The Set as an ecological concept

April 20, 2015

Today Terry Anderson http://terrya.edublogs.org
had a lecture of open education in Tallinn University.

He mentioned a genial and catchy The Set concept they have started using in MOOCs that i became quite facinated of.

“The Learning in Sets” chapter in the book Teaching Crowds ( 2014) by Terry Anderson and Jon Dron.

A set is defined by intentional engagement around a topic.

Much set-based learning occurs “just in time,” concerned with finding out something of value to the learner now, rather than a continuing path.

The set will represent a range of perspectives and views of the subject, which together will offer diverse opportunities to connect existing knowledge to new discoveries.

The Set may be a set of students who have similar preferences to courses they take in MOOCs, also i think in general on what they choose as resources. So in this way it resembles user profiles in recommender systems.

Terry mentioned they now try putting contacts between those in the Set.

The main reason i like the Set concept is it is pre-cultural, assuming that self-organised people will not necessarily discover each other, and supporting this intentionally is a meta-design principle that helps learning ecosystems to develop kind of culturally similar “species” who can then dedicate intentional efforts in communicating to learn from each other.

It is a question, when actually one becomes aware of certain Sets and identifying his belonging to this or that Set. And what will by the person’s awareness of other Sets.

Exposing ( discovery) of different sets and opposing different Sets for some problem-solving or other purposes can probably be done only with meta-design using analytics’ based feedback.

Going back home with tram from Terry’s lecture i was thinking of the Set as kind of distributed cognitive phenomenon – manifesting its existence through its externally created behavioural niche. Terry and Jon write:

Another way that sets can aid serendipitous discovery is when we spot trends or patterns in behaviour.

The set has proven to be surprisingly effective for connecting those in need with those who wish to give.

We have recently discussed of those niches containing the patterns (as culturally defined solutions to problems) developed by certain “cultures” or in other words by Sets, as well as how individual pattern formation in epistemic distributed cognition happens embedded to the cultural pattern formation.

set distributed cognition

I was also thinking if the formation of Sets was promoted in open educational courses, what way it would change the currently too much individualistic MOOCs. And what kind of learning analytics and learner focused feedback could be given for Set formation as another meta-design element that promotes learning ecosystem management. Terry and Jon write:

Self-referentially, the Set itself can provide resources and clues about the reliability of information found within it, particularly if it incorporates collective tools that emphasize reputation, provide ratings, or show other visualizations that give hints about the value of a contribution or individual.


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