Processos Pedagógicos em eLearning (PPeL) 6: Uma reflexão possível

Vivemos tempos interessantes. Nos últimos 100 anos a produção de conhecimento científico foi tão avassaladora que ultrapassou largamente a soma de todo o conhecimento científico até então produzido. Na prática, todos os campos do saber sofreram evoluções, e a educação não foi alheia a essa tendência. Ao cabo de milénios de edução baseada no paradigma da transmissão unidirecional de conhecimento do professor para o aluno, limitado pelo saber e pelos recursos a que o primeiro tinha acesso, encontramo-nos na realidade do “cérebro mundial” de Russell (Russell, 1984), na qual, por via da revolução tecnológica que levou ao desenvolvimento de tecnologias digitais cujo resultado mais ubíquo foi a Internet, passamos a ter ao nosso dispor uma quantidade avassaladora de informação e conhecimento, pelo que um novo modelo educativo se tornou absolutamente necessário.

Ao longo do último século, e em sintonia com a evolução que se ia verificando, vários modelos de abordagem educativa foram desenvolvidos, com aplicação tanto no campo da educação presencial como no da educação à distância. Todos eles, à sua maneira, responderam ao contexto em que foram desenvolvidos, tendo em conta o conhecimento e a realidade da altura. No entanto, a evolução tecnológica e social não parou, e o advento da sociedade em rede levou a que alguns desses modelos fossem considerados menos adequados a grande parte dos desafios que esta levantou. Anderson e Dron (Anderson & Dron, 2011) consideram que a educação à distância teve 3 gerações de modelos educativos, distinguíveis pelas suas abordagens pedagógicas, sendo que nos encontramos atualmente a explorar a terceira: o cognitivismo-behaviorismo, o construtivismo social e o conectivismo. Para os autores, diga-se, nenhum dos três modelos é “melhor” ou “pior” que os outros, uma vez que são abordagens pedagógicas que podem cumprir com sucesso distintas finalidades, podendo de facto coexistir.

O conectivismo, proposto por Siemes e Downes, é claramente o modelo pedagógico que mais tenta integrar o conceito de “cérebro global” na aprendizagem, dado que considera a aprendizagem como um “process of connectiong specialized nodes or information sources” (Siemens, 2005), uma abordagem que está em linha com a “sociedade em rede” que Castells (Castells, 1996) postula como sendo o paradigma social em que vivemos.

O conceito de rede é fundamental para o conectivismo. O indivíduo não é um ser isolado do que o rodeira, do outro, e o seu processo de aprendizagem é contínuo. O indivíduo faz portanto parte de uma rede que se vê a cada dia mais reforçada, de mais fácil interconexão, e tem de aprender a lidar com esta nova realidade. A rede oferece o acesso ao conhecimento, o qual também deixou de ser estático, passando a ser dinâmico e mutável. O indivíduo deve agora ser ensinado a reconhecer o valor da rede como “cérebro mundial”, como fonte de conhecimento, deve desenvolver habilidades de recolha e criação de conteúdos, de pesquisa de informação válida e relevante, de ligação a nós da rede que lhe ofereçam algo de válido e ele próprio deve interagir, enriquecer o conhecimento dos outros com o seu próprio conhecimento, com a sua criatividade. O conectivismo propõe uma abordagem nova mas que, no fundo, já estava em aplicação na aprendizagem informal, na sua experiência de todos os dias na rede. O seu grande mérito é, assim, o de sistematizar e fundamentar um modelo pedagógico baseado na concretização das experiências que o dia-a-dia já vinha confirmando como sendo adequadas e aceites, num modelo pedagógico que realmente se adequa à nova realidade e abriu portas a inovações pedagógicas importantes na educação á distância das quais os MOOC são exemplo.

Esta unidade curricular (doravante u.c.) foi leccionada pelo Professor José Mota no âmbito do primeiro semestre do Mestrado em Pedagogia do eLearning (MPeL), edição 6 (ano lectivo de 2012/2013), promovido pela Universidade Aberta.

Uma análise ao Contrato de Aprendizagem, documento orientador da u.c., diz bem da intenção de, num primeiro momento, promover uma abordagem introdutória equilibrada à temática da aprendizagem em rede, através da exploração teórica dos seus conceitos fundadores e práticas estabelecidas, e num segundo momento, já com os conceitos firmemente apreendidos, passar à prática através de dois aspetos de grande importância para a aprendizagem em rede como são os ambientes pessoais de aprendizagem (PLE) e o desenho da aprendizagem (learning desing), passando, no caso do segundo conceito, pela experiência de participação num Curso Online Aberto e Massivo (MOOC) dedicado ao tema do desenho da aprendizagem.

