MOOC?" We say, "Well, Massive Open Online Course." They say, "No. What do you mean by MOOC?" 
What I mean is massive, not massive in the sense that we saying not or that we reach 1,000, 10,000, 1 million people. Anything can be massive in that way. Sea weed is massive in that way. What I mean is massive by design, massive in the sense that it can continue to scale without losing its essential shape.
In a typical course, the more you scale, the more you begin to depend on the central professor, the more elevated the central professor gets, and at some point, you have this iconic figure at the front of the room talking to all the masses. That becomes something very different from education where it was just and your friends figuring out how to put a truck together.
Education changes. Traditional education changes when you make it massive. We wanted to design a system that could scale without changing the nature of learning.
Open, by open, we meant free, gratis, en français and libre. Free as in beer, free as in open, free as in the doors aren't closed. Free, as in you can do what you want with it.
By online, we meant online. The reason why we meant online is because we understood that if we required somebody to actually physically attend our classroom, people in Africa, and people in India, and people in Europe would not be able to take their course, and we wanted them to.
And course is certainly an odd thing, but a course is something really, very simple. A course is something that begins, something that ends, something that has a topic, and that's about it. You might ask, "Well, why courses? Why not communities, video collections or whatever?"
We wanted to have something small that you can involve yourself in without committing yourself to for the rest of your life. You join a community, you're stuck with it, but the course, you have the happy knowledge that eventually this course will end, and you're out of it.
This is what our Massive Open Online Course looks like. Our Massive Open Online Course has a little website in the middle, but mostly what the Massive Open Online Course is about is the set of interactions between the participants.
What we've done, very deliberately, in our open online courses, is to create this kind of network structure, so that the promotion of information, the distribution of content, is a very, very minimal part of what the online course is.
We've done a number of courses in this model. We began with the course called 'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2008,' and that's popularly known as the first MOOC. It became massive only by accident. We set it up, we expected about 22 students. We got about 2,200 students. We were very surprised by this, particularly since the topic isn't exactly widely popular. 'Connectivism and Connective Knowledge' who signs up for that? Artificial intelligence, yeah, I can get that.
We did more courses. We did one called "Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge," PLENK. George named that course. I had nothing to do with it (the name). We had a 30‑week marathon course called "Change," in which we learned that 30 weeks is too long to have a Massive Open Online Course. We had one on the future of higher education. We did that one with the Chronicle of Education, EDUCAUSE and the Gates Foundation. That was very short course. It was over before it even started.
Right now we've just, in the past week, launched a course in French, a French language course called REL, Ressources Educatives Libres, Open Educational Resources 2014. We have about 1,000 people attending this course.
We've got some experience behind this. We're beginning to figure out what it is that makes a MOOC work, what it is that makes a MOOC not work. We've applied these lessons to open online learning generally.
One of the things I've learned to expect in the first weeks of every single course that we offer are complaints. So many complaints the first week.
"Reading this course is like reading a dictionary," they say. Or there's always someone, "I can't find anything. Where's the nice, easy navigation?" Or there's always someone, "I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do. I don't know what to do. Tell me what to do."
Always people complaining. "There's too much content to read." I say, "Well, pick something then, and read that." "Just pick something." "No..."
In a sense, I don't blame them. I get it. It's confusing. It's hard. It's awkward. It would be so nice if we just gave you a series of videos and told you "Follow this path. Do this thing. This is the process. That's what we all want."
Instead we give them this. Look at that mess. That's the course we designed out of the box, and then we told our students ‑‑ our participants, as I prefer to call them ‑‑ to take that, and add on to that, however they wanted.
We did not want to tell them what to do. We had people create groups in Second Life. This was back in 2008. Second Life was still a thing. We had people create Google Groups in the REL course. That's happening right now. There are Google Groups set up. There's a Facebook group that's set up. There's a Twitter hashtag that people follow.
People spin off and create their own communities, their own version of this course. I try to convince Robert, who's my partner, Robert Gregoire, in presenting this course: people never go to the website. And it's true. They don't go to the website. They're too busy taking the course to go to the website.
People want process. Let's think about that. Is that how we become 'one'? Is that how we become a doctor? If we do the right things in the right order, that will make us a doctor. Does that seem right?
There's a whole school of thought, or multiple schools of thought, out there in the world. In the history of philosophy, different ways of defining identity. Operational. You are such‑and‑such if you do this kind of operation in this way.
Telephone operators are like that. I guess they don't do that anymore, but there used to be people in telephone offices that connected lines for you. They did everything very precisely, in the right way. I'm showing my age here.
