ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning

July 2, 2014

It_is_all_in_the_questions_we_ask_fenwick_propel2014Last week I attended the very inspirering ProPEL Conference 2014: Professional Matters: materialities and virtualities of professional learning. 

I recommend tjecking out the programme booklet with abstracts as well as the ProPEL homepage with (among other) link to their new blog.

Going back home from attending a conference allways make me think: “what was the important stuff I bring with me back?”

In this case it has different forms, some of which was gained through participation in the conference twitter #2014propel dialogues. For instance: “Pedagogies of noticing” was something I had never heard of before. I definitely will look more into this, as I believe that this relates very much to the paper I presented at ProPEL, and furthermore to the paper I have presented in May 2014 at the Designs for Learning Conference.

Also, I brought a new book “Reconceptualising Professional Learning – Sociomaterial knowledges, practices and responsibilities” (Fenwick & Nerland, 2014) back with me. At a glance it looks extremely relevant and interesting. The introduction has already convinced me that it is going to be a read worth while.

Tara Fenwick held a captivating opening speech emphasizing the importance of the questions we ask as researchers. I noted two important questions:

- What is professional knowledge and capability becoming in this era of rapidly changing work?

- How can education better support this becoming?

I was happy that the paper I presented at ProPEL seemed to fit right in, and it also received quite positive response and spured interesting questions to pursue further. The paper is related to our VIOL project, focusing on welfare technology, innovation, care and learning:


Welfare technology is taking up increasing space in health care debates, policies and professions in Denmark and worldwide. In Denmark, recent national and municipal health care strategies emphasize a radical refurnishment of the health care sector. Telemedicine, telehealth and homecare, empowerment and citizen-centric approaches are invoked as passages to the innovation of future health care practices.New actors in these health care movements are concepts like “epital” (virtual hospital), “telemedicine”,“telemonitoring”, “outmitted” and “self treating” patients. All of these movements are associated with what it implies to be working with and focusing on welfare technology. Digital technologies are seen as central actors in working with welfare technology in the professions, and central actors in forwarding the so-called new health care paradigm. In Denmark, recent research into developments of the nurse profession state that nurses increasingly experience rapid introduction of new digital technologies into their daily work practices. When it comes to the physiotherapy profession, there is a lack of knowledge about recent developments in the health care sector, and its implications for the physiotherapy profession.

In 2002 empirical philosopher Annemarie Mol stated that the new meaning of “is” is situated. Being is situated. In this spirit, welfare technology is basically about (rapidly and digitally) changing the sociomaterial configurations of health care situations – that is moving the “is” of health care practices.This paper places professional sensibility towards sociomaterially shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements as a central literacy related to the new emphasis on digitally/tele supported health care practices. With the new health care movement, we foresee increasing needs for professionals that are able to navigate between and continuously develop new professional sensibilities, related to the rapid changing situations of the professional knowledge and engagement spaces.This foregrounds being able to professionally sense and provide answers to this question as increasingly important: what are the specific implications for the professional knowledge and engagement spaces,when introducing this or that digital technology into the health care situation? Engaging with this question presupposes professional relational sensibility towards practical (sociomaterial) arrangements of alternative health care practices, and towards their implications for enacting variations of good and bad passages to the “is” of health care practices. In other words, this paper also places an argument for the increasing importance of comparative literacy in the health care profession. This is presented as“professional relational comparative sensibility”.

The paper refers to a large ongoing professional education development project at University College Zealand (UCSJ) in Denmark. The project is called Welfare Technology, Innovation, Care and Learning. It runs from January 2013 – December 2014, and includes developing welfare technology related teaching and learning practices in and across eight professional bachelor programmes at UCSJ. The project’s ambition is to further develop educational programmes in order to better raise students’ “technological literacy”.

This paper takes point of departure in the ongoing refurnishment of the health care sector, and relates these movements to two case examples from the first empirical phase of the project (January 2013–August 2013). The two cases provide different analogies to what it means to “refurnish sensitivity buttons”. The first case “health clinic and digital patient portfolios” is from module eight at the Bachelor of Physiotherapy Degree Programme. The second case “virtual rehabilitation” is from a Danish health center. The empirical gatherings are methodologically inspired by Annemarie Mol’s approach to praxiography. After a discussion of praxiography as a methodological approach to engaging with technological literacy (in this instance), the paper places technological literacy in relation to professional education in general, and more closely to the Physiotherapy Degree Programme in Denmark and at UCSJ. Thereafter, the paper presents the two cases, and refers to Moser and Law’s concepts of “extension”, “specificity”,“passages”, “bad passages”, “better passages”, as a means to engage in a relational comparative sensibility towards the shifting contexts of knowledges and engagements in physiotherapy practices.”


