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A new ecology for learning: An online ethnographic study of learners’ participation and experience in connectivist MOOCs
Saadatmand, Mohsen

PublishedMay 2017
Type of workDoctoral dissertation (article-based)
PeriodicalVolume Doctoral Dissertation, Pages 1-127
PublisherFaculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki
InstitutionUniversity of Helsinki
AdvisorsKumpulainen, Kristiina and Ilsley, Paul

ABSTRACT
This dissertation focuses on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) which have emerged and heralded as new online learning environments able to serve large numbers of students. Identifying two main types of MOOCs known as connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) and instructivist MOOCs (xMOOCs), emphasis is placed on the learning ecology of connectivist MOOCs and how the format, with all of its attention on learner-centered pedagogy and social media invite collaboration and networking. The thesis provides detailed analysis and description of learners’ experiences and perceptions of participation and their use of online tools and resources in the process of learning and networking. CMOOCs promote the ideals of re-structuring the spaces of learning from classrooms to open networked ecologies that enable learners to have greater control over their learning experiences, content, and use of technologies.

The study builds on the theoretical foundations of networked learning and connectivism that undergird the affordances of technology in promoting connectedness among learners, resources, networks and communities. The investigations into personalized learning and ecological learning design shed light on the significant role of learners and acknowledge their autonomy in creating their learning environments. The study employed and developed “online ethnography” to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of learning in cMOOCs from the perspectives of learners themselves. Data were gathered from several MOOCs over a five-year period through participant observation, interviews, open-ended questions, surveys, and online artifacts.

The findings demonstrate that cMOOCs are learner-centered ecologies in which learners participate in the flow and generation of knowledge by creating and sharing content through networked technologies such as blogs, wikis, Twitter, and Facebook. Developing a personal learning environment (PLE) in cMOOCs enhances learner autonomy and creates a space for them to aggregate, remix, repurpose content, reflect, and share their learning experiences. Additionally, the results indicate that participation in cMOOCs requires learners to assume active roles in a spirit of openness in forming their learning experiences and networking activities; to develop digital competence to manage the abundance of resources.

Theoretical understandings and empirical evidence of the sub-studies helped delineate cMOOCs as an open networked learning ecology that positions a learner at the intersection of personalized and networked situations to foster processes of self-directed learning and connectedness in open online contexts. The study contributes to the knowledge and pedagogy of open networked learning and provides insights to help universities, course designers, MOOC providers, instructors, and participants improve online learning experiences.
Tämä väitöstutkimus käsittelee merkittäviksi uudenlaisiksi verkko-oppimisen ympäristöiksi muodostuneita massiivisia avoimia verkkokursseja (massive open online courses, MOOCs). MOOC-ympäristöjen kaksi päätyyppiä ovat vuorovaikusta ja yhteydenpitoa painottavat kurssit (connectivist MOOCs, eli cMOOCs) ja opetusta painottavat kurssit (instructivist MOOCs eli xMOOCs). Tutkimuksessa tarkastellaan, kuinka osallistujat hahmottavat ja jäsentävät cMOOCs-kurssien oppimisen ekologian. Tutki-mus tarjoaa yksityiskohtaisen analyysin ja kuvauksen oppijoiden osallistumisen kokemuksista ja havainnoista sekä heidän online-työkalujen ja resurssien käytöstä toimiessaan cMOOCs:ympäristössä. Siirtämällä oppimisen luokkahuoneista avoimiin verkostoituneisiin ekologioihin cMOOC-kurssit pyrkivät muuttamaan oppimisen tiloja mahdollistaen oppijoille suuremman vastuun oman oppimiskokemuksensa muodostumiseen. Ne tarjoavat myös oppijoille mahdollisuuden ottaa käyttöön laajan valikoiman teknologioita joiden avulla he valitsevat, luovat, jakavat sisältöä sekä tuottavat materiaalia tiedon virtaan.

Tutkimuksen teoreettinen perusta on verkottuneessa oppimisessa sekä konnektivismissa, jotka korostavat teknologian käyttömahdollisuuksia oppijoiden, resurssien, verkostojen ja yhteisöjen välisen vuorovaikutuksen rakentamisessa. Keskeisiä ovat esimerkiksi henkilökohtaisen oppimisen (personalized learning) sekä ekologisen oppimisen (ecological learning) suunnittelu, jotka painottavat oppijoiden keskeistä roolia sekä tunnustavat heidän autonomiansa omien oppimisympäristöjensä luojina. Tutkimuksessa käytettiin ja samalla kehitettiin online-etnografiaa pragmaattisena tutkimusmetodina, jonka avulla voidaan paremmin ymmärtää oppimisen dynamiikkaa cMOOC-oppimisympäristöissä. Aineistoa kerättiin useilta verkkokursseilta osallistuvan havainnoinnin, haastattelujen, strukturoitujen ja avoimia kysymyksiä sisältävien kyselylomakkeiden sekä online-tuotosten avulla reilun viiden vuoden aikana.

Tulokset osoittavat, että cMOOC-kurssit ovat oppijakeskeisiä ekologioita, joissa oppijat osallistuvat tiedon tuottamisen ketjuun luomalla ja jakamalla sisältöä verkottuneiden teknologioiden, kuten blogien, wiki-alustojen, Twitterin ja Facebookin avulla. Henkilökohtaisen oppimisympäristön (personal learning environment, PLE) kehittäminen cMOOC-kursseilla mahdollistaa oppijan autonomian sekä luo heille tilan, jossa voi koota, yhdistellä, uudelleen järjestellä ja suunnata sisältöä sekä reflektoida ja jakaa omia oppimiskokemuksia. Lisäksi tulokset osoittavat, että cMOOC oppimisympäristöihin osallistuminen edellyttää oppijoilta aktiivisen roolin omaksumista ja avoimuutta heidän oppimiskokemustensa ja verkostoitumista koskevien toimintojensa muodostamisessa. cMOOCs oppimisympäristöt edellyttävät oppijoilta myös digitaalisten kompetenssien kehittämistä, joilla tarjolla olevien resurssien runsautta on mahdollista hallita.

Tutkimuksen tuottama teoreettinen ja empiirinen ymmärrys massiivisista avoimista verkkokursseista mahdollistaa viitekehyksen luomisen avoimen verkostoituneen oppimisen ekologialle (open networked learning ecology) joka asettaa oppijan henkilökohtaisten ja verkottuneiden tilanteiden risteyskohtaan sekä edistää itseohjautuvan oppimisen ja yhteyksien luomisen pro-sesseja avoimissa online-konteksteissa. Tutkimuksen tulokset hyödyttävät avoimia verkottunutta oppimista koskevaa tietoa ja pedagogiikkaa sekä tarjoavat näkökulmia, jotka auttavat, MOOC-ympäristöjen tarjoajia, opettajia ja osallistujia kehittämään online-oppimisen kokemuksia.

Keywords avoin kasvatus · community of inquiry · connectivism · e-learning design · henkilökohtaiset oppimisympäristöt · learning ecology · MOOCs · networked learning · online ethnography · online learning · online-etnografia · online-oppiminen · open education · oppimisen ekologia · personal learning environments · verkottunut oppiminen

Published atUnigrafia, Helsinki
ISBNISBN 978-951-51-3190-4 (paperback) ISBN 978-951-51-3191-1 (PDF)
RefereedDoes not apply
RightsThis publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.
URLhttp://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-3191-1
Export optionsBibTex · EndNote · Tagged XML · Google Scholar


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