Sometimes people define somebody in terms of the function or the purpose or the similarity of method that they use. We wonder is that what we mean. Is a doctor just a person who does things in the doctor method?
No. Not really. That's not really what we're training them to be. So there's got to be something more to learning to be a doctor than just serving the right function.
What about teleological? We hear this a lot. The course should have objectives, and if you satisfy those objectives, you will thereby have become a doctor or a Valencian or a pine tree or whatever.
But that doesn't work either. You can have all the objectives in the world, but still not be the thing that you wanted to be. Why not?
Philosophers have worried about this long before I have. There's a guy call Thomas Nagel. He looked at theories of identity based on operation, or function, or objective, or goal. He said, "These are empty because they miss the aspect of what it feels like."
I think that's pretty important. To be a Valencian is to feel like a Valencian. Isn't it? I don't really know what that feels like, because I know I'm not one.
He wrote a paper, Nagel did, called "What Is It Like To Be a Bat?" That's really interesting because we could do everything a bat does and still not know what it's like to be a bat, because there's a certain sense in which it feels like something to be a bat.
There's a whole basis for definitions of educational method based on feel like this. It's the idea of creating the experience of being such‑and‑such. You want to teach somebody to be a doctor? You create the experience of being a doctor. You want someone to be an entrepreneur? You create the experience of being an entrepreneur, very much like what we just heard.
There's a lot of merit and a lot of validity to that. This is where we see theories like discovery learning and experiential learning coming into play. I happen to think there's a lot to the idea of having the experience.
Thomas Kuhn ‑‑ who wrote "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" ‑‑ when he was asked, "What is to be a physicist?" He said, "Well, it's not knowing a whole bunch of things. It's seeing and feeling the world in a certain way. It's knowing how to answer the problems at the end of the chapter."
The problems at the end of the chapter never have anything to do with what's inside the chapter. If you've ever taken physics, you know what I mean. They're tests of a way of seeing the world, not just a reciting of facts.
What is it to create a doctor? What is it to create a Valencian? We create the experience.
I saw them doing that. In Valencia yesterday, I walked around the city, and in the air, they are throwing firecrackers and lot of firecrackers and having celebrations and eating in the sidewalk cafes in great big pans of paella. People are in the city learning what it feels like to be Valencian.
We have that aspect because it's a really important aspect in our MOOCs. The idea of creating this underlying network or layer of support that gives people the interaction and the experience that they need to have in order to feel like what it is to be such‑and‑such.
Our first course, Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2008, it was about being an educational technologist (we love recursion). We are teaching people how to be like us.
What we tried to do is create this experience and what it's like to be an educational technologist. We built the resources and we have people create their own resources. We set up this whole dynamic web.
From a provider perspective, this all makes a lot of sense. If you're seeing this from the perspective of the institution giving the learning, we're really on to something here. We have the students create content, we have students who are receiving content.
We have some course content that we're throwing into the mix. We have maybe events, recordings, all the elements there in our course of a whole community, really. Our course could be Valencia. It isn't obviously, but it could be.
All the structures are there, the experiences, the ways of speaking, the conversation with each other, the doing things, the making things, of finding your path around the city, all of that. We have created the experience of being an educational technologist. That's what we tried to do in the course.
But that's not enough. It turns out that our feelings are notoriously unreliable. I feel like I'm a doctor. I'm not. 
Think about personal identity. What makes you, you? Most people say, I feel, I have my memories. I have my thoughts, my stream of consciousness. Of course the first question that comes up is what happens to you when you're sleeping then? Where do you go? The feeling of something disappears. Our memories go away. What happens to them when we're not having them? Do they no longer exist? Simply, our sensation of the experience is not enough. We need to build more into it.
I'm glossing over a lot here. There have been over the 20th century two major approaches to this question, which I'll call 'The Big Answer' and 'The Small Answer'. Yes, I made those terms up at about 2 AM last night, and I'm very sorry. Now you know what I do the day before a talk.
The Big Answer is this. We have the experience. Think of it as a movie screen or a computer screen. It's in my head. We have the experience and what creates that experience is we turn the camera out into the world and our experience is of the world.
What we're doing as students is trying to make sense of that experience. That's an approach to education based in semiotics, in meaning, in context, in representation and it's an approach to education based on not just what we feel, but objective external fact. There is a lot of sense to it.
This is where we get things like social constructivism or even empiricism or logical positivism where there is learning. We are trying to construct, or make sense of, or make meaning out of the perceptions that we have out there of the world. That's the Big Answer.
I'm glossing over very quickly here, but this is fun.
