Results of the CCK08 Course Tools Survey

About a year ago, I launched a survey on the use of the wide range of technological tools used within the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Course (CCK08).

Thanks to all the respondents, I had a lot of significant data to work on!

I finally wrote a paper, The Technological Dimension of a Massive Open Online Course: The Case of the CCK08 Course Tools, trying to summarize the results and make some hypothesis on the findings.

The study has now been published in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL) in its Special Issue: Openness and the Future of Higher Education edited by David Wiley and John Hilton III.

IRRODL is an Open Access Journal published by the Athabasca University (Canada).

Hoping that it can be somehow useful for participants and facilitators of future Open Online Courses…

CCK08 Course Tools Survey

image The Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Online Course (CCK08) is over.

First of all, thanks to the excellent facilitators: George Siemens and Stephen Downes!

Even though I wasn’t an… exemplary student 🙂 the course has been a good opportunity for my research.

As part of my PhD work (that is focused on learning networks for Lifelong Learning) I’m now presenting a survey on the use of the wide range of technological tools proposed by the facilitators (and by some students, too) during the course.

I try to investigate uses and approaches to the web tools available for the course (taking into account users’ profiles, motivation, technological background, language, etc.) and to understand whether the absence of specific constraints on the use of the web tools (e.g. rules on time and/or purposes) was an obstacle for the participants, by generating anxiety and confusion or, conversely, fostered their participation and outcomes.

So, if you are a CCK08 student (no matter if you completed or not the course!!), I ask you a favour: please spend some of your time in replying to the

CCK08 Course Tools Survey.

The answers are strictly anonymous.

In addition, I’ll be glad to share the results with anyone interested.

Thank you in advance! 🙂

CCK08 – Week 8 – What estate? A digression…

I was reading the Pierfranco’s post related to terminology issues about the term “estate“, as used in the paper by W.H.Dutton.

Well, we (in Italy) have another problem.

Actually, while reading the paper I was reflecting on the fact that the Italian title of a well-known film by Sidney Lumet (released in 1976) was “Quinto Potere” (Fifth Estate)!

But when I was reading the paper I was on a plane, without any Internet connection (this is also a point….), so I wasn’t able to realize that the original title of the film was “Network” (what a coincidence!!!), nothing to do with “Fifth Estate”!

In fact, “Network” dealt with TV and mass-media power and won several awards.

Here the most famous scene from “Network” (still valid today…):

Here the Italian version (“sono incazzato nero e tutto questo non lo accetterò più”).

In conclusion, the expression “Fifth Estate” is really new in English, but not in Italian….


CCK08 – Connectivism at work

To me, it’s hard to make sense of connectivism as a learning theory. So, since the course started, I often have been searching examples of connectivistic situations in my daily work.

Here another little story of daily life connectivism:


Since weeks, I’m struggling with the writing of a research paper.  The work is proceeding quite slow.. Unfortunately I’m not so well inspired..

The story:

Yesterday afternoon, I was NOT working at the chapter nor had desire to do it… 😉

Instead, I was lazily browsing my Google Reader, with no specific objective.

Suddenly, I stumbled on a post by Thieme Hennis about Wordle, an online tool to make tag clouds from a text. Note: I (virtually)  knew Thieme last year, on the occasion of the OpenEd 2007 course, and simply kept the RSS feed from his blog in my reader. In brief, he’s a very little part of my network…

Wow! What a coincidence! I needed to make a tag cloud from a piece of text for my paper but I didnt’ know that such a tool existed, even though I am sure I tried to search it googling with no success (I found how to generate tag clouds from sites and RSS feeds but not from text files..)

So, I was able to re-start to work at my paper and had my nice tag cloud!!

Yes, I’m aware this is a little, very ordinary case of serendipity, but I argue it’s also a good example of connectivistic knowledge: the useful information (knowledge) emerged from my network, that was also supported by the technology of RSS and Google Reader. Furthermore, the serendipity had a positive effect on motivation, since it leaded me to resume my work..

All this only due to a simple, mostly silent, little connection…

CCK08 – Week 5 – Groups, Networks and Collectives

A little premise: I’m following the CCK08 at my own pace.. So I’m still working on week 5 stuff…

I’m very impressed by the Dron & Anderson’s paper on groups, networks and collectives.

The authors succeed to detect the key concepts on which most network technologies are grounded.

While reading, my internal connections 🙂 lead me to remind a very nice diagram by Scott Wilson. Maybe it’s not so popular as his first one about PLE (the well-known Future VLE graph) but to me this new version is more meaningful.

The new Scott’s diagram shows a three-tier structure, in which I see very well an overlap with the concepts of groups, networks and collectives.

The networked learner belong to all these three types of structures and presumably is going to use a variety of tools.

