Autonomy in a MOOC

Jonas Bäckelin in his fantastic EducatorProphet01 mentions autonomy as an important part of identity of a student in a collective.

Galileo’s Grandmother discusses the differences between group, community and  collective. She questions conclusions in Kop, Fournier, and Mak (A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support in Massive Open Online Courses) and autonomy is an (unmentioned) key word in her blog.

In Slow learning – learning while standing in the middle of your life Irene Gould does not mention autonomy. She learns from life: learn by thinking for yourself, don’t rely on others (schools etc.).

In Calling all Sages on the Side: Glenis Joyce writes about help and time consuming ways of learning. Here is a question about cost of autonomy. Autonomy is not  “I do not want you to help me”, autonomy is “Please help me find my own way”.

Jonas Bäckelin is the source of the images in this post.

This post is part of a discussion on Slow Learning. Clark Quinn did somehow evoke blogposts on autonomy and GPS. He ends the blog with a last question: “… but I think we need to start with the right conceptions. Some of my notions of design may be too didactic, after all, and we’ll need to couple information augmentation with meaning-making to make real progress, but I think this notion of stepping back and reflecting on what we might want to achieve and where we’re currently inadequate is an initial step….”
Big question is if autonomy is a gaol for education, how do we preserve autonomy when helping and teaching?
Creativity and autonomy: slow learning and time:


11 thoughts on “Autonomy in a MOOC

  1. Hi Jaap, nice movie on time, creativity and playfulness! Discover yourself!
    I’m not sure where you want to go with autonomy, what is your point on that?
    What about this? “Because autonomy is about you and starts from within you, it cannot be forced upon you. You, and you alone, can make the decision to start this journey. But just as good travelers listen to others and learn from their experiences, good learners are not islands. They rely on others to offer insights, and occasionally, show them the way (see

    (This post reminds of another post you wrote before (and I can’t find it) where you said “isn’t it a paradox to want to teach others in independence” (or something to that matter, sorry, can’t remember exactly)……)

  2. Hi Jaap, I’m soo happy you liked the ‘Educator Prophet’ and the picture you used is a re-mix from Shelly Terrells ( presentation “The Power of Personal Learning Networks: Transforming Our Teaching Through Social Media”. You ask -How do we preserve autonomy when helping and teaching? and according to David S. White and Alison Le Cornu in “Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement” we enter a new ‘knowledge domain’ as visitors (and need help and teaching) then as ‘Autonomy’ develops we are residents (who are integrated in the community).

  3. Hi Irene, Thank your for the reply. I see autonomy is an important subject in this blog. Autonomy is important because we (our society) need more independent creative people. I suspect some schools to unlearn autonomy. I think it over.

  4. Great video, Jaap, thank you! Lots to think about here in terms of autonomy, independence, self-direction, connectivity, feedback and so on. 🙂

  5. Hi Jaap,

    Autonomy reminds me of a course in travel writing taken a few years ago from the great Danial Wood in Vancouver. The travler journeys into unfamiliarity as a fully complete person while at the same time vulnerable and unguarded. Confidence without the blindness of certainty–a true learner. School is disrespectful (afraid?) of not knowing. Filling the student with knowing, anything will do, and test on it. Thinking? That’s allowed too, as long as it results in the “right” answer.

    If you take a guided tour of your own journey given by someone else you end up where they were going.


  6. Hi Scott, thanks for this nice story about traveling. I always escape the guide in these guided tours. Dave Cormier’s “.. I think of curriculum as an output of a course rather than an input, so i enter a course with an outline of study, or a syllabus and focus on helping students build their own curriculum. ..’ is a better way for a holiday or a journey. The whole story of the journey is ready when the glue the pictures in the album.

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