What's the Little Answer? Instead of the camera pointing out there, you turn the camera in and point it in here. Why not? Here are our experiences. Whether we're pointed out there or pointed in here we know, we're going to see the same thing.
The littler answer is we're trying to make sense of our own awareness, our own cognition, our own understanding. The Little Answer is based on a primacy of reason, it's based on critical or digital or whatever literacy's. It's based on the idea that we can look at whatever our mental contents are and make sense of them.
Education is a process of making sense of these things. Sounds great. Social constructivism, neuro‑constructivism, it's a very popular approach to learning, so much better than dumping content on people, so much better than trying to make people just do the right functions, so much better than just experience, because now our experience has a context and a frame.
A significant part of the educational world is in agreement with this, and they have good reason to be. Frankly, this is where I think George Siemens is. George Siemens is smack dab in the middle of the Big Answer.
I think that his version of connectivism is social constructivist of some sort with a network overlay. I take it a step further, because here is my problem: there is no one to do the constructing.
Think about it. Here is my screen, here is my camera pointed out, pointing in. Who is doing the making of meaning? There isn't some other little guy looking at all my perceptions, figuring things out, because then he would have to have a camera too to look at my perceptions.
That's the problem with social constructivism. There is no constructor. There is no person other than the learner themselves to do the constructing. There is no little man, there is no camera. That picture I just gave you, the Big Answer and the Little Answer - take the camera away. There is no camera. There is no one to construct our representations for us.
Now I've just destroyed every educational theory there is, what's left? I'm very sorry about. What's left is this screen, except it's not just a screen. That's an idea from the 1,600s, this idea that there is this tabula rasa on which you have senses that make little impressions.
Actually, this is a very special kind of screen we have, which is our mind, our brain. It is in fact a self‑organizing network. Interestingly, so is Valencia, and interestingly, so is a group of crickets and indeed, pretty much any large number of things than can interact to together, are self‑organizing networks.
They are at once perceptual systems and reasoning systems. There is no constructor. The thing that has the feelings is also the thing that organizes the feelings. That makes sense doesn't it?
I know, I've got to tell you more of a story than it. I've got to prove it with numbers and logic. I've got to show you working examples. I get that. It's a half hour talk. You'd have to give me some slack.
How do these self‑organizing networks work? There are some design principles that make good ones as compared to bad ones. What's a good one, what's a bad one, we can talk about that.
In general, human neural networks, student educational experiences, the cities, ecosystems and anything else you want to create a network out of work better if they satisfy the following four criteria.
Autonomy, the individuals in the network makes their own decisions.
Diversity, being one isn't about being the same. Let me repeat. Being one isn't about being the same. Being a Valencian isn't about being the same, being a pine tree isn't about being the same, being a doctor isn't about being the same. Diversity, in fact, is what makes being doctors possible.
Interactivity, the knowledge created by a network is created by the interaction between its members and, as we would say, is emergent from its members and is not simply the propagation of one person's opinion to another, to another, to another, to another. Everybody contributes together to make knowledge.
There is no one person out there who is the person in charge of what it is to be a Valencian. This concept is ridiculous.
This is why when Pape says, everybody has something to contribute, everybody has something to contribute, because what it means to be a Valencian is determined by the totality of activities, thoughts, expressions, being of every single person in that city.
You take one person away, Valencia is different. Kind of an important realization. Your approach to learning changes when you realize that.
Finally, openness, because networks cannot work if they are closed. Networks cannot work if there are barriers to communication, if there are barriers to entry, if only some kind of messages are allowed.
These are the design principles. You don't have to like them. It's an empirical matter as to whether or not networks that have them function better. My proposition is take a bunch of networks, test them against these principles. You will find that they worked better if they're going to shape these principles. Don't trust me. Go test it.
That leads us to this concept of personal learning. What is personal learning? We talked about MOOCs, talked about it open online learning, all of that. I'm going all way from massive courses to talk about individual personal learning. Why? Because the approach of a MOOC is based on the idea that individual people as defined by that screen, that's self‑organizing screen are taking the course. This is the thing.
When we design these MOOCs, we realized every single person taking our course is going to be different. Some use Internet Explorer, some of them use Firefox, some use Opera, who knows why, some even use Safari (and nothing works in Safari! [laughter]). Different languages, different cultures. Some people want to get the knowledge, some people want to socialize, some people want to meet other people.