Fremtidens sundhedsvæsen: Brug for nyt, kritisk og konstruktivt blik på teknologien

May 14, 2014

Fremtidens sundhedsvæsen: Brug for nyt, kritisk og konstruktivt blik på teknologien

Nu er der mulighed for at få et yderligt indblik i vores arbejde med velfærdsteknologiundervisning i UCSJ. Se denne lille artikelrække, der formidler historier, vinkler og perspektiver fra vores igangværende EU projekt Velfærdsteknologi, Innovation, Omsorg og Læring.


Technological literacy and innovation education – Designs for Learning 2014

May 5, 2014

VIOLI am really looking forward to be spending quality time with inspiring researcher colleagues at the Designs for Learning 2014 conference in Stockholm – 6.-9. maj 2014.

Friday I will be presenting some of my own research on “Technological literacy and innovation education – how new technologies changes and challenges the profession and the professional relationships”.

We look forward to receiving other people’s perspectives on our work. The paper presents research related to our large ongoing professional education development project at University College Zealand (UCSJ) in Denmark. The project is called Welfare Technology, Innovation, Care and Learning (In Danish: Projekt Velfærdsteknologi, Innovation, Omsorg og Læring). It runs from January 2013 December 2014, and includes developing welfare technology related teaching and learning practices in and across eight professional bachelor programs at UCSJ. The project’s ambition is to further develop educational programs in order to better raise students’ “technological literacy” – that is students acquiring “competencies for using, assessing, and innovating new welfare technological solutions in their professional field” (Source: Project application).

Full Designs for Learning 2014 conference program and all abstracts/papers are available here. Just click on a name, and the pdf. will pop-up :-).

Den_Europæiske_SocialfondUCSJRUCRegion Sjælland




Velfærdsteknologi og professionsudvikling

April 23, 2014

Velfærdsteknologi og professionsudvikling

Velfærdsteknologi og professionsudvikling

Velfærdsteknologi skaber muligheder og udfordringer – Hvordan skabes dynamisk udvikling, hvor både borgere og professionelle medvirker? Oplæg, aktiviteter og diskussion.

Forskningens Døgn




Elise Bromann Bukhave, Uddannelseschef for Bioanalytikeruddannelsen og Ergoterapeutuddannelsen, Campus Næstved.


Kl.13:05 – 13.35                 

Robotteknologi og udvikling af praksis

Kitt Vestergaard, Lektor i Forskningsprogram for Regional udvikling og Velfærdsinnovation, Forskning og Innovation.

  • Hvordan kan robotteknologi bidrage til udvikling af praksis i sundhedsvæsnet – kan robotter forbedre behandling og pleje?
  • Hvordan kan fremtidens sundhedsprofessionselle arbejde helhedsorienteret med robotteknologi i konkrete praksissammenhænge?

Fokus på den ændrede rollesætning i samspillet mellem patient/borger og den sundhedsprofessionelle.


Kl.13:35 – 14.10                 

Brugerinvolvering i teknologiudvikling

Play Alive A/S og Niels Henrik Helms, Chef for Forskning og Innovation.

Hvordan skaber vi praksisudvikling i stedet for snæver teknologiudvikling, og, hvordan kan vi involvere studerende på en autentisk måde, der både skaber udvikling i professionsfeltet og dynamisk læring for de studerende?

Erfaringer med rehabilitering og interaktive teknologier samt afprøvning i praksis.


Kl.14:10 – 14.45               

“Workshop all inclusive” (Kaffe, kage og kollektiv hjernecelleaktivitet)

Dorte Guling, Uddannelseschef for Sygeplejerskeuddannelsen og Therese Llambias, Lektor i Forskningsprogram for Regional udvikling og Velfærdsinnovation, Forskning og Innovation.


Kl.14:45 – 15.45               

Telesundhed, professionsnydannelser og læring. Det nære sundhedsvæsen.

Mikala Hansbøl, ph.d. og forsker fra Education Lab – Forskningsprogram for teknologi og uddannelsesdesign, Forskning og Innovation, Annette Jørgensen, Lektor ved Fysioterapeutuddannelsen i Roskilde, Kirsten Teglgaard Lund, Lektor ved Sygeplejerskeuddannelsen i Roskilde.

Telesundhed, telemedicin, velfærdsteknologi, sygepleje, behandling og træning via skærme i hjemmet, selvmonitorering og hjemmeomsorg. Alle disse ord, repræsenterer nyere praksisser indenfor sundhedsprofessionerne og konkrete ommøbleringer i sundhedsvæsenet.

  • Men hvilke praksisser og ommøbleringer?
  • Hvordan repræsenterer de professionsnydannelser?
  • På hvilke måder bliver de nye telemedierede praksisser medskabende for forandringer af relationerne mellem den sundhedsprofessionelle og patienterne?
  • Hvordan udfordrer de nye bevægelser vores måder at tænke i professionsuddannelse og læring på?

