iPad … eyepad

I received a letter through good ol’ fashioned snail-mail recently. It was from a dear friend who wanted to cheer me up. In the envelope, I found a personal hand written note, a newspaper article, and this comic strip.

There are several reasons why I am sharing this online:


Reason #1 – role model

I am proud of my friend, who used to be hesitant about technology, and who is still somewhat cautious whenever embarking on new commitments, but who is, at the same time, extremely zealous towards every aspect of life. Despite being in the pre-internet, pre-computer generation, this friend of mine has come a long way in a very short time – actively learning new things every day, and more importantly, successfully customizing that learning experience at an individualized pace, to suite personalized goals. I think my friend is a good role model for those of us in the Digital Immigrant generation.


We can learn so much from a simple gesture – a gift, a snail-mail letter, a message, an acknowledgement of knowledge, an embracing of reality, a sense of humor, a realization of differences, an acceptance of the inevitable...


Reason #2 – carpe diem

Note: for the benefit of my followers who are not first language English or Latin speakers… Carpe diem is an aphorism usually translated “seize the day”, taken from a poem written in the Odes in 23 BC by the Latin poet Horace, Book 1, number 11, and it is a well known phrase, popularized by Robin Williams, thanks to the movie Dead Poet’s Society .

This post is my carpe diem.

A year ago, I officially became closer to 50 than 40. To celebrate my birthday last year, I immersed 100% on G+ for the first time, and dove deep into the open online PLN learning culture, I went through an intense vertical learning curve, I weathered an extended lengthy novelty effect, and I eventually finally settled at a high energy sustainable plateau. Prior to that, I had been “in hiding” and “off the grid” for 7 years.

This year, I celebrated my birthday with (yet another) one of my (many) self-experiments. NOTE: I often self-impose purposeful interventions to trigger new learning experiences, while documenting my learning process.

My birthday “present” this year, was a 1-week “break”, away from my online PLN in G+. My objective this time was to see if I would suffer cold-turkey if I stopped being online on G+. In the past one year, I had first become – “addicted”, then eventually “naturalized” to become a comfortable, respectable G+ “citizen”. So, after having “lived” for 1-year, “inside” of the G+ environment, I was curious how going cold-turkey for a week would impact me…

Surprisingly, I discovered that I did not “suffer”. I realize (now) that I am an “online-onland-amphibian” equally comfortable being in the “iPad-world”, as I am in the “eyepad-world”…


Reason #3 – C’est la vie

Note: again, for the benefit of my non-French speaking readers… C’est la vie” is a French phrase which means – “That’s life”.

One day, my upstairs bathroom pipes needed unplugging, and so, I called a plumber. The plumber came, walked through my kitchen, and as he entered my dining/living room space, he stopped short in his tracks. With a gaping mouth, he pivoted 360° and gasped, “Geez! Lady, are you always this organized?” FYI, my dining area has wall-to-wall shelves, filled with stacked books, folders, and files, all neatly labeled, color coordinated, and organized by size, topic, and relevance. I smiled at the plumber, and just for laughs, showed him my fridge. In it were stacks of containers – also organized and labeled. Yes, I’m a bit OCD🙂

Last week, another close friend told me that I have an uncanny ability to “unravel people like threads”. The comment was a response to my innate (and involuntary) SOP habit of spontaneously perceiving, analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing the thoughts of people whom I come in contact with.

Last night I had an epiphany. I realized that my deconstructivist SOP, coupled with my constructivist OCD, can work hand-in-hand… just like my amphibianistic online-onland existence. In other words, if I consciously embrace the iPad-eyepad philosophy, I would lead a much more productive and happy existence… and… the end result would not be a dichotomy of two extremes… instead, it would be a rich cornucopia of multiplicity.


