Saturday, October 10, 2009

CCK09: Wiki syllabi, PLE and Connectivism

George Magoulas and Sherry Chen defined learner control as "an alternative procedure for accommodating instruction to the learners' individual differences. Learners are allowed to take varying levels of initiative and direct their own learning experience. Learner control can be considered as the degree to which individuals control the path, pace, and/or content, approach of instruction. (2006, p. 358)"

Greater learner control appears to be one of the boon of Personal Learning Environments. While I was studying sequencing and learner control in course pages/syllabi I have noticed that CCK08/CCK09 is unique in that it used a wiki for its syllabus. Technologically wikis afford learner control as we can see from Wikipedia. The use of a wiki syllabus by CCK08/CCK09 appears to be an invitation to learners to participate in planning the path, pace and content of the course. But looking at the syllabus it will be seen that it does not display the collaborative pattern of a Wikipedia page. It appears to me to be the most stable node of the CCK08/CCK09 course network.

Its content and sequencing had been scaffolded in the topic/unit level. Only the content in the topic/unit grow within the syllabus. The timing/pacing is also predetermined and the course does not divert from it. The weekly timing is also propagated in the Moodle forums. E.g. some participants may be dying to hear about how connectivism can be used in teaching, but they have to wait for a few more weeks. In this sense CCK08/CCK09 is not so different from other courses that are guided by different learning theories. Sequence, content, and timing are predetermined by the instructor.

Assuming that the wiki syllabus is open to the participants, why do we not see a lot of learner contributions in it? Would novices (who are the majority of students) even dare to touch the wiki? Would K-12 and under students also avoid editing a syllabus even if it is an open wiki?

The other question is that: what if the syllabus was even more unstable, like an etherpad page? How would it affect the course itself? Would participants end in an edit war of the syllabus without anything being discussed at all? If a lot of people take part in making the rules of the course in terms of the syllabus, when would it achieved enough quiescence so as to start the course. Or will there be endless branching, aborting, and restarting of topics?

Finally, how much learner control in a course does connectivism allow? Does it allow for changes in the syllabus? Up to what and when?

It would really be very interesting to study the effects of an emergent curriculum that is subject to full learner control; on learner performance.


Magoulas, G.D., & Chen, S.Y. (2006). Advances in web-based education: Personalized learning environments. Hershey: Information Science.

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