Oplægget giver et bud på nogle tendenser i tiden, og tager konkret afsæt i empiriindsamlinger fra et stort forsknings- og udviklingsprojekt i University College Sjælland med fokus på Velfærdsteknologi, Innovation, Omsorg og Læring. Eksemplerne hentes fra henholdsvis fysioterapeut og sygeplejerskefeltet.

Kl.15:45 – 16.00               

Opsamling og diskussion, Velfærdsteknologi og professionsudvikling – hvordan ser fremtidens udfordringer ud?



Farvel og tak.


The question of representation: Have MOOCs adressed really central educational challenges?

March 10, 2014

Thomas Ryberg posted a link on Twitter which made me aware of this great interview “A free education online: too good to be true? – video debate” with (among other) Diana Laurillard who asks the central question: Have MOOCs adressed really central educational challenges?

During the interview – which I recommend seeing – the problem of representation is adressed: who and what is being represented when, how and where, when dealing with MOOCs? The interview also points at the importance of acknowledging local and distributed learning – both as ways to adress equality.

The interview goes straight to the core of educational challenges and how they may actually also become enlarged rather than decreased with current MOOC workings.

I have enrolled in the ongoing Scientific Humanities and Carpe Diem MOOC. Both are designed and run by key figures within their respective knowledge areas: Science and Technology Studies (Bruno Latour) and eLearning Design (Gilly Salmon). This is one of the reasons why I have enrolled.

I have wondered about the fundamental differences between these two MOOC courses and the university courses – I was familiar with – run by the Institute of Education and Pedagogy (DPU/Aarhus University) where I worked during 2002-2012 as a researcher and university teacher. These two MOOC courses have one prominent figure who’s ideas are widely disseminated and maybe (I am in the middst of these courses – so I do not know how they will end) their ideas are not disputed or really up for discussion?

The university courses I have been teaching previously, have all had this commen denominator: a fundamental acknowledgement of knowledge being produced through several scientific approaches to a matter, which of course deeply influences what becomes the matter. The courses I have taught, have all taken point of departure in a strong emphasis on the historical and cultural foundations of knowledge.

Of course it is possible also in university to take a special course relating to a particular methodology or subject area. However, the above mentioned interview made me think, that when we talk about localized and distributed learning, it is important also to keep in mind, what may become the new power relations of knowledge, as we are shifting out and adding to the platformations of our historical ways of distributing knowledge.

Thomas Ryberg (in his Twitter comment) and the interview mentioned above bring forward important concerns regarding the politics of knowledge: for instance, the issue of developing countries and their knowledge forms (currently) being underrepresented and perhaps even repressed. Also, if videobased instructions become the new acknowledged way of education, what kinds of societal concequences would that bring about? What if governments and/or citizens were to start believing that key figures from certain elite universities possess better knowledge than their own professors and university teachers?

There is a lot of really important relationships and a lot of politics to take into consideration when working with MOOCs.

We need NOT TO FORGET the allways important question of REPRESENTATION!


Undersøgelsesdesign – Videnskabsteori MOOC

March 10, 2014

September 2013 – december 2014 udvikler og forsker UCSJ og RUC i gratis og fleksible måder at udbyde uddannelse på via MOOCs (Multiple Open Online Courses – se evt. denne danske introduktion til fænomenet i UC-sektoren).

MOOC-projektet er en del af et større innovationsprojekt “Læring Uden Grænser” – (LUG – delprojekt A – Uddannelsesinstitutionelle Grænser) støttet af den Den Europæiske Fond for Regionaludvikling. Projektet undersøger hvordan digitale teknologier og nye koblinger i form af netværk- og institutionssamarbejde kan mindske grænser for læring i Region Sjælland.

Den næste år udvikles og udbydes en række MOOCs (se http://moocz.dk/), der skal generere og formidle ny viden om, hvordan MOOCs kan udvikles på måder, så også regionale hensyn tages.

Udviklingen af og forskningen i Videnskabsteori MOOC’en (den case jeg arbejder med) tager afsæt i et nært samarbejde mellem Center for Videreuddannelse og Education Lab – forskningsprogram for teknologi og uddannelsesdesign, Afdeling for Forskning og Innovation, University College Sjælland. I Videnskabsteori MOOC projektet arbejder vi med et undersøgelsesdesign, der bl.a. trækker på inspiration fra design baseret forskning og Education Labs innovationsmodel (for en introduktion til denne se). Det betyder, at vi bl.a. benytter forskellige deltagerinvolverende og etnografisk inspirerede metoder i en løbende re-designproces. I arbejdet med Videnskabsteori MOOC’en vil vi operere med fire versioneringer i perioden fra september 2013 – december 2014.

MOOC projektet skal munde ud i en række designprincipper for hvordan regionale MOOCs kan udvikles og drives.

Dette blogindlæg beskriver nogle af vores foreløbige afsæt for undersøgelsesdesignet til den første MOOC i Videnskabsteori (PD modul). Undersøgelsesdesignet er også (foreløbigt) sammenfattet i en delrapport (UCSJ, februar 2014).