Reason #4 – 阴阳

Note: …and this time, for the benefit of my non-Chinese speaking readers… 阴阳 YinYang is the ancient philosophy of opposites creating a balanced, dynamic, yet harmonious “whole”. Plus, an additional Gestalt note: …as Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”


Why am I writing this post? What is the purpose? How is all this relevant to the theme of this blog?


I decided today (on a random, nondescript day) that it is time to dynamically change my attitude towards my blog. I began this blog space about a year ago, and promised myself that I would keep it abreast and updated.

I have failed miserably.

Despite the strong start, and even after having had this blog be listed as one of the “99 Best Resources on Open Courseware and MOOCs“, I have not been diligent in posting regularly. Part of the reason for my shortcoming has been my (erroneous) self preconceived notion that the theme – i12LOL! : I want to Learn On Line – had to specifically only be relevant to “traditional” notions of learning online.

I am now going to (literally) turn over my (YinYang) wheel, and do a major revamp of my future blog posts. From now on, I will endeavor to post anything that I learnonline or onland… I will not be afraid to be eclectic or (seemingly) confused.

So, to my followers and anyone who happen to read my future blogs, I hope you will enjoy the cornucopia of hybrid learning experiences that I plan to share, in whatever topic, whatever format, and whatever frequency that I so happen to experience🙂

I’m a twittering twit of a twitter


Six months ago, I decided I was going to learn this thing called G+ and Connectivist Learning. Then, it turns out, I found out that I was already a Connectivist, but didn’t realize that what people call “Connectivism” today, is what I called “Osmosis Learning“, way back when I wrote my thesis. Same stuff, different title. So anyway, six months ago, with the help of people like +Laura Gibbs  and +George Station , and many others, I dived deep and binge learned everything there was to learn about G+.


I did a 48-hour non-stop no-sleep immersion, and an intensive 2 month no-barriers no-limits full throttle.

Blog post that described my G+ binge learning experience:
Today, I think I’m pretty comfortable in G+ and can coach others how to maximize its benefits for applied online Connected Learning.
But this thing called TWITTER….
I feel like such a Neanderthal!!!
…a dunce!
Someone… please help me… I’m a “Cognitive Refugee” (Hussin & Kim, 2013) who needs someone to give me ZPD coaching (Vygotsky, 1978)… Pray tell… WHY is my brain NOT comprehending the LOGIC behind this thing?


FYI, my thesis was a human interface study on SMS (short messaging system) -ie text messages. So I’m pretty good at the syntax shortening. So that is NOT my Cognitive Handicap with Twitter. Instead, what I don’t get is the non-linear non-sequential random dialog stream….

How do I respond to all the pings that flood my email inbox? How do I re-route those to somewhere else so that they do NOT flood my email inbox? How do I access what I want to access, and not have to scrounge around? What do I need to do to be efficient?
NOTE: this blog is posted in G+

