20/04/2009 (rw) and there is an update on this, on: http://www.roys-discourse-typologies.blogspot.com/

The course on Connectivism last Fall (CCK08) was as far as I know the first course to be run at this level of openness (I participated in a similar massive scale event, or Global JAM in 2007, so scale is not what is new for me here).

This course, because it has thousands of potential participants, more than a hundred active participants, and 22 credit participants, creates something totally new, including a) the possibility that if it is big and multi-connected enough, it will be self-correcting (a variant on the wisdom of crowds argument), and b
) that the content of the 'course' will be created by the connectivity (new pipes) and the interaction (new content) of what happens as the course progresses. Or to put it another way, the curriculum will be created by the class (members) as well as by the class (as connectivist process, or emerging network/s).

This autopoetic notion of curriculum is interesting, and it adds a possible third layer to the notion of openness a) of access, b) of behaviour [and self-correction?], and c) of curriculum.

However, the curriculum is not a fully open curriculum, although it is open in a more restricted sense: i.e. if you consider the curriculum as a set of resources and tasks, and in this case the resources expand exponentially (because the course is open to the world) then the resources also become far more diverse and contentious (the tasks remain the same). This is good and bad news: good news because a diversity of sources and source material adds richness and depth, bad news because it so much more for the course participant to deal with, and although some of the posts link to published research, many of them dont - its the nature of forums and blogs, so their level of validity or veracity is in question (makes you think).

In connectivist terms, in a traditional curriculum, the student can connect to the tutors and their texts, and might also find a few new ones. In an online curriculum, the set of texts (the conceptual ecology, in my terms) may expand. In a massive-&-open online curriculum, the set of texts is almost bound to expand exponentially: it becomes a dynamic, global conceptual ecology.

The task of academic writing is to provide an answer to the question: 'how do you see topic xyz?' or even better, 'how do you think about topic xyz?' (there's a kaleidoscope / neural kaleidoscope metaphor in there somewhere), and the answer is: a) to provide an evaluation of other people's heuristics &/or ontologies (undergraduate) or b) to revise and add on to other people's heuristics &/or ontologies (Masters?), or c) to start adding substantially new aspects to other people's heuristics &/or ontologies (PhD +). This means that the set of concepts and conceptual relations that are provided in the course resources for any particular course is the 'raw material' for an ontology (or heuristic), which is in a sense the basis of the curriculum. In an open online (or networked) course, because the resources are potentially limitless, the open course tends to become a course that is based on an 'open' (-ish) curriculum.

In the case of CCK08, the course could have been an OC (online course) but then someone added an 'O' for 'Open' [OOC] and then added an 'M' for 'massive' [MOOC] - all of which changes the conceptual ecology of the course, and makes if far more rich/ diverse/ contentious/ challenging/ scary ... [edit to taste].