Videnskabsteori MOOC’en åbnede for tilmelding d. 3. marts 2014. Selve MOOC’en begynder d. 17. marts og strækker sig over 8 uger.

Videnskabsteori udbydes som et gratis, kursusforløb, hvor enhver kan tilmelde sig et forløb, der især retter sig mod professionsuddannelserne. MOOC’en bygger på elementer fra forskellige diplommoduler.

Der mangler MOOC studier, der inkluderer uddannelsesdesign som emergerende i konkrete uddannelsesforløb, og MOOC studier, der forholder sig til konkrete og forskellige personers heterogene læringsveje. Endvidere mangler der case studier, der også konceptualiserer samspillet mellem læring, de lærende og MOOCs i praksis, på nye måder, der ikke kun favner de (måske) få deltagere der følger forløbet som det er tænkt og udbydes fra A-Z.

Forskningen i og arbejdet med udviklingen af uddannelsesdesigns til MOOCs er en kompliceret affære – ligesom al anden forskning i og udvikling af uddannelsesdesigns – der knytter an til forskellige teoretiske, videns- og teknologifilosofiske samt pædagogisk-didaktiske, uddannelsesinstitutionelle og metodiske grundudgangspunkter.

Videnskabsteori MOOC’en og arbejdet med denne case skal forstås med afsæt i post-MOOC-hype landskabet (se evt. også mit blogindlæg “MOOCs – tracing a phenomenon multiple“). Det betyder helt konkret, at arbejdet med udviklingen af Videnskabsteori MOOC’en skal bidrage til de nyere bevægelser hen imod at nuancere vores forståelser og konceptualiseringer af MOOCs og uddannelsesdesign, og hvordan forskellige MOOC designs aktualiseres som relevante i praksis, og – navnlig – hvordan udviklingen af disse nye uddannelsesdesigns hænger sammen med udviklingen af læringsmuligheder for konkrete MOOC deltagere i praksis. Det vil sige, at vi har som ambition at situere Videnskabsteori MOOC’en i forhold til forskellige MOOC deltageres konkrete hverdagsliv,  personlige interesser, forudsætninger, deltagelsespraksisser, -muligheder, læringsbehov og personlige målsætninger.

Hertil kan føjes, at MOOC litteraturen hidtil primært har beskæftiget sig med universitetsuddannelse, og der er stort set ikke skrevet noget om MOOCs i en dansk sammenhæng. Kjærgaard et al. (2013) leverer et første dansk bidrag, der beskriver udviklingen indenfor MOOCs og kobler MOOCs med professionshøjskolerne i Danmark. Både i denne nyere danske artikel og mere generelt i MOOC litteraturen ses en tendens til at overse læring som centralt begreb og hovedudfordring (se evt. dette interessante interview med flere centrale MOOC udviklere, forskere og udbydere i verden). Læringsteoretiske diskussioner er generelt en mangelvare i såvel MOOC mediediskursen som i MOOC litteraturen, hvor læring ofte sættes lig med deltagelse, og der antages at være et 1-1, umiddelbart, dekontekstualiseret og akulturelt forhold mellem fri/gratis/åben uddannelse og læring. Det er måske en af grundende til at det faglige indhold ligeledes sjældent er i fokus i MOOC litteraturen.

Vi betragter det som en væsentlig del af et bidrag til en kontekstualiseret videreudvikling af forskning i og udvikling af MOOCs, at udviklingen af nye uddannelsesdesigns og tilhørende designprincipper knytter an til såvel uddannelsesform som fagligt indhold. Set ud fra et situeret perspektiv på læring (Lave og Wenger, 1991), må det betragtes som afgørende at betragte læring, uddannelsesform og indhold som nært forbundet.

Udgangspunktet for igangsættelse af arbejdet med udvikling og udbud af Videnskabsteori MOOC’en har således været et ønske om at udforske de uudnyttede potentialer der kan findes i koblingerne mellem eksisterende formelle uddannelsestilbud og læringsbehov i University College Sjælland (UCSJ.dk) og uformelle uddannelsestilbud og læringsbehov tilknyttet professioner og arbejdsfelter som UCSJ’s uddannelser henvender sig til.

Videnskabsteori MOOC’en skal betragtes som et uddannelseseksperiment, hvis primære mål er at bidrage til etablering af et grundlag for at generere konkret viden om og erfaringer med, hvordan det er muligt med MOOCs at udvide de læringsøkologiske rammer i Region Sjælland via etableringen af disse nye koblinger mellem professionsuddannelser og -arbejde.

Arbejdet med Videnskabsteori MOOC’en har indtil videre været fokuseret på:

1. Opbygning af en Videnskabsteori MOOC
2. Deltagerinvolverende problemidentifikationer og afgrænsninger af innovationspotentiale
3. Deltagerinvolverende udviklinger af det didaktiske design

Vi har udviklet interviewworkshops som en metode til at forbinde ambitionen om 1. dels at blive klogere på, hvordan videnskabsteori forbinder sig til deltagernes hverdag, 2. dels hvordan Videnskabsteori MOOC’en og dens relevans i hverdagen opleves af deltagerne, og 3. hvordan videreudviklinger af Videnskabsteori MOOC’en kan funderes i 1. og 2.