We had one person in our first course, the sole purpose of their membership in the course was to call George and I techno‑communists. That's what they wanted to do. That's cool. We've gave them their chance and they did that and everybody went on their way. The whole idea of the MOOCs the way we built it is based on the idea that each person is a self‑organizing, perceiving, and reasoning system of neurons (and the course as a whole each person is a self‑organizing, perceiving, and reasoning system of people).
In our MOOCs, there's no constructor of things. MOOCs (and people) are self‑organizing networks that process and organize perceptions in a natural automatic way given that they are provided proper nutrition, diversity, openness, autonomy, and the rest. 
From the student's perspective, if they're taking the MOOCs - reflect on your own experience here for a second - they're right at the center. Goodness, they might even be taking more than one MOOC at a time. From different institutions at the same time, I know it's heresy but they might be doing that. They might be communicating on WordPress or on Flickr delicious, posting videos on YouTube, but they're always at the center of their Internet sphere.
That's basically how we, in developing the next phase -  remember I promised a new technology after MOOCs - but here is what it looks like. It's really MOOCs Mark II, but now we're telling the story from the perspective, not of the education provider, but from the perspective of the individuals who are participating in the learning.
We understand that they are perceiving and reasoning self‑organizing networks. They will be coming into this with that capacity, but with those needs, and therefore what we're attempting to do, we're creating something called learning and performance support system (I'm really sorry about the name)  to provide that measure of support.
In practical concrete terms, technological terms, and I can only gloss over this at the center is a personal learning record where a person keeps their learning records and everything related to do with their learning. 
We have support for a resource repository network to access all of these resources out there in the world. A personal cloud to allow them to store their photos, videos, et cetera, wherever they want. 
A personal learning assistant (no we don't mean an iPod, no we don't mean an app) - what I mean is a way of projecting the capacities of this system of the personal learning environment and of the associated learning resources, MOOCs, et cetera into whatever environment they find themselves. Maybe it's into a mobile phone, maybe it's into a computer, maybe it's into a car. 
I like to tell the story of a fishing rod. The fishing rod is very smart. It's connected to your LPSS, to your personal learning environment, and your fishing rod would help you learn how to fish, and it will complain if you do it improperly. Fishing rods are known for having short tempers. 
And for what we call an automated competence development and recognition which is a long way for understanding and again come back to a path here. Understanding what the gaps are in our knowledge, what resources we need in order to obtain the knowledge, obtain the resources, become the kind of person we want, help us self organize into being whatever it is that we're trying to be.
There's some more organized description of the same project. The blue things there are the reserach projects that I've showed you, research repository networks, and the rest. We're working with different organizations and companies to provide extensions of the service and we're working with education providers and the rest of the Internet in order to connect up the learning resources that are available around the world, from different MOOCs and different learning providers into each individual person's personal learning environment.
So what is it to be 'one' after all that? 
In a sense, to be one is to know that you are one, to know that you're a doctor, to know that you're a Valencian. 
But what does that mean? If you look at how these self‑organizing, perceiving, reasoning networks worked, basically what they are - and I'm glossing - they're pattern recognizers. Now that's a simple two word explanation and more complex functionality, but it will do.
So, if you're Valencian (are any of you Valencian here? How many of you are Valencian? One, two, three)  you recognize that building (don't you? I assume you do because you're really a bad example if you don't) and the point here is that there isn't some sort of set of conditions, set of sameness, functionality, all that big long, long definition, et cetera. You look at the building you recognize it. How does that happen? Because you're self‑organizing, perceiving, reasoning neuro‑network is the kind of think that recognizes things. 
How does one doctor know that another person is a doctor? The doctor recognizes another doctor. To be one is to know. To know that one is a doctor, a Valencian or whatever is to recognize that they are. It's a matter of pattern recognition, a perceptual property. 
And finally to be one is to be you. Now, everybody talked about massive open online learning. I don't care about the massiveness of open online learning. It's important - that there are seven billion people in the planet, whatever we do has got to work for everyone of them - but it's only going to work for every one of them, one person at a time. There's no other way of doing it. 
 There's no other way of doing it because there's no other way that's going to be genuine. There's no other way that's going to be effective. What makes the MOOCs special is that each person taking the MOOCs makes it their own. They create and shape their own learning according to thier own needs and their own interests, their own values, their own objectives. And that to me is what learning and education is all about.
So I hope you're thinking about these things. The different ways of knowing how something is one, the different ways of knowing whether you've trained someone to be a doctor, incultured them into being a Valencian, or just persuaded them to recognize pine trees.
Think about these things as is hear the presentation and think about the views of learning in education underlying the different presentations that you'll hear over the next three days. These slides and way too many more presentations are all available on my website and I thank you for your kind and patient attention.