(Mis-) Understanding in a virtual world of a MOOC #change11

Language and culture of participants in a MOOC differ, And we do not know if we do understand each other correctly. Context and history of MOOC’ers differ and vary widely. We write messages and texts and we blog with a Model Reader in mind,  and big question is if our Model Reader and the real reader do have much in common.

We write or produce texts and presuppose a model of competence of the reader. The competences of the reader are mostly outside the text. But in the text we could try to build this competence of the reader. That is what teachers do, and we know it is very difficult to build competences of a reader in texts.

In a MOOC differences are great. More differences in a MOOC than in a classroom? In the Change MOOC teachers are guests. They try to know their audience, but that is really very difficult given the short time they are part of the MOOC.

In F2F situations humans are able to signal misunderstanding better (but not very good) than in a virtual environment. Because facial expressions and other signals are missing in the MOOC environment, and these  signals do vary in different cultures.

Question: is (mis-) understanding  a problem in a MOOC?

(more about Model Reader in The role of the reader, explorations in the semiotics of texts, Umberto Eco)

source image: click on image

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8 thoughts on “(Mis-) Understanding in a virtual world of a MOOC #change11

  1. Thanks, Jaap, this is such an interesting question. I don’t experience much (mis)understanding in a MOOC like #change11…and, if I do have moments of misunderstanding, they seem to be easily resolved with further exchange between myself and another (or by others joining in the discussion).

    I come to this mooc with more of an intentional pursuit of understanding than I might approach a work assignment, a F2F meeting or other task in which I need to ‘prove’ that I am right or in control. In a MOOC, I am more humble, more acutely aware of my limitations, seeking to ‘go with the flow’ (literally and figuratively). I hope that helps? Happy new year! 🙂

  2. Yes, it is a very interesting question and one which I has been running around in my mind too.
    Like, Brainysmurf I haven’t experienced too much misunderstanding and always find that participants are willing to clarify, or amplify their writings. I have found that WRITING blog posts has been quite challenging. I am mindful of writing for some one that may be coming ‘cold’ to my writing, so I try to build some context, and give some shape or structure to the writing. Normally my blog writing for personal purposes is more fluid, loose, and disconnected so I find writing for publication demands a different skill set. I have spent time looking around for models of effective blog writing. I find writing that is open, engaging,asks questions provides and includes a visual temptation, seems to ‘allow’ the reader ‘ a way into’ the topic and for me provides accessibility and a direct invitation… So whilst the facial expressions and other non verbal cues are not present in the Mooc, I think people use other methods to build communication and promote dialogue.

    I have noticed that when there is a misunderstanding in say an online session, the participations do seem very open to trying to clarify the discussion.

    I enjoyed your post.

  3. Liz, Thank you for your comment. Agree, writing is the hard part of blogging.
    The visual temptation is a nice way to enrich the blogpost. Makes the post more attractive and adds meaning.

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