Ethics of connectivism in #change11

Adam_en_Eva_hof_van_Eden-Wenzel_PeterA MOOC is an attempt to apply connectivist theory. A MOOC is not only an applied epistemology and way of organizating learning, but also an ethic community.
Connectivism is about knowledge that exists in connections. Connections between people and their devices, and connections between information and knowledge components, etc. Without connections, no knowledge.
A MOOC is a way of learning. For higher order learning one needs attention. Alexandre Jollien, Le metier d’homme, éd. Du Seuil, Paris, (I did enjoy this little book) on attention and why we need other people. Jollien says autonomy does not imply non-connectedness. In his view connections, supportive human relations are crucial to autonomy. Heli: Psychological autonomy is a broader concept
Connectivism needs an ethics on connectivity and participation. I do not want to reopen a discussion on “lurking”. I do not want to make accusations. But without people investing time and attention in sharing knowledge a MOOC would be a dead environment.
A MOOC needs connected people.
An understanding of the complexity of social, conceptual, and biological connections along with the complexity of human needs and the diverse circumstances generating and emerging from these connections is an emerging process for connectivist understanding.

The ethics of connectivism is not an ethics of law and law-enforcement. The connectivist ethics is not of commandments, rules and accusations. In my view connectivism and philosophy of life do connect perfect.
The ethics of connectivism does not want to oblige people to connect, but to tempt, to invite, to seduce, to persuade to connect and to learn. If you want to enjoy the MOOC than you could help us by connecting. You could help us by making the MOOC a happy environment that fosters learning. We would love to share your enthusiasm and your company would make us happy.

Sui Fai John Mak: why do people leave the course (MOOC)? Could be a lack of motivation, due to the lack of connections, engagement and feedback when learning online.

In a MOOC are technical ways to connect. Howto connect to MOOC’ers.

Look at:


16 thoughts on “Ethics of connectivism in #change11

  1. I am really curious to see what replies you get to this post. I wonder if the protagonists of connectivism would welcome ethics of connectivism, and whether they would see them as meta-ethics, normative ethics or applied ethics
    I am very sympathetic to what you imply – that participants in a MOOC should make some sort of shared commitment. However, this seems in line with the group (vs network) approach that Stephen Downes seems to see as inferior to networks I was fairly committed to CCK08 and have watched with interest that the fairly intense interaction that took place there via Moodle forums (mainly IMHO) and blogs has been diluted in subsequent MOOCs from the same stable.
    My own view is that ‘real’ people engage in group and network behaviours in different roles and at different times and that they have their own ethics as individuals and as part of groups/networks to which they may feel they may belong.

  2. Thanks Frances, Downes is talking about groups vs networks. I am allergic to dichotomies, so this groups/networks dichotomy makes me nervous.
    The village I live in is neither a group nor a network. I am connected in different ways to a lot of people in this village. All this people have to live up to some ethics, and this ethics is not only some rules (about traffic signs and property) but the ethics is also about expectations. (about saying Hallo, keeping the village clean, making life in the village good). People in my village do care about the village in their own way, and together we keep the village running.
    In the How It Works page of the course is a list of rules and expectations, there is the ethics of the MOOC. 😉
    (I love to look at these tiny little facts, like this How It Works page. The little facts sometimes trip up big theory)

  3. I faded out of this Change MOOC very quickly because of other commitments. I just glance at the Daily newsletter when it comes in the mail. From that, my impression is that there is relatively little activity on the MOOC and that is focused around the weekly ‘lectures’. Am I mistaken? When I look at my interactions on my personal network, it’s interesting to see traces of the network I developed through participation in CCK08, where for me the richest interactions were on the Moodle forums (deemed too groupy and since abandoned by subsequent MOOCs for more networky tools and services). One of the more interesting discussions we had was critiquing the groups/network distinction. I found it to be normative and thin, rather like much of the current rhetoric about openness. As you suggest our lived lives are more nuanced and deserve a richer discussion.
    In my analysis, I found that connectivism was a phenomenon rather than a theory

  4. Frances, activity faded away is also my impression, not so much blogs and not so many twitter-persons and Facebook members active. Change is a very wide and also not always attractive subject is my feeling.
    Thanks for the link to your article.

  5. Perhaps the ethic of sharing is not well articulated within the current conversation on Connectivism, and therefore, as learners functioning in that mode, we feel less compunction to share.

    We are after all shaped by the conversation in which we participate. I don’t recall, in any of my readings or conversations on Connectivism, a suggestion learners in a MOOC accept a responsibility to share what is learned. On the contrary, the belief that learners are entitled to anonymity overshadows any suggestion that an important condition to connectivist learning is the act of making contributions. As I understood the theory, creating a public space to engage in conversations is for building ones PLN, and is not described as a way to payback the community.

    There is a difference in creating a blog space to reflect on ones learning under the pretense of a receiving critical feedback from an audience, and creating a blog to contribute unconditionally to the knowledge stew. Or is there a difference? Maybe its one and the same. In either case, maintaining a blog does require a bit bravery that commands respect. I don’t blog, but am thankful to the many participants who do so without the expectation that their readers contribute likewise.

    I think participants in a MOOC should accept responsibility of contributing to the learning of others by engaging in some form of expressive behavior. A interesting connectivist idea would be explaining where the human motive to share knowledge without any regard for personal gain, originates.

  6. Thank you JGA,
    Maybe it is the other way around. Teachers know that teaching a subject is the best way to learn it. So sharing is not (only) a contribution to the learning of others as well a strategy for better learning of the sharing person.
    I agree on your idea of engaging and sharing in some way. And it might perhaps be bigger than a MOOC. It is the old classical idea of discussion as the vehicle of culture and dignity of human kind. (We are after all shaped by the conversation in which we participate.)
    regards Jaap

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