Silent Writing Collective

Start 10:35pm
Target end 11:00pm
Today I participated in another one of Doug Belshaw’s “community events”.
The first time I participated in any of Doug’s “community events” was earlier this year. For several months, Doug opened the lines of communication every week, inviting anyone around the world, to contribute ideas and feedback, on the Web Literacies Standards Initiative by Mozilla. Before that. I had heard of “crowdsourcing” and “Community as Curriculum” efforts through my research work on Connectivism (Cormier, 2005), but it wasn’t till I became acquainted with Doug Belshaw that I actually had the chance to experience a live, global, “crowdsourcing” event myself.
Note: It was a roundabout fluke that I got introduced to Doug Belshaw, of the Mozilla Foundation. Since that story is long and deserving of a separate blog by itself, I will save that story for another day.
Back to the story at hand.
I enjoyed the interaction during the Web Literacies Standards community calls, and I was/am quite honored to have been able to contribute to that cause. So, two days ago, when I read Doug’s open invitation to participate in the “Inaugural meeting of The Silent Writing Collective“, I simply could not resist.
I just had to try it.
I am a horrible procrastinator at writing. I admit. I have a great fear for white, open, empty, pages. During my college years, I found all sorts of crazy ways to force myself to write. I recall starting note books on page 8 or 10 or 20, rather than on the front page, simply because I would freeze if I saw the first empty page. I even resorted to pasting photocopies of older written pieces into my note book, so that when I started to write, it would not be on a white page.
But in the later part of the 80’s, when computers became a mainstay, I was back to square one. Facing the blank page. Horrors! My mind would always be a blank — as blank as the screen staring at me. I sometimes wonder how I ever got through college, or how I ever managed to write 3 thesis books. Shudder!
Back to the story at hand.
(one can begin to see why writing is a problem for me… I digress… a lot!)
Anyway, back to the story at hand.
So, today, at 2pm CDT (8pm London time), I logged in to the URL that Doug had posted online. http://piratepad.net/silentwritingcollective …I was 5 minutes early. At first it looked like nobody was there. Then, I realized I needed to register for my own ether-pad.
Darn! Do I know how to do that? Why ether-pad? Why couldn’t Doug just use Google Docs? Ok. Whatever. I can figure this out, right?
Then, I see Doug post a question: “Roz?” he asked.
OOops! He must have noticed me logging in. I had better reply. Now where is that darned chat box? Why is the ether-pad interface so unintuitive? Boy! I thought to myself, I’ve become so “Googlized” that I’m at a lost when I am on any other type of interface that does not follow G+ standards!
“Hi DOug… I’m scrambling a bit here… not so sure I’m doing this right…”, I replied.
“Awesome, looking good so far!” he quipped back.
For a split second, I paused. I felt a strange déjà vu. The perfunctory but friendly remark made me reminisce a scene from my first grade school. I remember my classmate patiently encouraging me, “Looking good, come on! Let’s go!” Interesting, I told myself. The Silent Writing Collective is a virtual meeting. An “old fashioned” ether-pad  live chat meeting. No VOIP even. Yet, it reminded me of a bygone era, where kids would cheer on other kids who were slow and struggling.
Later, as the The Silent Writing Collective hour progressed, I had an even more vivid déjà vu feeling. Five minutes before times up, Doug had posted in the chat box, “When we reach the top of the hour, don’t forget to click on ‘Saved revisions’ at the top right and save a revision”.
My heart skipped a beat and I immediately had scary flashbacks to my high school days, where I had to do exam after exam after exam. All timed. All proctored. All horrible experiences.
Having to write essays within a short finite duration of time is not easy. I remember hating it with a vengeance, but having to force myself into compliance. Back in high school, I actually mastered the skill of blocking out everything around me. I was capable of instantly shutting myself down to the outside world, zooming in onto an exam paper, and producing a quality output within the 1-hour exam duration.
But today, as I blinked once, twice, and again, at Doug’s 5-minute warning reminder, I suddenly froze. Then, I scrolled back up to the top of my screen, clicked SAVE, and simply gave up. My piece was far from finished. I had totally lost the skill of timed writing! What a shame!
Tonight, as I recap the day’s events, and as I type this blog, I targeted to finish typing this blog within 30 minutes. It is now already over an hour from my start time. I definitely need to take a refresher course! So, I guess I’ll be signing in to Doug’s 2nd Silent Writing Collective next Sunday…. and hopefully, next week, I’ll be a bit more together!
NOTE: below is the copy-pasted text from my Inaugural Silent Writing Collective
End 11:47pm
25 August 2013
Go to http://piratepad.net to get your (randomised) pad – paste it below!
Sign in:

August 25, 2013

13:55 Doug: Right, we’re off! I’m writing about the NSA revelations tonight as I’ve been meaning to for *ages*
13:57 unnamed: I’m taking a stab at writing about whether completing a degree is worth it, could be a bit of a ramble though.
13:57 Doug: Cool, welcome Dan!
13:57 Doug: Roz?
13:58 Roz: Hi DOug… I’m scrambling a bit here… not so sure I’m doing this right… but here goes…
13:58 Doug: Awesome, looking good so far!
14:00 Doug: Welcome Mat and ‘unnamed’ x2!
14:54 Doug: I really enjoyed that – saw some interesting stuff coming through on Roz and Dan’s pads too!
14:55 Dan: Really good idea Doug, really enjoyed it.
14:56 Doug: Oh, cool. I’ll do another one next week then🙂
14:56 Dan: Yep, look forward to it and probably be a little more prepared : )
14:56 Roz: Doug, this brought me back 30 years in time… it reminded me of A Levels… and the timed essays that we have to do…
14:57 Roz: I forgot what it felt like to be timed… LOL!!!
14:58 Doug:😀
14:58 Doug: Right, signing off. I thought that was great and enjoyed reading your stuff.🙂
16:41 scottlo: Popped in after everyone finished. It was a real treat to read each entry and follow the various links. I hope I can join in next time around.

August 25, 2013

14:38 Doug: Cool stuff, Roz🙂
14:41 Roz: Thanks… my mind is a jumble, though… LOL!
14:54 Doug:😉
14:55 Doug: When we reach the top of the hour, don’t forget to click on ‘Saved revisions’ at the top right and save a revision.
14:55 Roz: ok
14:59 Roz: Doug, what are we supposed to do after that?
15:00 Doug: Whatever you like! Blog it, tweet it, keep it to yourself. It’s all about the process of writing.🙂
Coaching Metacognition
Metacognition (Flavell, 1976)
I have been “Coaching Metacognition” since the 1990’s. It started out as a self-initiated coping mechanism. In today’s world, we hear so much about ADD, ADHD, and all sorts of LD’s. I swear, if I were born 20 years later, I would probably have a string of acronyms behind my name in my school records. But since I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be born in the 60’s, the entire concept of giving a “label” to a person’s individual “learning styles”, was unthikable.
Back to the story of “Coaching Metacognition”.
Note: you can already see the tell tale signs of ADD above, yes?
“Coaching” is a form of “teaching”. The most common application for this method is in sports or other high intensity Psychomotor Domain endeavors. Unlike classroom teaching, coaching requires major buy-in from both sides – the learner and the coach, as the relationship between the two sides is often intense, high-risk, and totally engaged. The yield from this type of instructional model, is also intense, high-risk and totally engaging. To put it in a nutshell, “No pain, No Gain”.
“Metacognition” is a relatively esoteric term. Those in the field of education and psychology are probably familiar with its syntax, but to the average Joe on the street, it might as well be a foreign term. It was to me, when I first heard it. Ironically, I first heard the word in the early 2000’s, about 10 years after I had begun indulging in “coaching it”.
“Meta” literally means “above” or “beyond”. “Cognition”, in layman terms, means “thinking”, and “metacognition” means “thinking about thinking”. Flavell coined the word “metacognition”, back in the 70’s, during a time when Learning Psychology was moving away from Behaviorism and early Cognitivism, to Constructivism. Again, all these terms could be gobbledy-gook to the man on the street. I am not interested in writing an academic discourse today (although I would, perhaps, on another day). What I plan to do today, is to tell the story of how I introduced “Coaching Metacognition” to the-man-on-the-street….
About a month ago, I first wrote about this in a blog https://i12lol.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/connectivist-learning-searching-yourself/ . I wrote briefly about some of the childhood conditioning experiences that led to my “Coaching Metacognition” hobby/habit.