Na minha opinião a estrutura da u.c. foi desenvolvida de uma forma coerente e lógica, tendo estabelecido os alicerces para uma experiência de aprendizagem e crescimento pessoal bastante frutuosa. O facto de iniciar por uma abordagem teórica dos conceitos ligados à aprendizagem em rede e ter obrigado os alunos a, desde logo, procurarem recursos além dos disponibilizados pelo docente, de modo a compilar uma bibliografia comum à u.c., levou a que todos ficássemos imersos no espírito de um modelo de aprendizagem a que não estávamos habituados, mas que sabíamos ser desafiante. Creio que estive bem na escolha bibliográfica que fiz na primeira atividade, com duas referências bibliográficas relevantes sobre o conectivismo (e a sua crítica) e sobre um exemplo prático do papel do professor num curso online, mas na segunda atividade, a produção de um artefacto, não respondi a melhor forma ao desafio. O mesmo se passou, de resto, com a segunda temática da u.c., o PLE, em que as referências bibliográficas foram relevantes e mereceram a aprovação por parte do docente, mas a realização do PLE não correspondeu totalmente aos objetivos propostos. Creio que deixei um pouco a desejar nessas duas temáticas, perdi algumas décimas preciosas na avaliação.

Já na terceira temática, e tendo em conta que não possuo ainda feedback sobre o desempenho, só posso esperar que tenha sido melhor que o das dus temáticas anteriores. A participação no OLDS MOOC foi um pouco confusa, é certo, mas penso que fiz o essencial, tendo obtido os badges de 1 e 3 semanas e produzido evidências de participação. A dada altura pensei em desistir do MOOC e optar pela atividade alternativa que entretanto foi criada, mas as palavras de incentivo do Professor foram o tónico que precisava para me manter firme e combater a adversidade. No final da participação creio que posso dizer que foi uma boa experiência, pois fiquei com um conhecimento prático que ainda não tivera oportunidade de obter, tanto sobre MOOCs como sobre desenho da aprendizagem online. Esta última, como era esperado, foi de importância vital para o desenvolvimento da minha própria atividade online.

No que concerne à experiência de aprendizagem online, devo dizer que como aluno esta é a minha primeira experiência, embora seja instrutor online de Português da escola de línguas multinacional Berlitz. No entanto, aí o processo de aprendizagem é síncrono, fazendo uso de uma aplicação de uma aplicação de web conferencing (AT&T Connect). Já tinha, de facto, utilizado a plataforma Moodle, mas nunca a tinha explorado a fundo como está a acontecer neste momento. Tinha experiência em fóruns e grupos de discussão online, dado que sou utilizador assíduo da Internet desde 1997, quando iniciei a minha licenciatura, e também trabalhei como programador web. Já tinha tido oportunidade de experimentar alguns aspectos da aprendizagem formal através do iTunes U e de participar em alguns webcasts, mas de facto não sabia bem o que esperar do curso e desta u.c.. Devo dizer que o nome da u.c. em si mesmo me trazia à memória os “fantasmas” de cadeiras como “Metodologia do Ensino de (Português e Inglês)”, extremamente teóricas e nada apelativas da minha licenciatura que, na prática, se revelavam de uma utilidade no mínimo discutível, por isso foi com imenso agrado que encontrei nesta u.c. uma estrutura bem planeada com o claro objetivo de proporcionar uma experiência de aprendizagem ao mesmo tempo útil e motivadora.

 

Bibliografia

 

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. IRRODL. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/890

Castells, M., (1996, second edition, 2000). The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-22140-1.

Russel, P., (1984) The Awakening Earth: The Global Brain, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ark.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10. doi:10.1.1.87.3793

 

Thoughts on my first Massive Open Online Course ever: #OLDSMOOC

MOOCs are all the hype these days on the field of higher education. They ally the convenience and flexibility of asynchronous distance education to communication technologies that have become increasingly common all over the world, generation a new model of education that brings benefits (and disadvantages) to both learners and teachers/institutions.

