As part of today’s “homework” I’m opening this up to fellow participants in Hybrid Pedagogy‘s stimulating MOOC MOOC, hoping to capture some thoughts on the today’s MOOC MOOC “Questions at Hand,” from Jesse Stommel:
- How does the rise of hybrid pedagogy, open education, and massive open online courses change the relationships between teachers, students and the technologies they share?
- What would happen if we extracted the teacher entirely from the classroom? Should we?
- What is the role of collaboration among peers and between teachers and students? What forms might that collaboration take? What role do institutions play?
The goal of establishing connectivist cultures of learning—intertwined, non-spatially or time-delineated communities of individuals motivated by shared curiosities, needs, and/or passions—seems eminently aligned with what I suspect most forward-thnking educators (and parents) want for children, at least in the abstract. It is a giant leap, however, from most familiar “school” situations—even online courses—as experienced by students in the pre-university stages of their lives. Schools may be making halting steps toward altering the roles of teachers, expanding access to knowledge and the ways in which students can acquire or “construct” knowledge, skills, and understandings, but the notion of removing teachers from the “classroom” would give most K–12 educators—including myself, under many circumstances—an extreme case of vertigo.
But the advocates of the participant pedagogy—non-MOOC MOOCers should check out Howard Rheingold’s idea of “peeragogy” or the student comments on a Jesse Stommel class, watch George Siemens’s explication of the concept, or work their way through Stephen Downes’s MOOC Guide wiki—offer up these ideas both as provocations and as a route to education’s future—and they can be compelling.
So, if we are to prepare ourselves and our students to make this great leap, what questions do K–12 educators need to ask ourselves? Here are a few that come to mind:
- How do we start developing in ourselves, our schools, and most critically our students the habits of mind and the essential skills—and essential kinds of voices—that they will need to navigate their own pathways to learning? How do we even figure out what these are?
- How do we engage pre-adolescents, tweens, and secondary school students in the kinds of conversations about pedagogy that will help them understand their own wants and needs and how these relate to the work being done by the adults in whose schools and classrooms they find themselves?
- How do these conversations relate to established and conventional ideas about student learning styles and the power of metacognitive and reflective capacity?
- Are there markers of “readiness” that indicate points of entry to this process that fit the developmental capacities—cognitive, social/emotional, moral—of learners of various ages?
- Are there particular kinds of exercises that are especially well suited to helping students and teachers step away from their traditional roles and relationships?
- What role do schools as institutions and their leaders have in transforming the culture of learning in the direction of connectivist principles and participant pedagogy?
- How can we be certain that post-secondary education will welcome and truly be ready for students prepared for connectivist learning in which the traditional distinctions in the roles of learner and teacher are blurred and even flipped?
- In a more connectivist K–12 environment, how can we be certain that all students acquire the essential skills (reading, writing, numeracy, for starters, allowing that these can come in many flavors) they will need for making the most of future learning and citizenship opportunities and responsibilities?
I invite my fellow MOOC MOOCers and anyone else to engage with these questions—to add to them, rephrase them, argue against them (or even against the entire premise), perhaps even to ponder answers.
Please, have at it! And thanks.