Both Brennan and Downes argue eloquently in stating their view on MOOC’s and by extension connectivism. Ironically, Brennan’s article begins with the premise that there is “no one size fits all”, and then both Downes and Brennan continue their arguments based on a single learning characteristic depending on the focus of the debate. This means they are both correct! And isn’t that the point of educational systems?
Brennan and Downes both agree that self-motivation and self-efficacy is important to learning, and that the learner must want to learn. However, Brennan states there is no support for learning in the connectivism model where teachers “help shape that script. We set tasks that are challenging, and achievable, and we create environments that allow achievement to happen” to enable motivation through self-efficacy. Downes argues that whilst recognising it’s a smaller role, there is always a motivation reasoning set out by the teacher. “Very rarely does a teacher simply set out a task that the student can simply choose to do or not do. When teachers set tasks, there is almost invariably an element of coercion involved”.
Dowes main thrust of argument is that MOOC have the same innate issues that face to face teaching experiences, but they are viewed through different lenses. Brennan argues that in an MOOC...
To learn in a cMOOC you need to connect.
To connect in a cMOOC you need to learn.
to which Dowes counters with...
To learn in traditional education you need to be able to read.
To be able to read in traditional education you need to learn.
Both Brennan and Dowes make equal weighted points that lead us back to the fact that learning styles are individual and again, some learners are better suited to delivery of certain content in different ways. Classrooms are shrinking and becoming more personalized. Differentiation, UDL and accommodations are growing to allow a larger range of individuals and individual learning styles to succeed in learning. MOOC’s will find it difficult to measure how deep the learning goes as efficiently as a face to face teacher. Learning is not as simple as the acquisition of knowledge, but how the context of that knowledge is explored and exploited in thr future.
The difference is observed in the film "Good Will Huning". Whilst Sean (Robins Williams) explains to Will (Matt Damen) that whilst he knows everything there is to know about everything, he has never experienced anything, and consequently can not make a deeper life connection to his knowledge.1
1 Damon M. Affleck B. Good Will Hunting, Park Scene
Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: A guide to understanding the MOOC novice. Hybrid Pedagogy. 24 July 2013.
Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the Primal Scream. Half an Hour. 25 July 2013.