Among the benefits for learners are the variety of choice (if they are fluent in English, since there English-speaking countries are the main pushers of this new model), the possibility of acquiring knowledge backed by renowned institutions (Stanford, MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, etc.) and scholars, and even get certificates, the flexibility for time management given by the fact that MOOCs don’t have “classes” in the traditional sense but provide sets of instructions for learner to develop their autonomous work and, finally, the ability to access the course everywhere in the world, which makes them a truly great education opportunity for countryside regions where higher education institutions are usually more distant, and financial benefits, since these courses are mostly free to attend but may require a small sum for the completion certificate. Another benefit for learners is the ability to liaise online with fellow learners from elsewhere, since social networking is at the core of MOOCs.

There are also benefits for scholars and institutions. Scholars can reach a larger audience (+100.000 registered students in some cases), gaining recognition for them and for the institution, these same institution can potentially cut costs by assigning less human resources to a specific course (the ration of teacher/students in traditional models is obviously narrower) and have an offering for life-long learning, the desired paradigm for the present and the future.

Nevertheless, there are disadvantages as well. MOOCs are typically fast-paced, require a lot of willingness and self-motivation from the student to keep going and may be extremely for those not very digitally literate. On average, dropout rates for MOOCs are very high (they are reported to be about 90%), and fundamentally an online course (not only MOOCs, but those in particular) requires a big effort translated in terms of workload, time management and autonomous work.

MOOCs revolve around the concepts of openness (of access, educational resources employed, collaborative work, etc., but recent MOOCs are experimenting with different approaches), personal learning environment (PLE) and connectivism. The later is a pedagogical model first proposed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2005 and postulates the learning process as a continuum of establishing connections to knowledge sources that inform the learner and gain from his/her contribution, in a process where the learner is really at the core of the process and decides what, how and when we wants to learn. That model postulates as well that in our digital society knowledge is no longer static but changes every day, and the capacity of the learner to discriminate and keep updated with the latest knowledge is of the essence. In connection to this, the learner build his/her on personal learning environment, the matrix of relationships he creates with knwoledge sources, be them people, groups, institutions, machines, etc. Hence come the MOOCs, a novel way of institutions delivering courses under the connectivist  banner.

The OLDS (Open Design Learning Studio) MOOC “Learning Design for a 21st Century Curriculum” is partially funded by JISC, a UK higher education non-governmental association, and was developed by a joint team of Professors, fellows and researchers from several British institutions. It aimed initially for a target audience of around 500-1000 learners, but the figures have been decreasing through the weeks, due to the typical MOOC dropout effect.

A lot of effort has been put on the design of the MOOC’s activities, the weekly and daily introductions are absolutely phenomenal, as well as the team’s members support. OLDS MOOC was designed as a cMOOC where the participants are active and expected to connect in groups not only on the central hub, the CloudWorks platform, but all over the world wide web.

My personal experience on OLDS MOOC was a bit mixed. Although I liked the concept, I felt lost with the pace of the activities. In my opinion they should have given more time for socializing and making groups of interest before asking for people to share their dream project, and allow for groups to present common projects. It is a bit frustrating to idealize your project and then engage in another person’s project. Even if that was the intention it was not explicitly stated, so it made people (I know I wasn’t the only one feeling this) feel uneasy and dismotivated, since those who didn’t ever had a MOOC experience were already feeling lost from the chaos of learning how to use a new tool, multiple environments to keep track of and general confusion. Adding to that, many people didn’t have the English language skills required to successfully develop a productive participation, and I bet those were the main dropout reasons.

Despite all that, I rate my participation as a positive experience. I got some valuable knowledge from the activities I engaged in. Granted, I didn’t complete hem all, but focused on the most important, landmark ones, so I was awarded the 1-week and 3-week completion badges. I wasn’t very lucky with group work, though: a group I had joined and expected to develop activities with dissolved after a while because the founder had to cease participating, and my next effort to join another group was unsuccessful due to the same reason, but in that case I decided to keep the same project going on and developed it myself. That’s why I think they should have allowed more social interaction and group-making at the beginning, even if only by starting one week earlier on the Google foruns for people to meet. Just my 2 cents.

Prototyping in #oldsmooc_w5

In the past few days I had to catch up with the activities on OLDS MOOC. I didn’t do them all, of course, but I watched the videos and skimmed past every single piece of reading available. It’s really an education to be taking this MOOC, and I’m very grateful to the organizers who put so much effort on it.

