Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Discussions in MOOCs: Should you have to post to view the discussion?

University of London and Bloomsbury Learning Environment is offering an interesting, 3 weeks course Get Interactive: Practical Teaching with Technology #getinmooc on Coursera platform. I registered on the course and was delighted to see @eileenkennedy01, @BLE1 and @architela leading the course.

I enjoyed the resources on the course and links provided to explore more. However, there is something about this course I am not comfortable with.

The course forums are closed until you make a post. In other words, if you wish to see what discussion happening in the forum you first have to post something to view it. To me this is very strange. If you are joining a conversation, in real life or in a forum, you listen or read what other discussions happening before commenting or giving your viewpoint. But in this course I was expected to give my comments BEFORE I had joined the discussion. 

For example, if this was a nasty conversation (which I am sure it was not) and I didn't want to be part of it, there was no way for me to know before I unlocked the conversion by posting. Basically, I come to a closed door (thanks @eileenkennedy01 for the simile) not knowing what is on the other side but have to open it to know what is on the other side - there is no peep hole. There could be a beautiful garden behind or a pack of hungry wolves!
Closed door
Closed door
Looking at Leave and Wenger's work on community of practice, they use the term Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) to describe new comers to a particular community of practice initially participating in simple low risk task and taking time to become experienced members. 

The blog post From novice to expert by Prof. Steve Wheeler discuss the theory and how it can be applied in online learning. Below extract is from the blog post. 

"Where some might see lurking (being present but not directly contributing to discussions or online activities) as a form of social loafing or lack of engagement in the learning community, Lave argues that it is legitimate and can lead to fuller participation once knowledge and confidence has been gained." 

I tweeted about this experience and from the replies I received it is seems that expecting a learner to be confident to open the door without letting them have a feel for the conversation is not what the course leaders wanted.  

@Tharindu__: #GetInMOOC what do you think of closed forums until students post to unlock and see others contributions? @eileenkennedy01 @BLE1 @coursera

@eileenkennedy01: Replying to @Tharindu__ @BLE1 @coursera
Good question! Personally I don't like it. Feels like coming up against a big locked door when you were expecting it to slide open. V scary.

@Tharindu__: exactly my thoughts! It puts me off posting altogether. I like @FutureLearn style

@paigecuffe: Replying to @Tharindu__ @eileenkennedy01 and 3 others
Many need to see conversations modeled before they are ready to post. Plus active listening valuable too. Interesting convo - who's locking?

@Tharindu__: yes agree - legitimate peripheral participation

@SarahCrabbe1: Replying to @Tharindu__ @eileenkennedy01 and 2 others
I don't know - would nervous students want to post without knowing the standard and level of others work? #getinmooc

@eileenkennedy01: Posting in the dark doesn't sound very comfortable to me

You are welcome to add your thoughts...

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