CCK08 – Learning formations for this course

In a previous article, I had discussed the juxtaposition of Bruce Tuckman’s five stages of group formation and evolution on the characteristics of 2.0 learning formations. I think it is relevant, in Week 1, for me to try and assess how we are as a formation in terms of:

  • the stages (forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning),
  • the characteristics (life cycle – duration and phases, interaction frequency, interaction depth or complexity, extent of formal structures and formation size), and,
  • the articulation of a probable formal design methodology/model for learning 2.0 that involves Goals, Time,  Measurement, Improvement, Content/Knowledge (which I consider common foundations/elements in any learning situation) in a 2.0 context.

As a formation, we are at the forming stage. Opinions are being expressed (sometime emotional flaming), information overload being negotiated, technology being learnt, some individuals displaying initiative to socialize and some to start intellectual discussions – basically getting to know each other (or profile themselves in relation to the others in the formation) in mostly an open, critical and constructive manner.

We have well defined characteristics for this formation. There is a defined schedule and periodicity of formation interaction. If we look at the interaction frequency and (at least quantitatively) the depth, we have an interesting graph (I omitted one inflamed outlier).

Sep 11 introduction forum stats
Sep 11 introduction forum stats

Looks familiar (power law here)? About 50% posts had zero replies. About 48% had between 1-10 replies and the remaining greater than 10 replies.

If you look at the extent of formal structures in the course, there is a formal structure to the learning experience as demonstrated by the schedule of the course. However, Stephen and George are facilitating flow of ideas as experts, rather than imposing a structure to the discussion. Stephen’s daily serves as a informant and guide. The readings set up provide a flexible boundary for the content and discussion. As for the size, we have seen a curious phenomenon. The course itself has a large number of interested learners connecting together, but also creating sub-learning formations (e.g. a Hungarian group [linguistic group]). The sub formations also include, interestingly, people who share a common perspective, level of competence and common types of questions.

There was only a small subset that entered the elluminate sessions, and I would be really keen to take the chat and session transcripts and bring out statistics on interaction and expert guidance seeking, perhaps, also on the extent of chaos (the chat board was chaotic and distracting from the learning experience for me!).

Is there a formal design methodology here? I find that all aspects of what I consider a fundamental part of any learning experience – goals, time, measurement, improvements and content/knowledge – are all components of the way the course has been designed – except that their interpretation in a 2.0 world may be different and that Stephen does not entirely agree.

Hope you found this interesting! As always, I would love to hear any comments!

2 thoughts on “CCK08 – Learning formations for this course

Add yours

  1. Viplav,

    I think the phenomem you have observed is not different that say a project based environment (As I have expereinced in my compnay). Lots of eactivity at the beginning by everyone until they have found their roles, then a core group uses a few mechanisms to work together (while the remainder listen in to keep informed and some don’t even do that), and by the end of the project, there is only one or 2 people working. Is this part of a greater social phenomena?


  2. Hi Bradley,
    You are right. I think this is certainly part of a greater social phenomena. Let’s take WordPress blogging for instance or the use of mobile phones for internet access in India. In the former, there are over 4 million registered blogs and only 150,000 posts per day (I would say on average) or about 3.75% regular contributions. For the latter, there are 42mn mobile phone connections in India, but only about 9mn that use GPRS for internet connectivity. There are 1900+ registrations for this course but only 80-90 people turn up in an elluminate session (and even within that…).

    I am coming around to thinking that technology or not, this is a phenomenon that is widely observable. In fact, one of the online learning portals I was part of deemed users who took a single test in the entire month as one with a reasonable level of usage, while the vast majority took no tests at all! I find echoes of that with usage in social networks like Orkut. There is a long tail that sometime raises grave doubts in my mind whether the social networking phenomena are for real or hyperbole, unusable for serious connective and collective experiences.


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