I just finished prototyping the course (ok, a module of the course,  Management 101). I think I didn’t made a bad of outlining the module with its different activities, although it may be incomplete in some ways. This is obviously a draft, no expectations of ever really doing it in the current form, so I’d be happy to have some comments. Now there’ll be only 4 more weeks till the end of the mooc, and I hope I can keep it going now that I’ve caught up :).

Slide1

Still OLDs MOOCing…

MOOCs are the hype nowadays, but I think you need to be prepared to what you’re going to find and have a grasp on the subject. I think OLDs should have had a longer time for socializing before really entering into business: I was not prepared (and I feel a lot of people more wasn’t as well) to think of a project and make / join a team in the 2 first days. In my opinion that spoiled it a bit, since people immediately started feeling lost.

I finally finished week 2’s activities. I’m late, have to go faster and catch up quickly, since we’re already at the middle of week 4. Darn.

I don’t want to give it up, it’d be awful. I need to keep up with what I’m doing but do it faster and with more focus. I did the context, personas, factors and objections part, but I’m not going to do the force map. Let’s see if I can get the badge…

I’m (OLDs) MOOCing in the rain… #oldsmooc_w2

raining_cats_and_dogs

Amid the nice winter weather we’re having here in Europe (rainstorm in Portugal, snow all over Europe, fyi), this was not a good (OLDs) MOOCing week for my. My time management was far from adequate, and I had to find time between the classes I give, the ones I take (or whatever you want to call them) and the deadlines for several assignments for the master’s (if you speak Portuguese, check out my Digital Storytelling video ). So, I didn’t start on Thursday, hoping to catch up in the weekend, and when it arrived some other things suddenly crashed on my lap (including the aforementioned deadlines), so I had to focus on that. Then week started and I was a bit frustrated and dispirited by the lack of communication in the project I had joined, so I didn’t have the nerve to do anything in the MOOC… I had to get some word of encouragement, and it came, but at the same time I just checked the status of the project, and the original promoter says she’ll be unable to actively support it due to work schedule. Oh well, at least she seems to have a stable job, which is better that not having one… Alas, I’m going to try to join another team, that’s how life is, keep banging your head and in the end… you get a concussion! 😀

Oh, wait, if I get to catch up with week 2 activities, can I still apply for the badge? If any reader knows, please comment J Thanks!

Cheerio!

OLDs MOOC end of first week thoughts #oldsmooc

Well, it’s Wednesday, so let’s do a balance of the week. I must say I tried hard, but I was unable to do all the activities proposed for the week. I have a project but I integrated a team that’s doing a related project, I integrated a study circle that formed on google+, and now I must say something for my fellows at Universidade Aberta: I hope they don’t mind my absense, but at this time I prefer to mingle with people from other places, since networking can be seen as one of the objectives of a MOOC. That said, I took a lot of time to solve my teaming up issue, because I had a lot to do in the weekend and couldn’t do a lot, and couldn’t take part in the convergence and brainstorming. At this precise moment I’m watching the convergence video. Oh, I just noticed my group ,mate Ronald took part on it, nice.

I like the MOOC and it’s very innovative and creative spirit going on. The dreambazaar has lots of amazing ideas for projects, and I feel really motivated to be part of all of this. However, I have to say the Cloudworks platform is not the most friendly or usable I’ve worked with, and I consider myself technology-savvy. I’m sure some people are having trouble figuring out what to make of it.

All in all, I think it has been a very promising experience and I’m really excited about this first experience in MOOCland. I think MOOCs have a very big role to play in education, and I hope this one in particular has a great success.

Team set up, let’s get down to business! #oldsmooc_w1

Things seem to be improving, but I have a feeling this MOOC is causing a lot of confusion for some people, including myself. It may be just the beginning, but I spend A LOT of time just trying to find my way on the Cloudworks website. Not good, especially when I have more things to do besides MOOCing. Including assignments that whose deadlines approach fast. But alas…

So, I have entered on a team to develop a project proposed by Arosha Bandana from The Open University, which will be focused on digital literacy (that is, related to the topic of my own [second] project). The link is here: http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2783. I thought her project was interesting, and even if it has some programming, I’m kinda confortable with that J. Tomorrow I’ll post my weekly thoughts on the MOOC, since that is the day’s activity. And aim for the first weekly badge, of course!