So, this is my remixed version of the Scott’s diagram, with very simple annotations on groups, networks and collectives:


From right to left, from institutions to individuals, I suppose it is likely to find groups/networks/collectives-oriented tools.

To me, it’s very interesting the middle tier, where I see systems like Elgg, a sort of middleware between institutions and individuals, i.e. between formal and informal learning, i.e. between groups and collectives.

In the perspective of Networked Lifelong Learning (that is the main topic of my PhD..), I guess that this intermediation may be a key point: groups are often too closed and limited, collectives may be dispersive and confusing, networks may fit well.

CCK08 – Short Paper 1 – Position on Connectivism

Well, it ‘s time to write the first short paper. I take this assignment as a welcome advice from the facilitators because, despite I found nothing interesting to say regarding the issues of weeks 2 and 3, I now need to verify where I am..
So, my position on connectivism…
Easy! I feel literally immersed in connectivism! But it’s a feeling, something “instinctive”, as Andreas says.
Perhaps it is natural, since I am a professional in networking, communication, education. It’s easy for me to be connectivist, while I navigate through my RSS feeds, write a post on my blog and comment on some blog friends. I’m a quite skilled user of a lot of technological gizmos that allow me to feel, almost physically, the flow of reticular knowledge to which I feel to belong.
But I wonder whether and how that feeling can really become a theory of learning and whether and how this theory can be validated and extended to all.
And yet I wonder: should people be aware of connectivism to adapt their behavior to it or is it an implicit theory that works anyway?
Thinking back to some principles of connectivism (mostly from Knowing Knowledge) I wonder if these are universal and can be applied in all contexts: for example, I’m pretty sure that the multiplicity of views, which I think is always an element of great importance, is not so well received everywhere.
Try entering a strictly hierarchic organization (e.g. the military…) and there you will see that the dissenting views are not so well accepted … Does it mean that in certain contexts learning does not happen? Or that there are context in which connectivism does not work?
The ability to learn new things is more important than what we already know: I identify myself in this definition because my life has always been oriented to news, to know more, but I wonder how much this ability to learn is actually determined from what we already know?
By reducing the importance of “static” knowledge, maybe we are in danger of losing the ability to access the dynamic one? For schools this is a crucial point: the growing unease of teachers in front of the (often naively) connective learning styles of young people is a proof. Neverthless, schools should give that base on which anyone could build his/her own dynamic learning future paths.
More: sharing seems to be another key element of connectivism. But even this is not a universal value: there are areas where the confidentiality and secrecy are more important than attitude to sharing which, in contrast, is not encouraged.
Finally, I wonder if connectivism can exist without technology. In fact, social networks have existed since mankind appeared on Earth. The difference nowadays is that technologies can eliminate the barriers of space and time. But at the same time they are creating other kinds of social and cultural obstacles. To what extent therefore does the digital divide affect connectivism?
As I write these brief notes I realize that, after all, I have not yet a precise position on connectivism but still many open questions. Perhaps the course will help me to answer, but I feel that it is more likely it will raise more questions instead, as indeed seems to happen to other participants.. Is it another property of connectivism? 🙂

CCK08 – Week 2 – Schools and rizhomes

Reading the Cormier’s article I was struck by the vision of rhizomatic model of education as a sort of chaotic, completely guideless learning (Cormier says “curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts”, ) that seems incompatible with the very notion of course and school (for example, is this course a rhizomatic experience?).

And what about the experts? I still advocate the need of experts! In my previous post about “ordinary connectivism” I presented an example in which experts were “special nodes” in our daily knowledge network.

Neverthless, the point is that anyone could be expert in something. This could seem trivial, but I guess this is a big point in which our schooling system seems unsuitable.

Schools are grounded on the idea that only teachers are experts, while students are usually semi-empty brains to be filled with notions. Students with peculiar abilities are rarely appreciated at school, if they are not aligned with the mainstream of the (mostly fixed) curriculum.

This way, schools encourage a very low level of epistemic belief in their students: the absolute knowing, in which “knowledge is always certain and it is obtained from authorities” (Jonassen, Marra & Palmer, 2004).

Unfortunately, this dramatically unfits with the multiplicity and flowing nature of knowledge (“knowledge is not static”, G.Siemens), nowadays!

Even if I’m not for de-schooling our society and I don’t (yet?) realize how “community can act as curriculum”, I’m as much convinced that schools must change, if they want to keep up with our changing society, maybe including some forms of rhizomes inside them…

CCK08 – Week 1 – A day of ordinary connectivism

I have to admit: I don’t like theoretical discussions and definitions.  I love stories, indeed and I think that often most concepts, even if difficult, may be better explained through storytelling.

