Tag Archives: scaffolding

Levels of Scaffolding

The first blog post I wrote as an EDCMOOC student shared the scaffolding I put in place around myself as a learner in order to avoid dropping out of the course. I am happy to report that I stayed engaged the whole time and am ready for more MOOC’ing! Last week, Peter Taylor, left the following comment on my scaffolding post:

A blog post on different levels of scaffolding, http://wp.me/p1gwfa-sK
The first level is the one we think of in education, but I’d be interested to hear discussion on how that kind of scaffolding in MOOCs could lead to the other levels
[“1. Someone starts with a final structure in mind and provide the workers (or students) a safe scaffolding they use to complete the structure (or students come to understand the ideas and be proficient in the practices)…..”]

I am not an expert on scaffolding (I’ll leave that my colleague Kimberly Scott and others like Peter). However, I do think Peter’s question is an interesting one. How might the kind of scaffolding that I describe in the #EDCMOOC – Week 1 Scaffolding to Avoid Dropping Out post lead to the other levels of scaffolding that Peter describes for MOOC participants? But also, how does the scaffolding put in place by the instructors and other course participants enhance learners experiences and help them go deeper?

When I read Peter’s Scaffolding post, Level 3 stuck out for me. I’ll come back to levels 4 and 5 – need some more thinking time on those.

3. Someone (or someones) has (have) a synergistic cooperative or collaborative situation in mind—drawn from past experience and current understanding—and provides scaffolding to more than one group of workers (potential cooperators) to lead them towards a place where, if and when the groups meet, their interaction creates more than the sum of the parts. That is, like two sides of a bridge joining in a stable arch, the resulting situation is something no group could provide for itself (see strategic participatory planning)

In the Voice Thread group I’ve been part of during the EDCMOOC, we have been discussing ideas for ways to support various types of MOOC learners — how to provide scaffolding — so that individuals can meet their personal learning goals whatever they might be. I think that the EDCMOOC team at the University of Edinburgh definitely had a synergistic cooperative situation in mind, this EDCMOOC, and provided scaffolding to all of us which led us to all sorts of places where we met up and interacted. And from my own personal experience the interactions I’ve had with both the Voice Thread group and the group of #edcmchat students in the live Twitter chats have produced interactions and content that is much more than the sum of the parts.

So what does the scaffolding look like that produces the outcome described in Peter’s level 3 scaffolding? In the case of this particular MOOC, some of the ways that the teaching team provided scaffolding to foster 1 + 1 = 4 outcomes are listed below:

  • Designed a final assessment that is peer-reviewed instead of instructor-reviewed. This meant that in some cases people were forming groups or using existing social media communities to share their work prior to submitting. My Voice Thread group, for example, had a Google+ Hangout well before the due date of the final assignment where we shared drafts of the digital artifact and conducted a peer review that helped us iterate and tweak our final submissions.
  • Encouraged various ways of connecting with other students and course content. While there was a Coursera discussion area, it was not frowned upon if particular students, like me, wanted to interact on Twitter, Google+ or other places. In fact, it was encouraged (even though this makes the measurement of a MOOC difficult). In the two Google+ hangouts hosted by the teaching team, they answered questions on Google+ and Twitter — they met the participants where we were, not where the teaching team deemed we should be.
  • Directed participants to various groups to facilitate connecting with other students. During the second Google+ hangout, Christine Sinclair, spent some time talking about various groups  that were forming, specifically the Over 60 group. Jen Ross shared the EDCMOOC Voice Thread group with others in a blog post.

I also think that in a MOOC, the teachers/facilitators themselves are actually not able to provide all the scaffolding. Participants start emerging who provide some of this scaffolding. For example, Ary Aranguiz started the #edcmchat Twitter chat which was not part of the course design. Ary along with other Twitter chat hosts AndyDMMitchell, Eleni Zazani , and @kmallwein (list not meant to be comprehensive – many others played a role) did an excellent job of including Twitter newbies in the conversation with tweets like this one:

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 10.37.03 AM

Felicia Sullivan artfully provided scaffolding by being a quiet leader in the Voice Thread conversation. She seeded the conversation with a prompt and then replied quickly to member’s comments throughout the course, keeping us coming back for more!