Videnskabsteori MOOC undersøgelsesdesignet er kvalitativt i udgangspunktet. Der findes ikke et solidt vidensgrundlag for kvalitativ forskning i MOOCs som vi kan basere vores undersøgelsesdesign på. Derfor skal designet – ligesom vores arbejde med udvikling af MOOCs – betragtes som eksperimentelt, og det består (indtil videre) af  følgende delelementer:

- Entry og exit surveys
- Deltagernes digitale logbog
- Virtuelle fokuserede enkelt og gruppe interviewworkshops med heterogene deltagere
- Virtuel etnografi (processuelle og kontekstuelle dokumentationer af online aktiviteter, MOOC versioneringerne, deltagernes opgavebesvarelser, quiz besvarelser, peer evalueringer mm.)

Design baseret forskning kritiseres indimellem for at være positivistisk anlagt. Det er væsentligt at understrege, at design baseret forskning – ligesom andre forskningstilgange – er en betegnelse der dækker over mange forskellige teoretiske inspirationskilder, metodiske tilgange og – ikke mindst formål. I arbejdet med Videnskabsteori MOOC’en henter vi inspiration i situeret, distribueret og relationel læringsteori og en relationel materialistisk teknologiforståelse.



MOOCs – Multiple Open Online Courses (tracing a phenomenon multiple)

March 7, 2014

I have enrolled in Bruno Latour’s Scientific Humanities MOOC. The following is (in a more or less re-medied form) my blogposts from week two and three assignments in the course. I think they form a nice introduction to my present research into MOOCs as part of the larger ongoing research and development project “Læring uden grænser” (in English: Learning without boarders).

#2 Bubble Exercise (floating statements): If 2012 was the year of the MOOC, 2013 was the year when online education fell back to earth

I have selected a statement, which relates to my current research into MOOCs. The article “The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course” (NRP.org, December 2013) takes up on the latest movements in what has been referred to as the “MOOC hype”. The statement I have selected is:

if 2012 was the year of the MOOC, then 2013 was the year when open education fell back to earth“.

The article I selected can in many ways be viewed as central to the MOOC hype. However, this does not mean that by following traces from this article, I will get to the most relevant sites of productions for this statement… Since we are asked to trace productions of scientific statements (and my selection of article illustrates that media discourses are important actors too), I will now follow the link to the “recent University of Pensylvania study“…

As it turns out, the link I choose to follow, is really a PDF version of a PPT presentation on the reporting of research with the purpose to “Understand the movement of a million users through Coursera courses offered by the University of Pennsylvania, June 2012 – June 2013” (Perna et al., MOOC Research Initiative Conference, December 5 2013, University of Pennsylvania, page 1).

I decided for my bubble exercise (floating statements) to be about the tracing of the rise of a statement (perhaps several). The PDF version of course lack a lot of the verbal glue that probably stuck to it within the frame of reference and target audiences for whom it was first produced. Now, it has been recontextualized as it exists as a link in an article, where it takes on the agency as backup knowledge and verification for the statement: “If 2012 was the year of the MOOC, 2013 was the year when online education fell back to earth”.

Furthermore, it has been designated as an actor in my assignment in this Scientific Humanities course. However, the statement I am working with is clearly located in a particular kind of bubble (maybe more than one, but at least the MOOC Hype), and performed from somewhere (the year of the MOOC in 2012). Furthermore, it is a statement performed in a bubble going somewhere else (online education heading back to earth in 2013). Within this machinery of argumentary equipment, the statement rises as a monument – a matter of fact.

However, if one starts to open up the different constructions taking part in producing the statement, making it strong, and furthermore, making it convincing. It will rather quickly appear differently constructed. For instance, the article disseminating the statement, refers to the MOOC as one (the MOOC) measurable thing, while part of what makes the MOOC travel back to earth, in the PDF, is the re-presentation of the MOOC. The researchers from University of Pennsylvania are looking into and acknowledging, that we are in fact not talking about one but many MOOCs. Many different modes of existences of MOOCs. In (too) short: to bring the MOOC back to earth, implies: 1. looking at it in context, 2. as a matter of many different movements, and 3. recognizing that it then multiplies.

One curiousity. The PDF which reports on research aiming to “Understand the movement of a million users through Coursera courses offered by the University of Pennsylvania, June 2012 – June 2013″ does not actually seem to take up what “movement of … users” actually means. Well, it is taken for granted that it is about going from A-Z in the course (from beginning to the end). But what about the ways users become affected by a MOOC? The ways in which a MOOC may affect users to become better equiped at learning and to become affected by some designated thing – the matter of learning? It is interesting that the matter of learning seems to take up little space in this MOOC bubble, while other forms of engagements gain much more weight in the debate as well as in research (so far….)

