As seen onFavicon for

The interpersonal contract in cMOOCs

We are entering the mid-point on Dave Cormier's Rhizomatic Learning 'uncourse' as some participants are calling it. I started an interesting conversation on Twitter about the interpersonal contract we are constructing


  1. We come from very different backgrounds and have a different sense not just of what the course may offer us but also about what counts as the way we will behave with each other as we form. 
  2. Some of the conversation started around the notion of a network and community: 'What are we?' 'What are we becoming?' 'What do we want to be?' and inevitably people have different views about this. When I facilitate events in offline life, this is the point at which I set aside any content to have a 'contracting conversation' about group norms and what we need to do in order to create the kind of learning environment that will support all participants. 
  3. "COP's tend to be characterised by unity of purpose - with conflict and resolution as part of that explicitly...
  4. I wish I could share my material but it is copyrighted by the organisation I lecture in. The dialogue is mainly one that uses the well worn metaphor of the iceberg as a descriptor of what happens in human interaction and the google offered this
  5. Around the same time I read a great first blog by @andeew38:

     "Learning and Organisational Change graduate student fascinated by people, inspired by change and driven by the belief that the former can create the latter. In the meantime, laugh out loud. And do yoga."

  6. She asks wonderful 'non-googlable' questions as she sets out to blog for her course this semester. One of them speaks to this story as she wonders 'How do individuals develop trust over technological platforms?' A question I still ask myself over a year after the start of my own experiment in being an open educator and learner. I then saw this
  7. DS106 was my first full time experiment as an online learner. I am involved in the community still and feel that it is a place where trust is fostered to enable learning. Yet, I never thought of my learning there as 'public learning'. I was learning 'in' the DS106 community yet clearly my portfolio for the course is public. In order to learn in public we need to feel the connection between the internet and our emotional connection. As educators we often engage in navigating the unresolvable polarity that is control on the one hand an freedom on the other. Christina wonders on Twitter and on her thoughtful post at what point in our desire to teach 'self-direction' we start to use our positional power to impose an ideology thus (in terms of our interpersonal process at least) acting as enforcers. Is there a contradiction brewing when we 'enforce autonomy'? 
  8. It is worth clicking on the date in Tweet above to see the long conversation that ensued. The dimension I see underneath much of our dialogue is this. Much of what is underneath the iceberg above plays out when we make choices about where we stand in relation to 'who is in control?' 'who should be in control? ' and 'who is in control really?' 
  9. I am alluding here to Argyris' idea of the difference between our theory-in-use and our espoused theory. I fear that working online enable our espoused theories to run wild and we have very little information about each other's theory in use. I find it hard to reconcile this idea with attending a course that is intended to improve my teaching practice. 
  10. Espoused Theory vs Theory in-use
  11. There are ways in which the difficulty in working with what is underneath the iceberg online is being tackled by different open educators. 
  12. A class manifesto is being created this week in #FutureEd as a way of having a contracting conversation as this group comes together. I am not part of that but I am interested to see that it is being seen as a kind of breakthrough in online learning. It really is just best practice in facilitation. 
  13. Again, this conversation is worth reading in full by clicking on the date. Students creating a bill of rights, with educators leaving them to it and then coming back to hear what they have agreed, and various recommendations as to how to archive the dialogue. I have been doing this with my learning sets for 20 years as I operate from a self-managed learning frame in my teaching and hence my teaching offers (or enforces?) high degrees of autonomy to students. I guess you would not attend a 'self managed learning masters' if you were expecting an XMOOC. Ian Cunningham the originator of the approach I work with has now moved on to work with secondary level students and has set up a self managed learning college. If you are interested you can hear him here talking about his rationale for setting it up being interviewed by one of his students. 
  14. The idea of a manifesto, or bill of rights for online learning seems to have been current as far back (?) as December 2012 when this was written,