What Is Your Definition of Social Media in Education?

There is a graphic online that shows data from a survey done by Pearson. One stat is that 70% of faculty use social media in their personal lives. But only 41% use it in the classroom.

But as another blogger points out, it was a rather antisocial social media report. There is no no way to embed the graphic or share it on social networks.

A few takeaways from this report. They found blogs and wikis to be the most commonly used social media tools. A lot of us would not count those as social media, although they have social aspects (like commenting). Again, I agree with the aforementioned blog that considers them as "less social and more web 2.0." They are also very content and user-centered.  Same thing with the second most popular tool - podcasts.

So, for me, another takeaway: How do you define social media on the context of the classroom?

Got MOOC? A List of Providers

Cours­era, EdX, Udac­ity are still the big names in providing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), but the definitions of "Open" and even "Course" have been changing since I first started listing providers on this blog. Some of the providers in the numbered list below are no longer using content that is open for reuse or sharing. And some courses are not really "courses" in the traditional definition, as they do not have assignments, grades etc. They might be thought of more as Communities or Conversations.

Although a number of these providers offer some non-English courses and almost all have enrollment open to all countries, there are more providers starting outside the United States that focus on other languages, geographical sectors and universities outside the U.S.

Here are a few providers outside the U.S. 

  • European universities have collaborated to launch a joint MOOC portal OpenupEd.eu with support from the European Commission, the initiative is the most comprehensive offering of European MOOCs

  • Open Learn - Open University (UK)

  • mooc.fr - dédié à des MOOCs francophones - a site dedicated to Francophone MOOCs

  1. Coursera

  2. EdX

  3. Udacity

  4. Curricki

  5. Udemy

  6. NovoEd first launched at Stanford as VentureLab, now private

  7. Class Central - aggregates Stanford, Coursera, MIT and Harvard led edX (MITx + Harvardx + BerkeleyX), and Udacity courses

  8. Blackboard offers its CourseSites platform for free courses and MOOCs

  9. Canvas Network - free and courses for a fee from Instructure using their Canvas LMS

  10. Open Learning Global

  11. P2PU   peer to peer university

  12. SyMynd courses from NYU, University of Washington and McGill University

  13. Carnegie Mellon University Open Learning Initiative

  14. Open Yale courses (Yale joined with Coursera in May 2013)

  15. Stanford's Free Online Courses

  16. MOOC2Degree works with public universities to offer credit-bearing MOOCs as a free, first step toward earning a degree.

The following four providers offer course materials without facilitators or discussions. A do-it-yourself course, perhaps, or a resource for teachers searching for materials to use in their own courses.

Several other sites are listing MOOC providers, though there is no definitive "one-stop" aggregation site where you can go and easily search a catalog of all the MOOCs currently available. mooc-list.com is one such site, but sites are also appearing that a commercial/advertising intent along with offering a way to search. (An example is Russian website at studymooc.org) The mooc.ca site also offers a list of open online courses of different types.

MOOC: The Usual Suspects and Some Newer Ones

MOOC Major Players - click to go to original image source

I'm headed to talk as part of a MOOC panel today and looking over my notes I'd say that the major players in MOOCville are the same as a year ago. Coursera, Udacity and edX are still the big names.

The infographic above adds Khan Academy which was doing its thing before MOOC became newsworthy, but not many people thought of Khan Academy as a MOOC. It is still debatable that what they offer can be considered a "course," and their new dashboard makes it seem more of a curriculum. 

It is more interesting to me to look at the new kids on the block.

MOOC2Degree is Academic Partnerships working with public universities to offer credit-bearing MOOCs with the idea of this as a first step and a free start toward earning a degree. They take the initial course in select online degree programs and convert them into a MOOC. They maintain the academic content and instructors and students who successfully complete a MOOC2Degree course earn academic credits toward a degree, based upon criteria established by participating universities.

I taught a MOOC last spring for Canvas Network which is owned by Instructure. Admittedly, I knew very little about Instructure before 2013, although it was founded in 2008 by two BYU graduate students. They are now legitimately one of Blackboard’s biggest competitors.

Blackboard has just been starting to be a player in MOOCville this past year via its CourseSites platform. Blackboard and Canvas both suffer from two problems so far. They don't have the big, elite universities as part of their team - those are still with the big three. Also, any LMS vendor who gets into the offering free MOOCs is going to be viewed as offering them as part of their marketing for the LMS. Still, that kid taking an engineering class in Canvas or Blackboard is not a potential customer, though his professor might be one day.

Finally, there is Udemy ("The Academy of You") which encourages people (not just established "teachers") to create courses using the Udemy platform. Their unique spin is that they will share the tuition with the creator/teacher. They have courses in entrepreneurship, academics, the arts, health and fitness, language, and technology and they have teachers that include authors and business professionals. A good example is their music offerings which are taught by a wide variety of people.

