The massive open online courses (MOOC) as ecologies of learning: a case study.
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EERA. European Educational Research Association
MOOCecologies of learningexpanded educationcase studyqualitative researchsoft skills
Montes-Rodriguez, R. y Martínez-Rodriguez, J.B. (2018). The massive open online courses (MOOC) as ecologies of learning: a case study. ECER18 Proceedings. Retrieved from: https://eera-ecer.de/ecer-programmes/conference/23/contribution/44662/
The current and complex proliferation of educational research on MOOCs (massive, open, online courses) does not correspond to the in-depth exploration of the formative and sociological processes that take place in them. There are many studies focused on certain characteristics of MOOCs (success, abandonment rates, motivations, satisfaction...) (Veletsianos and Shepherdson, 2016) but, nevertheless, there are no studies that put emphasis on the participants themselves, on their heterogeneity, on how they interact with the platforms and among themselves, in how knowledge is exchanged and in how the digital culture allows new forms of teaching and learning. In this research, located within the R&D Spanish national project "Ecologies of learning in multiple contexts: analysis of expanded education projects and conformation of citizenship" of the ICUFOP research group, one of these MOOC courses is analyzed in depth, specifically one of training of trainers in the field of health education, from the assumptions of an ecological perspective (Jackson, 2016, Haythornthwaite, 2015) and defining it as a virtual community of (in)visible learning practices (Cobo and Moravec, 2011). The objective of this research is to know (from a micro perspective, not macro) how training is produced, how knowledge circulates and through what channels, who mediates in the process and for what purpose. In the same way, it explores how access to knowledge occurs and how they are put into practice, what knowledge is experienced, produced or disseminated and how the participants of the course handle the knowledge acquired. The methodology selected to answer these questions is the case study (Stake, 2005), collecting the data from its original sources and applying in the analysis of the discourses the categories of mediation theory in the field of communication (Martín Barbero, 1987, Orozco, 1997, Scolari, 2008). The results of the research show: a) the positive and negative effects of the interaction between the pedagogical, digital and institutional cultures in conflict; b) a rich typology in the forms of appropriation of knowledge and the use of different soft skills; and c) how the forms of implication or participation of the agents involved unequally affect the foregoing, which conditions the unique characteristics of what we know as expanded education (Zemos98, 2012). This MOOC is also analysed as a training experience representative of new ways of understanding the production and spreadability of knowledge (Jenkins, 2008), as well as the interaction of formal, informal and non-formal learning types. For that, it is focused on the interests of citizenship construction processes related to the exchange of knowledge, the identification of mediation practices and the opening and expansion of knowledge. All this, with the aim of detecting and identifying those learnings called “invisible” (Cobo and Moravec, 2011), tacit knowledges and knowledge in relation, trying also to identify the corresponding soft skills (Buckingham, 2013) used by the participants during the process. And more specifically it explores: a) The structural conditions in which the agents involved in the training interact, as well as the set of rules/principles applied during the development of the course; b) The forms, modes or codes of relationship and exchange between agents, that is, what we understand as forms of social mediation that occur through social communication; c) The theories of the formation of the pedagogical and digital culture that are giving new meanings to the practical teaching knowledge due to its ubiquitous, tacit and informal nature in the collaborative environment of the MOOC and d) The modalities of participation, communication and forms of involvement and commitment that develops in the process of collective production of knowledge in different contexts, and that generate citizen elements of the "commons" (Lafuente, Alonso and Rodríguez, 2013).