But this is my experience. What are your thoughts on this topic?

  1. What are other kinds of scaffolding that could be used in future MOOCs to facilitate this kind of cooperation and collaboration amongst and between groups?
  2. Who was left out despite these various scaffolding methods?
  3. Were there things that didn’t work for you?
  4. Have you seen examples in other MOOCs where scaffolding was not put in place or didn’t naturally emerge? What happened?

photo credit: pni via photopin cc

Advertisements

#EDCMOOC – Week 1 Scaffolding to Avoid Dropping Out

I’ve dropped out of a MOOC before, so when I started participating in a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) called E-learning and Digital Cultures last week I wanted to set myself up for success. To do this I reflected on the way that I learn and the reasons why I never participated in the MOOC about MOOCs in Fall of 2011 despite my initial enthusiasm. I didn’t really commit to it the first time around. I neglected to set aside dedicated time to the MOOC and didn’t set up a framework to manage the massive amount of content.

As a graduate student in the MS Learning and Organizational Change program, I took several courses that were mostly self-directed, such as my independent study and my capstone project. These courses had some instructional scaffolding built-in that kept me on track, such as advisor meetings and assignments that prepared me for the final papers. It also didn’t hurt that a grade would be entered into the system at the end of the quarter!

In order to set myself up for success in this completely self-directed course, I decided to spend most of the first week setting up my own scaffolding around the course content and online discussion. One of the first resources I found helped me get started: 25 Tips To Make the Most of a MOOC. I tend to go down rabbit holes if just dive into the content so I intentionally did not look at the Week 1 materials until I had done the following:

Luckily, I am comfortable with most of these tools so did not get bogged down in trying to learn about them. I wonder what this would be like for someone who is not a regular user of social media tools?

I also have created the following learning goals for myself:

  • Try some new tools for creating digital artifacts so that I am able to complete the final project which involves creating a publicly available digital artifact which expresses something important about one or more of the themes covered in the course. Drawing / creating visuals is not my strong suit, so this will push me.
  • Write a few blog posts — I’ll admit that this is a bit scary for me but I’ve written two posts already and nothing bad has happened so far.
  • Read and view at least some of the course content during the week it is assigned.
  • Enhance my own personal learning network to support my role as Assistant Director of Academic Services in the MSLOC program at Northwestern University.

So far, I have met my goals for Week 1!

Watching the recording of the Google+ hangout with the course facilitators hooked me. I kept thinking that a trip to Edinburgh might be in order in the future as I observed this group of colleagues facilitate an authentic discussion that shows that they are also learning through this process! I agree with my colleague, Jeff Merrell, that they conducted a great session (See ‘Where are’ vs. ‘who are’ the professors. Thoughts on Google Hangouts and #edcmooc).

My personal learning network has grown already. I’ve started following various edcmooc’ers on Twitter and Google+ as well as some of the blogs.

As I was thinking about creating a digital image for this week, Juliette Swett, a student in the MSLOC program, tweeted about a new tool for creating images and connecting content. Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 2.01.58 PMI played with ThingLink over the weekend and created a very quick and dirty overview of my first week in this MOOC. It represents my attempt to create scaffolding around the massive amount of content and conversation that is being generated. So far I feel like I’ve just been peeking through a fence watching #edcmooc with an occasional shout out on Twitter. I would like to engage more thoughtfully (and publicly) with the actual content in Week 2. You can see the image below that I created to represent my Week 1 experience. It is best to go to the artifact itself so you can interact with the image.

For an interactive version of this artifact, click here.

ThingLink – First Attempt

Scaffold Photo Credit: j neuberger via Compfight cc