MOOC Myths

Apollo Amusing the Gods
Apollo Amusing the Gods

There are myths about all technologies and innovations, and MOOCs, being very buzzworthy the past year, certainly have created a few.

An article in the EDUCAUSE Review this month online has five MOOC myths it covers.

The quick list is:
1. It's All about Money
2. MOOCs Create a Two-Tier Educational System
3. MOOCs Are Inherently Inferior
4. MOOCs Are Mechanistic
5. We've Seen How This Plays Out

We can argue if those are myths and if those are the five most important, but they all have some validity in being included in our MOOC discussion. You can read the article for details, but that fifth myth - We've Seen How This Plays Out - is the one that most interested me.

Many in education (I hesitate to say "educators") quickly wrote off MOOCs as just another technology-related educational fad. Naysayers say that technology will not save education. Maybe education doesn't need saving, but the MOOC has been thrown into the mix with articles about predicting the end of education as we know it.

I suspect many of my readers have seen a presentation that includes some slide about how at one time the blackboard, phonograph, radio, films, television, VCR, CD, and online learning were going to revolutionize education. And they did not.

It turns out that most of these technologies have been more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I suspect the MOOC will follow that model.

But the article points out that one thing that might set MOOCs apart from earlier attempts to adapt technological innovation to education is "their potential for enabling individualized learning." Rather than being ways of "packaging information," MOOCs might change the conventional classroom practice of presentation and delivery of content much more than online learning changed (or failed to change) it.

There are still plenty of sages on stages in higher education and in K-12 classrooms. The MOOC model might just change our focus from "where or from whom one receives instruction" to "how the learning process is designed."

The MOOC is a disruptor, but it may evolve into something else in a few years that really is a game-changer. If you believe in the Hype Cycle, then you might look to other disruptors like Google, Amazon, Facebook, iPhone, iTunes, Netflix and even the Internet itself as disruptors that were once taken much less seriously and our now just part of our lives.

Have we seen the MOOC before? We certainly have seen big (though not massive) courses and free courses and lots of opportunities to learn online. But another consideration the article points us to is that the MOOC has occurred at a time when other trends are active in education. It might be more important to consider how MOOCs mix with these trends to be something more.

The trends that seem to be converging now along with the rise of the MOOC are: what the learning sciences are telling us about changing educational practices; a shift from seat-time to competency-based assessment models; the possible unbundling of knowledge acquisition from credits, credentials and degrees and a global economy where the current model just seems incompatible.

Finally, the article's author,

Online Disinhibition Effect

The term "online disinhibition" is new to me, but the concept is not. It is defined as being the loosening or complete abandonment of social restrictions and inhibitions when online that would otherwise be present in a normal face-to-face interaction.

You can add a whole string of other psychological terms into this area: dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority.

At first, you might think of this lack of inhibition as a negative thing. People can feel free to act badly. What surprised me was that much of the research shows some positive tendencies like becoming more affectionate, more willing to open up to others, less guarded about emotions.

I encountered the term in a talk by Rey Junco, a professor and researcher who studies how technology use affects college students. His talk was focused on using quantitative methods to assess the effects of social media on student development, engagement, and success.

Of course, online disinhibition doesn't only lead to good behaviors. Psychologist John Suler distinguishes between benign disinhibition and the bad behaviors. Users can also do or say as they wish without fear of any kind of meaningful reprisals online. We all have encountered some form of bad behavior online in a forum or with comments or even in a blog post itself. Bad behavior is low-risk with a slim chance of being caught and fairly lightweight punishments.

shoutOne much older technology also created this disinhibition. The Citizen Band (CB) radio craze of the 1970s also allowed users to be on-air, obnoxious and fairly anonymous.

The asynchronous nature of the Internet can also affect a person's inhibitions. Places like online forums do not happen in real time and people can post and leave, never to return while their comment lives on and continues to get responses.  As anyone who has taught or learned online has learned, without the visual face-to-face cues we are used to in real life, we tend to assign characteristics and traits to the virtual person. That has always occurred for people reading about fictional characters or listening to a voice on the radio and now it occurs constantly online.

Sometimes that lack of inhibition burns people. The person who posted the inappropriate comment or tweet and was fired. In my earliest days teaching online, back around 2000, we always felt the need to include a policy on "netiquette" for students. Unfortunately, there is no universal netiquette policy or enforcement agency on the Internet.

Anonymity online can be a good thing. I remember reading studies about women in online engineering courses being more successful because some of the inhibitions from being in a predominantly male classroom were lifted.

Jeremy Dean says in a post that "These factors work together to create a world in which we can feel freer. But this freedom is an illusion maintained by the online experience of invisibility, anonymity and lack of immediate, visceral, emotional feedback from others, or at least our ability to turn that feedback off."

I'm not sure that comedian Louie C.K. intended to comment on disinhibition, but he certainly doesn't see his kids living on their phones as a good thing.