Seeking Connectivist freedom and Instructivist safety in a MOOC

Jon Dron, Nathaniel Ostashewski


Many MOOCs rely on instructivist pedagogies, in which teaching follows a top-down transmission model. Whether they follow a behaviourist, cognitivist or constructivist path, teachers guide or dictate activities as well as provide information that learners use in learning. In most cases, learners are not treated as sources of knowledge but as recipients or, at best, constructors of it. This is a waste of the vast pools of skills and knowledge that inevitably exist in any large collection of learners and is diametrically opposed to the principles behind earlier but now less commonplace connectivist MOOCs (cMoocs). Such cMOOCs, at least in principle, benefit from scale – they gain value the more people there are engaged in them because, though they coalesce around shared events and resources that resemble the instructivist patterns of publication, learners generate and design their own learning paths, discussing, debating, sharing their learning in rich networks and clusters of networks. As part of a strategy to explore different approaches to MOOC delivery, we developed a site using the Elgg social media framework in order to attempt to gain benefits of social sharing to support learning. Participating in the Digital Age, a six-week Australian MOOC (PDA MOOC), self-referentially was concerned with learning to be a digital citizen while using participatory tools to do so. In this paper we report on the theoretical foundations of the design, its technical implementation, and the benefits and disadvantages of the approach when the course was run.

Palabras clave

MOOC; Cursos Masivos Abiertos en Línea; conectivismo; medios sociales; pedagogía participativa.

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Educación XX1

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DOI prefix: 10.5944/educxx1


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ISSN (versión impresa): 1139-613X

ISSN (versión electrónica): 2174-5374
Depósito legal: M. 31468-1998