Flying through the Cloud(work)s

And at day 5… I’m behind the schedule. The planets seem to have aligned in such a way that the deadline for two assignments of the Master’s were this past weekend, and I was caught in the middle of some situations which prevented me from doing them earlier, so I didn’t have a lot of time during the weekend for browsing through other people’s clouds on the dreambazaar. Because of that I didn’t put a lot of thought when writing my dream project, so I wasn’t really confident on that either.

So, today I took the time to remake my project from scratch, this time on the field of digital literacy and using the internet in a more responsible and effective way. I pinpointed some people’s projects as well, which I’d like to join if I’m not able to get help for mine. I think things are slowly moving to their proper places.

So… Let’s (OLDs) MOOC!

OLDs MOOC

Yesterday, 10th January, I had the chance to take part, for the first time in my life, on one of the biggest innovations in learning technology of recent years: a MOOC.

MOOC is an acronym of Massive Open Online Course, a development in distance education where a single institution is able to, aided by technological resources, provide a learninng environment for a huge number of participants at the same time, promoting interaction and sharing between them to maximize the learning experience in an innovative ways.

This MOOC in particular is a course on Learning Design (it’s name is Open Learning Design studio MOOC) and is promoted by the Open University of the UK.

A great thing with this (and other) MOOC(s) is that they take advantage of the different social tools spread on the web for educational resource, rather than using only a closed environment controlled by themselves. While that is good because it allows for a greater openness, better flexibility and a lot of interaction with people and information around the world, it can be a bit confusing and not so good for the less savvy on the information technology.

So, in this first day we got acquainted to the different tools we’re going to use, like Google Groups, Cloudworks, Twitter, Google+ and others (granted, some of them are of regular use by a lot of the participants and Cloudworks is the one requiring a deeper attention since few outside the UK Open University had used it before). We did introductions (the social interaction is of the utmost importance) and defined learning goals for the week.

Today (11th) we have to propose learning design projects. I’m going to start by searching what that means and try to come up with something. Wish me luck J

O meu Ambiente Pessoal de Aprendizagem (PLE)

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Nota: cliquar na imagem para aceder ao diagrama interactivo

Este diagrama representa, em traços largos, o meu ambiente pessoal de aprendizagem. Por limitações de segurança do WordPress, é necessário clicar na imagem para aceder à versão interactiva, onde poderão clicar nos diferentes nós para aceder aos sites específicos.

Procurei com este trabalho fazer uma reflexão sobre o meu comportamento online, quais as interações que estabeleço com diferentes sites e com diferentes pessoas, que tipo de informação recebo e em que medida esta contribui oara enriquecer o meu processo de aprendizagem contínua, de uma maneira formal ou não formal.

Assim, como demonstra o diagrama que construí utilizando uma ferramenta open source, o Dia, tendo posteriormente exportado para o formato svg e adicionado os links ao código fonte e o script para navegar à la Google Maps, vê-se que divido a minha experiência online entre os sites que agrego no Google Reader, que são notmalmente fontes de notícias e blogues, e outros com os quais interajo, como as redes socias Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Delicious, etc. Isso tudo faz parte da minha aprendizagem não formal, e também aqui se incluem sites de referência como a Wikipedia, motores de pesquisa, videos, e o iTunes U, através do qual já tive oportunidade de assistir a alguns cursos de Yale, por exemplo.

No que toca à aprendizagem formal temos a Universidade Aberta e o grupo do MPeL, com o qual estabeleço contactos formis e informais, tanto no Moodle como nas diversas redes sociais.

É este, portanto, o mapa da minha virtualidade, mais coisa menos coisa. Não referi alguns elementos porque são puramente de entretenimento, como podcasts cómicos, por considerar que não se enquadram bem em aprendizagem não formal.

Referências
Mota, José (2009). Personal Learning Environments: Contributos para uma discussão do conceito. In Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, vol.2 (2); pp. 5-21, Novembro de 2009. Disponível em: http://eft.educom.pt/index.php/eft/article/view/105/66.
Harmelen, M. Van. (2006). Personal Learning Environments. (M. Memmel & D. Burgos, Eds.)Sixth IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies ICALT06, 16(1), 815–816. doi:10.1109/ICALT.2006.1652565 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICALT.2006.1652565)
Dabbagh, N., & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal Learning Environments, social media, and self-regulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3–8. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.06.002)