So, this is a story about connectivism: even though it’s only a small log of my starting of today’s workday, I apologize for its lenght. I reflected on that event and found that it was possible to map this activity with some properties of connectivism.

Here’s the story.

This morning, around 7.30, I turned on my PC and checked my e-mail. Among others, there was a message from Maria, a colleague of mine at LTE. She said she received a request from Gianna, a teacher (maybe one of the participants of our teacher training courses…) who wanted to know how to work with her pupils on a cartoon video from YouTube. Gianna wanted to subtitle or add balloons to that video. I suppose Gianna was asking to Maria because she knows her and hoped she could help her, since Maria is part of Gianna’s personal network

Well, Maria in turn thought to ask to me. Why? Maybe because she knows that I’m quite more expert than her on those Web 2.0 stuff… and of course, I’m part of Maria’s network (not of the Gianna’s one, though, I don’t know Gianna at all)

Actually, I realized that I only roughly knew how to make the requested work. Anyway, I decided that I was able to give an answer.

First of all, I remembered that YouTube has recently added an annotation feature, maybe I read it in a post from my GoogleReader feeds (i.e.: part of my knowledge network supported by technology). So I started my reply for Maria with this first info, that came directly from my internal network (my brain).

I added one more info that I know very well: it’s also possibile to use DotSub for subtitling videos. However, this implies to be able to first download a video from YouTube and next upload it in DotSub. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to download a video from YouTube, but equally wanted to provide a complete reply.

It was time to activate my own external network: I was almost sure that Alberto, a blogger whose feed I subscribed, often blogs about YouTube, videos and similar stuff. Normally, I didn’t care so much about these posts but I was pretty sure that a quick query in my Google Reader had helped. I made a search in that specific feed but I found no resources about how to download from YouTube.  However I found another resource I didn’t have notice first: there is a web site where you can directly add bubble to any video, without need of download-upload anything! It’s named bubbleply, I quickly tried it, found good and I added this notice to my response. This is clearly an example of serendipity, caused by the mix of personal and resource network I looked at.

The end? No, of course I still wanted to complete with info about downloading from YouTube. So, if it’s true that “learning can reside in non-human appliances”  😉 I thought I could have find some info through Google. I searched simply “YouTube download” (actually, in Italian). One of the first results was an article from a blog authored by Salvo, an italian guy that I know for his reputation as an expert (again my personal network at work, this time useful for the reliability of the information). He suggested to use the web site for this task. Quick navigation to keepvid, and I was able to complete my reply for Maria.

At 8.02 I sent my reply message and I guess she forwarded it to Gianna as soon as she read it.

Bored by this story? I can realize that 🙂

Neverthless I argue it’s a good example of the very connective nature of the work of most of us. Work or learning or …existence? Actually, in this case, for those of us who live in the net, where is the difference?

Another question: where do the knowledge I produced during that half hour resided? It appears clear that it aggregated from a network, made by:

  1. my internal memory (about new YouTube feature and DotSub),
  2. my contacts in the net, a mix of human and resource network (bubbleply, I never was been able to discover it without my connection with Alberto),
  3. the networked resources offered by the Web (how to download from YouTube).

The role of technology in enabling this network is very evident, too.

Finally, think a bit to the Maria’s role in this story: we must point out that she was only a node, she acted as a router, a knowledge router. She actually didn’t know the answer, nor she was able to add any content, but her “existence” was absolutely essential in order to pipe that piece of knwoledge from me to Gianna. Neverthless, Maria had a peculiar skill: simply (simply?) “to know the right person to whom relay this question”. I argue it’s not so easy to find so efficient human routers… 🙂

Well, was it an “early morning connectivism” example?

CCK08 – Week 1 – Too much connected?

My very first impressions from the course: I feel a little uncomfortable with the variety of connection places that, in theory, we should manage.

This is causing me some anxiety: is it preferable to post here, in my blog, or is it better to discuss in the Moodle forum? Or should I post here and then put a link to the post in the forum, or in the Facebook group? And how will we struggle with the overwhelming quantity of information that will be arriving from our mates?

I started to read the papers for the week but I’m not already able to make a relevant post on content.

For now, I’m jumping from the course blog to the wiki to the Moodle forums to the Google Map, and following the links, and looking at the Italian community (yes… one more space), and… only a look to Facebook and.. I’ve not yet tried to play with CMap.

Maybe I’m just more connected than yesterday, but (for now) I haven’t learnt anything…

CCK08: kicking off!


Just a kickoff post to start my new CCK08 blog category. It will be the main space for my reflections and (I hope) discussions about the CCK08 course  topics.

For now, I’m trying to orient myself in the heterogeneous environments mounted for the course and decide what to use and what to discard: for example, I don’t think I’ll be using Second Life…

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