Feed on

Sui Fai John Mak responded to one of my previous posts and called it wonderful. I interpreted his comment to be empty politeness, he comes from a always-friendly-and polite culture. John answered and I have to apologize, he had arguments for his saying, he had read my post and knew the content.

The following question was about staying or leaving online or networked learning and John wrote a new post about it. He received many comments. The first comment was Ken Anderson’s ‘always that same theme, it arouses again and again’ and then

“People are attracted to MOOCs for the novelty effect, then leave when the novelty wears off.”  And John:  “Love you hypothesis, and couldn’t agree more! Should I say goodbye when the novelty wears off? Sure!”

There are many comments dealing with technology, some psychological factors (my main purpose) and implementing MOOCs.

By reading this discussion thread I became conscious about another basis of misunderstandings. When I say that I want to handle psychological factors around learning (for example MOOCs), I mean special phenomena, not what ever. John told about his spontaneous quick writing that it is normal conversation to him. Consciousness-stream, is that concept understandable in English? It comes from literature but could suit here, perhaps. Carmen Tshofen referred to Downes’ vision in her post:

“The next three generations of web and learning technology will be based on the idea of flow… Flow is when we cease to think of things like contents and communications and even people and environments as things and start thinking of them as (for lack of a better word) media – like the water in a river, like the electricity in our pipes, like the air in the sky.”

Flow in this definition means some kind conscious-stream, I suppose. So I could say that John is much better in this flow thing. I am too serious and always need same scientific concepts to link the actions. Now I am speaking about the misunderstanding which can be explained from diversity in education. I have studies psychology, John engineering. Between us are all :) possible differences: if we can understand each other, it is great. How understanding becomes true?

This is a point where I really appreciate John Mak. He is never defensive, he does not get hurt, he is strong enough to ask more details if he feels that something is unclear. This has happened many times and I enjoy it. This is also one of the main results of the article of Jenny and Carmen which I studied in my previous posts. Healthy participation of autonomous people expressing themselves openly and freely. It is the key of psychological factors (or one of the keys). The problem which is difficult to solve here is privacy demand – ethical questions while participants broke or spoil discussions (often unconsciously, not knowing their impact). I can appreciate John in public but I cannot claim anybody, only assess my own mistakes. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.

Psychological knowledge cannot be placed in Wikipedia, it needs certain thinking habits and open mind in deeper sense than copy-paste flows. These undermining differences rise to surface in discussions and often leave without confrontation. Someone tweeted some minutes ago that Twitter is good because nobody follows a troll. That is a simple solution.

Another end of this dimension (ego-centrism) could be so called ‘teflon surface people’ – nothing touches them, they participate neatly saying nothing original ever. I have empy-small-talk feelings near those people, I want to shake them. When I shake John, he answers peacefully and the discussion continues :)

How to use psychological knowledge is very complex and so are many expert domains. This is a mess. I’ve to go out and walk.



8 Responses to “Understandings and misunderstandings in MOOCs”

  1. Hi Heli,

    Thanks you so much for your serious and thoughtful consideration of the many concepts we essentially “squished” together in our paper. You have followed our pathway very closely, as we, too, struggled with the messiness of it all, and I had to do a lot of bike riding to regularly clear my head:-) I have replied to John’s post as well, but also wanted to follow up on the ideas that you describe in terms of the psychology of how people respond to each other. I do think the setting aside of ego, and well as a sophisticated sense of empathy (which often requires a very good imagination in trying to understand where other people are “coming from”), are important elements of working in such nebulous spaces with unknown others– as well as in face to face encounters, where there are still difficulties in spite of perhaps more contextual clues. One word I have found interesting in talking about how people are able to respond selectively and thoughtfully rather than reactively (and you cite John as a great example!) is “wisdom”– perhaps this is part of the psychological knowledge that cannot be placed in Wikipedia:-)

  2. Heli says:

    Thanks, Carmen. I came back from my walk and was worried about my text, will it be understood, no comments waiting. And then came yours, I can relax…
    Thoughtful responding and wisdom sound fine, I enjoy to read your English. I have often the problem to find words.

    I forgot to say that between John and me is a big difference in native languages. He has spoken Chinese (don’t remember the exact word) and my native language Finnish has nothing common to it. It is a miracle that we communicate with each other :)

  3. Ken Anderson says:

    I wonder at the difference between ‘flow’ and responding ‘reactively’.
    Are they connected, in some way? Does reading or hearing something provoke a flow of the conscious-stream? Would it be a case that some people are inhibited from permitting the individual conscious-flow to enter the social consciousness?

  4. Heli says:

    Hi Ken, I like your question and try to answer.

    FLOW in the meaning Chiksenmihaily (the guy with a difficult Hungarian name) – that flow means that artist/worker/scientist experiences that she/he is embedded in one’s action. Time disappears, mind is in very active state, concentrated. That happens seldom and not to everyone.
    In MOOCs or other internet experiences we may be in whatever state, very light surfing = reacting, using first associations and going on. Tajunnanvirta is the term I translated consciousness-stream, I don’t know is it Ok – it comes from literature (Proust).

    Yes I believe that some people are inhibited from permitting the conscious-flow to enter socially shared deeper experiences – I believe that EVERY human being knows that situation, has lived it through and some people stop sharing (after trauma) etc. Psychological phenomena are really individual and complex .

  5. Hi Heli,
    I read your post with tears, as I have been greatly humbled with your kind words, and your great sense of empathy, and so is Carmen and Ken. I didn’t know how to respond at first, but I realized that patience and most important of all, understanding about others, like you would be important before I put my thoughts into words in this comment. The concept of flow could be an important one, as I have created a few posts sharing my thoughts about it. I have also included that in my post of Creatagogy (part of the creative learning theory was created as a private post last year, and I still feel that I have to conduct more researches on it before sharing it publicly). Now I have created this post http://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/change11-cck12-creatagogy-the-basis-of-creation-of-values-education-learning-and-community/ and would like to invite you to share your views. Would you be interested in this research?

  6. Heli says:

    Good morning on Friday 17th Febr

    John, thanks for your comment, I was waiting for it but I have to sleep before it came. I was right: you are gorgeus :) I’ll read your new post today. I had to do snow work first, we have a lot of snow in Finland just now.

    Time zones could be added to the list of our differences: Finland 11 am and London 9 am – Sydney already lives evening time 20 pm and Friday has just came to Canada & Usa, Carmen and Ken are sleeping 3 am , 4 am. But this difference does not matter in asynchronous discussion around our blogs.

  7. ailsa says:

    Great post Heli, what a way with words: the shaking and politeness :)
    I would alos endorse John’s insight regarding the novelty having worn off, that’s true for me. But its also that my network has shifted, MOOCs are less necessary when i have a community of interest in twitter.
    Regards all,

  8. Heli says:

    Hi Ailsa, nice to hear from you life. I have noticed the phdchat in Twitter, I follow so many of you, blogs and tweets.
    All the best to you