[note: sorry, I was distracted there for a bit… my son walked in and I left for a few minutes to settle something, now I’m back but I totally lost my train of thought… darn… going to try to recap and start again]
[trying to start from a different angle instead]
I began coaching Mr.X about two weeks ago. Met him online. Totally serendipitous. Can’t remember if he met me, or vice versa. Either way, he is stuck on this “Coaching Metacognition” bit like a leech onto my ankle, after wading in a stream. He’s there as I turn on my computer, he’s there as I check my mail before I put the lights out to sleep. He’s addicted. He keeps waiting for more input. From me. His coach.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not some weirdo stalker online. Mr.X is one of many “students” whom I “coach” online. No, this is not a paid job. No, this isn’t even an official class. The closest label I can think of is perhaps a PLN (Personal Learning Network), but even then, it is hardly a “network”. It is more of a as-and-when-spontaneous-relationship.
Back to Mr.X.
He asks questions online, and he waits for responses. When I respond, he goes into rapid-fire research mode, looking for evidence, looking for background info, looking for examples of whatever he can find that is related to whatever input I give him. Then, I respond back again, sometimes, with feedback directly related to the evidence he posts, sometimes a mere personal opinion. Regardless of what I type back, he then (again) goes off into a frenzy of follow up research, and once again, spits back walls of text, filled with rich data and tons of information that I never knew. Sometimes, I wonder, who is coaching who.
The point of my writing about this is to showcase a “culture” that is new to me. Mr.X is an anomaly to what I had been familiar with in the past.
As I started out writing above, I had been “coaching metacognition” for over 20 years now. I started doing it as a form of mentoring to the undergrads I used to teach, then, later, I adapted my style to suit adult learners, when I began doing professional development training in the corporate world. All the while, in the beginning, the “coaching” medium was face-to-face. Then, as times changed, I experimented using distance-learning methods, with technology tools. Eventually, I developed fully distance-methods, such as SMS-based coaching and online groups. My graduate research was focused on this.
My current dilemma (if I want to consider it a dilemma), is the fact that I have recently begun experimenting with new techniques. These indugences were not conscious. They just happened. First, the medium I am currently using is new to me. I now coach using G+.
[note: I pause here, because I can’t even discern whether to use G+ as a noun, proper-noun, verb, or adjective… the act of G+-ing is all of the above… like the word “Google”… it ihas now evolved to be a verb… similarly, the term G+ is now evolving, thanks to the strange new cultures that are emerging from the daily activities that occur on the said platform].
[I’m seriously losing my train of thought here… going to pause and get some coffee]
[adding a bit more while waiting for my coffee to percolate]
I realize one BIG difference between the previous technology modes I used for coaching metacognition and the one I have just begun to use (ie. G+). The G+ platform is organic and ever changing. It is never static, although one could argue that if you know how to change your settings, you can control what you see and what you don’t. However, right now, as G+ is still relative new to the masses, it would be safe to say that most people haven’t the slightest clue how to filter or search from thread to thread, or worse, across threads. I wrote about this problem in two blogs:https://i12lol.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/ripples/ and a follow up blog https://i12lol.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/more-on-ripples/
[ok. I’m about to give up LOL! my brain just went dead when Doug typed that reminder… LOL! …. this is awesome… reminds me of high school and those darned timed essay exams… A levels… remember those? … I hated them!… ]