#3 socio-technical analysis: the case of the theory of science MOOC

Let me begin by stating an uncertainty as to whether my project “the theory of science MOOC” (an actual project I am working on/with) qualifies as a project here. I am asking myself this, because it is not a tangible object as in the case of airplanes, doorhandles and dolls. However, it is very much a socio-technical being emerging in-between relationships with the complex ecologies of today’s world. Furthermore, I choose this being, because it is the kind of being which I am (mostly) challenged with in my daily work as an e-learning researcher/educational anthropologist/techno-anthropologist/design-based researcher/(applied) science and technology studies researcher.

So how to begin the socio-technical analysis? Particularly when it is difficult to establish (to begin with) the boundaries of this project and it’s different forms of existences – it’s different materialisations. Danish STS researcher, Casper Bruun Jensen, has written a nice piece adressing this challenge “Researching partially existing objects”.

I would like to add myself into the equation. The theory of science MOOC comes into being through it’s partial engagements with me (not the least because I will here perform the articulations of it’s forms of beings). I am a researcher interested in MOOCs as educational phenomena, and furthermore I collaborate with diploma programmes about the development and launch of a theory of science MOOC (diploma programme) – the first MOOC to be launched by University College Zealand. The theory of science MOOC case is one case among several underway as part of the larger ongoing research and development project called “Learning without boarders” (running from September 2013-December 31 2014). I work as a researcher in Education Lab – Research Programme for Technology and Educational [instructional] Design (unfortunately we do not exist in English at the homepage).

Anyhow, I am not going to trace the actual beginnings of the Learning without boarders project here. I will try to articulate what I believe to be the fundamental analytical challenge of researching a MOOC that appears as an educational course. Benjamin Carett stated, in his analysis, that “to be technical means to be both designed and constantly reconfigured by its users” (Scientific Humanities course materials). Furthermore, in this section of the course, Latour stated that simplified visualizations: “helps you to grasp technology as a project and not as an object. Or rather, the object exists, but only as a cross-section that instant“.

I would like to engage with a few of the momentary existences of the theory of science MOOC in it’s so far rather short-lived live. In a cloud-supported world, installations and re-installations are becoming easier and hence we also see that educational evolution has gained speed. So we are already dealing with version 3.0 of the theory of science MOOC – to be launched on March 17 2014.

I am not the one developing the MOOC, really. I have a magnificent diploma programme colleague (Malene Erkmann) who has been spending huge amounts of working hours producing the different versions off the MOOC (run via Moodle). The theory of science MOOC, as you may already have noticed, has in many different senses been ‘born in captivity’. We are dealing with a form of being which is, on the one hand, deeply entangled with people and professional educational practices and institutions in Denmark – more specifically University College Zealand. On the other hand, we are also dealing with a form of being that carries expectations (riding a bit on the MOOC hype) to become an assistant in helping University College Zealand engage with ‘utopian horizons’ (I owe this formulation of a project – though a different one – emerging in-between being ‘born in captivity’ and moving towards ‘utopian horizons’ to good colleagues in University College Zealand – Anne Sievert and Helle Storm).

So how is it possible to identify the theory of science MOOC within this landscape of so many different actors? Any one description of the movements ‘of’ the MOOC would be highly political, in the sense that it would foreground some relationships rather than other. Also, in order to do any description, I must be positioned differently from e.g. the diploma programme teacher who has been sitting at home and at work, Mondays-Sundays, from morning til evening, developing (designing and compositioning) the different articulations and appearances of the MOOC. She is the designer and re-designer Benjamin Carrett is referring to. I may be designated as a kind of user. Though really I am not. I take part in the design proces, and I may participate in the MOOC while conducting research, but I am not the imagined actual user/participant of the MOOC.

Where am I going with all this? I should speed up and jump forward (thus skipping all kinds of important relationships). I will add some actors to this already complicated assemblage:

1. teachers with experience in teaching theory of science modules at different professional bachelor’s programmes and diploma programmes.

2. potential MOOC participants in the form of people from different professional work and education contexts.

3. other MOOCs and

4. existing knowledge about MOOCs represented in the form of various kinds of reports and articles.

[the following is much too short and more illustrative than accurate! and it does not entail anything about what it implies to "test" - ]

Version 1.0 Very raw MOOC with almost only digital ressources A teacher from bachelor in physiotherapy and a teacher from B. Ed. programme for primary and lower secondary school teachers testing one week (January 2014) Result: more emphasis on this theory of Science MOOC being an APPLIED theory of science MOOC. Less focus on it being a diploma programme MOOC.

Version 2.0 A little less raw MOOC with more metacommunicative text and materials, assignments and peer evaluation Five potential MOOC participants testing one week (January-February 2014) Result: Much more emphasis on collaboration, and narration of different sequences, assignments etc. – to frame with narratives that guides participants’ engagements.

