Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is there a need to scream in order to learn in cMOOCs?

The following blog post relates to a recent article by Keith Brennan ( and the reply that Steven Downes wrote in his “Half an Hour” blog post The article by Brennan   (“In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice”)  refers to the “experience of technology novices and unconfident learners in cMOOCs environments”. Based on his experiences in cMOOCs he states:

To Learn in a cMOOC you need to connect
To connect in a cMOOc you need to learn

Anyone taking a “Physics 1” course in university will surely be a novice on the course subject: mechanics. The “novice” in all of Brennan’s reasoning refers to novice to the basic skills for participation in cMOOCs not the course subject.  All his arguments really refer to the difficulties encountered in utilizing the technologies employed in cMOOCs.

Two years back the technologies associated with using smartphones apps were foreign to the majority of Argentinian users. Today they have become second nature. Internet is in all schools and even “maestros” (primary school teachers) who were very uncomfortable and reluctant to the introduction  of laptops in class use them regularly today. My mother aged more than 80, receives email, uses what’s-up and much more.

cMOOCs are intended for university courses and I cannot imagine a freshman at any university in the world not being able to master email, making his own blog, adding a hash-tag or  tweeting.  It may have been that in 2008 some course participants of early cMOOCs (remember that 50 characterized average participant’s age) could have felt novices with the needed technologies. But that is not the case today.  In this I coincide with Steven Downes: “The idea that we are treating university students and adults as “novices” is appalling”.

All points discussed by Brennan  (motivation, cognitive load, the competent self, novices and success, failure) revolve on the influence of not mastering the needed basic technological concepts for participation in c-MOOCs.

Positive:  the article has served to hear a condensed and clarifying version by Stephen Downes (which I recommend) on these concepts within connectivism and cMOOCs.

On the other hand, “unconfident” learners will surely find much more support in cMOOCs than in most university courses.

No need to scream!!