Stephen Downes: Connectivism, Online Learning, and the MOOC

Engaging the Audience  in a Live Online Class
Stephen Downes gave an amazing talk on June 15 as a guest speaker at the Moodle MOOC on WizIQ. Stephen spoke about connectivism, online learning, and the MOOC. The participants were very active in the chatbox and Stephen responded to the comments and questions throughout the session. There was no time for questions at the end because the session went on for almost 2 hours. The last few minutes were devoted to music and fun by Jason R. Levine, the ambassador and knowledge entertainer of WizIQ.

Connectivism, Online Learning, and the MOOC
The Moodle MOOC on WizIQ is in its 3rd week. Participants are busy collaborating on the tasks. The process of learning in teams is not easy for many especially online when there is a sense of distance and uncertainly about the task, the team members, and in many cases about being employed. Yes, many teachers in high education and in the K-12 schools feel that their jobs are on the line due to the MOOCs and to online programs. Teachers are realizing that it’s time to learn to teach online as a new career. Others are considering going into the consultancy and an online teaching business. For whatever reason, almost 2000 educators from around the globe are currently enrolled in the Moodle MOOC.

One of the requirements of the MOOC (those wishing to get a certificate of completion) is to reflect. Looking inward is an art. It requires practice to observe what is happening to use as we learn. It’s a lot easier to look outward and blame others instead. Reflecting requires a non-judgmental observation of what is. Knowing what where we are helps us look outside the box for new ways.

Here’s a reflection by one of the participants:
“Reflecting on what I’ve been experiencing these last couples of weeks, I tried to figure out what I’m doing here and why. So, I thought ‘I’m here to learn’ because I find myself teaching online. That was easy. What is more difficult, however, is what I want out of this and where I am in the whole process.

Then, after reading and watching everybody else, I realized that I’m just at the starting point. To provide my students with authentic learning experiences online, first I need to acquire the corresponding methods and skills, which is not to be taken for granted and it may not be easy at all. But then, I also need to know how to evaluate them online, which is even more difficult for me to visualize now. I’m in for a long journey… but I feel motivated, which I think is important. How do you feel about this?

What is Connectivism?
For me, Connectivism is a way of learning. I connect with others for learning. I may be teaching, but I’m still connecting for learning. I connect for learning in both my face-to-face classes and online classes. Connecting for me, means opening up to people and allowing learning to happen.

A MOOC such as the Moodle MOOC on WizIQ offers opportunities to connect with people from all over the world. As far as I’m concerned, the more people the better because there is more learning. Yes, it’s massive. Yes, it may be messy. And yes, there is uncertainty. And yes, there is vulnerability. Yes, yes, and yes…

Presentation by Stephen Downes


Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.

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