Version 3.0 Eight week MOOC course fully developed and launched fully open for all Danish citizens to register by March 3 2014. Results: to be seen…

I hope that the above have illustrated that any form of description of the MOOC and it’s different forms of existence and movements/translations also entails positioning the MOOC in-between human actors that engage partially with the MOOC.

I am inspired by Marilyn Strathern’s book “Partial Connections”, when stating: that the MOOC must be understood both by what it momentarily partially contains and the ways it becomes momentarily partially contained.

The inscription of the MOOC into different descriptions is an endevour to be worked with all the time. There is no ONE theory of science MOOC to function as A frame of reference for moving around it with different perspectives on it. The MOOC itself is on the move through the different compositions and re-compositions of what it is made of, and how it becomes engaged under different circumstances, as it becomes entangled with various human-non-human actors.

In other words, in order to articulate the theory of science MOOC and it’s different modes of existences, one must engage with it’s shifting platformations (= as an alternative to engage with it as an already existing platform to move to and from – this is an argument and a concept I have tried to develop in my PhD thesis “Researching Relationships Between ICTs and Education – Suggestions for a science ‘of’ movements” (2009).

#3 socio-technical analysis 2: MOOCs and some of the automata of our time

I am re-allocating myself with regards to the assignment, and will now try to approach it a bit differently. The course material states:

“Now that you have understood the main concepts, you should prepare yourself to follow the socio-technical assemblage that surrounds you. The general idea is to build a mental space where you may register the following points to convert the object that you have chosen as your departure point in a project :

  • register some of the episodes of its history by listing what it relies on and what it fights against at various moments of time.
  • organize those successive lists so that they can be seen simultaneously.
  • detect what changes in the list of friends and enemies has made the project more realistic or less realistic”

Latour warns us, that enemies and friends may come in different disguises. Furthermore, a bit later, we are encouraged to pay attention to break-downs.

The Simon Schaffer BBC movie clips about clockworks (Scientific Humanisties course materials) and the strive for automata while co-constructing the industrial world, were fascinating.

I will try to connect some of these threads with the phenomenon of MOOCs.

According to much literature (insert ref.) the first MOOC can be dated back to 2008 (a so called connectivist MOOC – cMOOC – developed by Downes and Siemens – though coined by a third person). Because of the labelling, this “first” MOOC then became the beginning of the MOOC as a global event. The birth of the MOOC, however, did not just come out of nowhere. It was born in “captivity” with several allies and enemies, break-downs and a lot of workings that took part and still participates in making the MOOC such an out-standing event (to mention a few of the more obvious):

  • Open Education researchers and designers
  • the imaginary and quite common agreement of the 21st century world being a knowledge (sharing) world
  • ubiquitous and pervasive computing (everyday digitalization)
  • cloud computing (development and administration in the sky)
  • educational paradigm shift from instructivist to social constructivist pedagogy
  • the construction of education as a democratic venture
  • the construction of a world in crisis, with less resources (e.g. “less warm hands”)and the need to develop more cost-efficient societal forms in order to maintain Western wellfare societies’ living standards.
  • the belief in innovation and (new) digital information and communication technologies as the way forward…

According to literature (insert ref.) we can talk about a bifurcation of the MOOC (which is interestingly quite similar to the construction of an educational paradigm shift – I’m thinking that Latour’s “we have never been modern” point is interesting here!) which is related to some of the world’s largest and elite universities picking up on the idea of Massive Open Online Courses. They, however, did not pursue MOOCS along the lines of the so called cMOOCs but instead (to some extent) re-medied lecture based teaching into what could be termed as the second industrialization of education (in the form of so called xMOOCs).

Of course this portraying of the (twin) MOOC(s) points to particular (Modern/Western) ways to engaging with the forms of the forms of constructions we are (too often) making – the patterns of connections. We have a tendency to portray development and innovation as a particular form of progression, taking the form of revolution – a leap from one “lesser” thing to another “greater”.

The twin MOOCs are really a partial result of particular ways to enact the history of new technology and it’s relationships with(in) science and society.

Interestingly, the same story and movement can be portrayed and is currently being invoked in relation to the healthcare sector (also invoking the so called new paradigm of the health care sector). Of course, here we are dealing with real life and death, so this is a differently serious matter.

“Automata” is an interesting concept. Citizens of the future are expected to be more self motivated, self educating, self monitoring, self governing… And new (digital) so called wellfare (a curiously normative label) technologies are simultaneously becoming more smart and intelligent….

Just some thoughts on the workings of techniques and the various new forms of “automata” at play in today’s world…

P.S. DrewK2014 just posted “Project transformation: MOOCs meet World of Warcraft”. This post is a nice illustration of the “MOOC war” of the cMOOC and xMOOC currently taking place and playing a central role in keeping the event of the MOOC alive. Each side has it’s own enemies, allies, break-downs, automata, delegations etc.

