Learners as Educators

Sliced PLEs – that is the term I had thought of to describe the subject of this post. I wrote:

Let us say I managed to slice through everything in my PLE and gathered relevant information (posts, entries, discussions etc) around a specific learning area. Then, suppose I had the tools to order and sequence that information into a flow that seems intelligible to me. Then, suppose I somehow managed to add supporting information of my own that I would think people would benefit from (maybe a short quiz or an introduction).

Then I sent all that out to my community and said, why don’t you help me refine this…I would like to share my learning experience with others who may have a similar learning style? Suppose, through a process of soft peer reviews, I was able to improve on what I did. At the end, I could then submit the peer reviewed learning material (my shared PLE slice) to the community and let the community rate it.

Suppose you wanted to learn about that particular area. You would go to the virtual learning place, search and find a large number of these shared PLEs with different community ratings. You could pick the one you like the most (i.e. find the most intelligible), import that slice into your own PLE (just like importing a SCORM based course into an LMS maybe, though I know people will dislike that analogy!) and maybe even rate it when you complete.

From Dave and George’s Educause article, the rationale for open online courses stems from challenges of scale and opportunities for diversity in ideas. They go on to elaborate on the changing roles of the educator in open online courses – amplifying, curating, wayfinding, aggregating, filtering, modeling and staying present. Online open courses in practice mean for them a participatory pedagogy, an “eventedness”, resource centralization, conversation clusters, “just enough” structure and flexibility to engage with self-direction.

The issues essentially are those of retaining attention & ensuring participation (the other side of the filtering Dave is working on to resolve and which Chris Anderson would perhaps call “pedagogic waste” – its alright to dropout when it is free?) and accreditation that is an important aspect.

How would these issues be addressed by a scenario where learners, who anyway have to go through all the roles of the educator identified above (except perhaps staying present)  in order to learn, decide to make their learning journeys sharable, replete with the affordances of social media? What new issues would be raised? What benefits would this have?

Scale and filtering (to the extent of attention and motivation) would perhaps be addressed in such a model. The model could provide a host of other affordances – personalization (learn in ways people with styles similar to yours learn), diversity (multiple ways to learn – each may provide a unique insight), scale of support (there are many more educators then), access (ability to find the most appropriate resources for your needs, decentralization (corollary to scale) etc. 

I see these differently from DIY or traditional courses in the sense that connectivism offers. Authenticity could be as large an issue as in other debates, although I have the feeling that peer reviews will help mitigate that. The certification issue could become a role for formal educators in a sense similar to learners taking courses for credit in an open online course. The focus would shift from open educating to open learning.

Tools could be developed so that other learners can learn from the new educators learning journey. These tools could alleviate the need to create structured content. Best of all, perhaps learning journeys could be aggregated and mashed up at will creating more comprehensive or richer learning experiences.

I believe this would be connective. It would also be, in a sense, learning through connective simulations – immersive environments where learning in diverse forms and shapes is being experienced and practiced.

As always would appreciate your feedback and comments!

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