#3 Socio-technical analysis 3: If you want to understand something, build it

Simon Schaffer begins in the first BBC video clip on Clockworks  (Scientific Humanities course material) by saying: “… If you want to understand something, build it.”

Latour tells us to be aware of break-downs.

We are neither being told what a break-down is nor what it implies to build.

Building things involves multiple break-downs. Breaking things into different pieces that can come together. Breaking up things in order to move to different places. Aligning matters in order to differentiate and create distinctions. Break-downs may be intentional disturbances and movements neither foreseen nor wished for. Many new constructions are anticipated to move things forward. In that same movement some things are left behind.

I think that what Schaffer really is pointing to is the fact that what is left behind, what is moved forward, what is added (AND) and substituted (OR) cannot be defined ahead of the concrete construction of things. It always emerges as things are gathered (and split).

This is the true difficulty. The future of things is (mostly) uncertain and unstable.

Each time we add a new actor we are changing both what is, what where, and what will be.

So we might want to pay attention to both new liaisons and enemies, new alignments and disengagements (dis-)appearing. In addition to that we should pay particular attention to the re-mediations of “automata” (that is: things taken for granted, natural things, things existing as stable forms).

In the case of the Theory of Science MOOC , this raises a lot of questions. If the actual movements are not to be positioned at the beginning of a project, but rather to be viewed as partial end-results, then we are dealing with very difficult stuff: we introduce a new technology to change things in particular places and for particular people, but what really happens is a fundamental alteration of a lot of relationships not anticipated.

E.g. We introduce a new educational form in University College Zealand, in the form of a MOOC. This MOOC is meant to align Region Zealand in Denmark with new educational tendencies in the world. This movement is envisioned to strengthen the educational competencies of the region.

A good opening question would be: what does it emerge as a concrete alternative to?

If it is supposed to lift the learning ecology of the region, it must lift it into better places. How is that performed, and what does it mean to lift?

Also, if it is supposed to be aligned with educational tendencies in the world, then what characterizes these?

If innovation is an end result – a momentary appearance of being-in-novation – then it must be central to keep alert to the past, present and future appearances of things.

So what is the Theory of Science MOOC momentarily aligned with?

I tried to show in my first blogpost relating to this week’s assignment that there is no one simple answer to this. It is a particular difficult question to answer with a fluid being like a MOOC.

I’d like to add here another important point: In spite of our MOOC work being part of and relatable to international MOOC workings; what MOOC actually appears to be (= it’s agencies) at University College Zealand and in Region Zealand – when understood as what I’ve termed a “constellations driven innovation” (Hansbøl, unpublished paper from 2011) – is also a very local accomplishment. There is no global MOOC with particular competencies to simply move into our region. It is a very different kind of phenomenon than knives and door handles.

It is interesting, that when talking about MOOCs, the conversation often becomes centered around two main kinds of MOOCs (xMOOCs and cMOOCs).

It would of course probably take part in breaking down the phenomenon if this was not the case ;-).

Today (March 7 2014) I have stumpled upon two texts (adding to the many texts we are gathering for instance via Zotero) that illustrate and support my points:

“Reviewing the trajectories of e-learning” written by Professor Grainne Conole illustrates how MOOCs can be looked at as merely one emerging feature [one emerging momentary end-result] of the focus on e-learning that has several decades on it’s back.

“The pedagogy of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): the UK view” written by Siân Bayne and Jen Ross, the University of Edinburgh. This report illustrates the beginning more widespread acknowledgement of the phenomenon of MOOCs being a multiple phenomenon (not merely a matter of two kinds).

In addition: Summaries from The MOOC Research Initiative Conference (held on December 5, 2013) point to a new beginning in the area of MOOCs. Keynote Bonnie Stewart describes it as entering the post-MOOC-hype landscape. So perhaps we can now speak about three very different MOOC moments:

1. The coining of the first (c)MOOC (2008) – the MOOC singularity era

2. The cMOOC and xMOOC hype (2008-2012) – the MOOC duality and war era

3. MOOCs on earth (2013-) – the MOOC multiplication era

Too be continued…

On-Line writings – Copyright

The online writings on this website may be cited or briefly quoted in line with the usual academic conventions. You may also copy or download them for your own personal use. However, the writings must not be published elsewhere (e.g. to mailing lists, bulletin boards etc.) without the author’s explicit permission.

Please note that if you copy my writings you must:

• include this copyright note

• you should observe the conventions of academic citation in a version of the following form:

e.g. Hansbøl, Mikala (2014). “MOOCs – Multiple Open Online Courses (tracing a phenomenon multiple)”, published at Mikala’s Klumme – A researcher’s blog: http://mikalasklumme.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/moocs-multiple-open-online-courses-tracing-a-phenomenon-multiple/. Version March 3 2014.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 259 other followers