Harvesting data from personal experiences

I suddenly realized this morning that many of my early “blog posts”, from way back when I first started engaging in online Connectivist Learning, are potentially “wasted resources” if I do not now go back, revisit them, harvest them, and curate them into some semblance of documentation. The concept of Metacognitive Learning (Flavell, 1976) is well established, but the Learning Protocols, -ie- the how-to-do-it-STePs for Metacognitive Learning, are NOT commonly known. In other words, there aren’t many DIY textbooks out there entitled – “How to embark in self Metacognitive Learning”.

So, I have decided to start a personal effort to revisit the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that I took last year, where I first embarked in Connectivist Learning. I want to “harvest” the MOOC platform by copy-pasting some of the key aha-moment blogs that I had posted in that platform, and re-post them here, in my public blog. I will then document my Metacognitive reflections of what I now (today) have learned since those original blogs. These documentations will form a data repository for qualitative research analysis, and will (hopefully) spark potential article publications by myself and/or other collaborators/readers. I welcome anyone who reads this blog to utilize the data that I am posting here, for the purposes of learning and publishing about learning.

FYI, my virgin MOOC was a course by Stanford University titled “Designing a New Learning Environment” (DNLE). The platform on which that MOOC was hosted, is NovoED, previously known as VentureLab.

The following is the first blog that I am “harvesting” from DNLE.

Copy-pasted from my DNLE Personal Journal from 8 months ago



Potential research stemming from this MOOC (DNLE)

This post was originally posted as a response to a discussion in another thread. I am copy-pasting it here, as it highlights the potential for (additional) research to be carried out, based on this DNLE MOOC “experiment”.

The topic of online terminology, connotations, culture, context, and syntax…. this is an area of study of personal interest to me. I had been researching the impact of these variables on human task performance for awhile now. In my studies, I also looked at the differences between what impacts a native monolingual English speaker, versus what impacts a native bilingual speaker (someone who truly was raised with two languages from birth), versus what impacts a person who speaks English as a second language.

Context has a different impact when it is listed as part of a task instruction, or issued by the instructor, or by persons of official authority in a context, or when posted by a peer.

The use of vocabulary, its impact on readers, and its application in purposeful subliminal messaging, has been studied and published extensively in the field of advertising. But it has not yet been researched or published much in the field of instructional design. Also, what little that has been studied, has always been in the context of the western world. Now, with global online MOOCS, I personally think this area of study needs to be addressed in the context of various international cultures.

Why, just look at THIS MOOC alone… if you sift through the many journals, forums and projects (and I don’t mean just the popular active threads… take a look at the many projects by bilingual and non-English speaking students), you can see an array of language sentence structures, and the evident impact (positive or negative) that certain posts convey.

Just through accidental discovery, I have encountered at least a dozen or so posts that had been “misread” or “differently-interpreted” due to differences in language syntax. Imagine if someone actually purposefully looked at that phenomenon as a bonafide research question…

I think someone should use this MOOC to do a study on that.

More on Ripples

BACKGROUND NOTE: This blog is (1) a continuation of an earlier blog I wrote on Ripples, (2) a follow up from being triggered by an article I read on a G+ post by Mike Allton, and (3) an aha-moment I had as I revisited two G+ posts — (3a) the first post that I had originally posted a few weeks ago, and (3b) a second post that David Amerland had posted as a follow up.

The article by Mike Allton talked about the benefits we gain from the Google’s Ripples tool from the perspective of social networking in the business world. I can see the benefit for business, but I am in the business of education, so while I’m thrilled at the existence of the Ripples tool, I am frustrated that it’s design is not (yet) developed to benefit the objective of learning

Ripples measures re-shares. From the lens of learning this type of quantitative data is not very useful, even though it does qualitatively present a “sociogram“, -ie. a visual representation of the people-networking, emanating from a particular G+ post. The problem is that the existing Ripples-sociogram (merely) represents a very shallow level of “thinking”. Ripples (in its present form),  is a value system based on statistical dichotomyre-share or not re-share.

In order to be useful for learning, what Ripples should do instead, is to measure comments. By tracking and quantifying the reactions and follow-up contributions from people in relation to an original post, then, the sociogram that is generated would represent a deeper level of cognitive response to the original post.

Let’s look at a few hypothetical examples…

Example 1:

Let’s say original post #X has 3 comments, original post #Y has 30 comments, and original post #Z has 300 comments. This would imply that original post #Y triggered a discussion that is more successful in engaging dialog than original post #X, and that original post #Z is a catalyst for hyper-engagement.

Example 2:

If both original posts #C and #D have 20 comments each, but if the comments from original post #C are contributed by 20 people, while comments from original post #D are contributed by only 2 people, this would suggest that the comments to original post #C are reaction-comments (as the discussion has only reached a single-layer of responses), while the comments to original post #D are probably  reflection-comments (as the discussion contains multi-iterations of dialog). In other words, the depth of dialog and/or level of engagement in the latter is deeper than the former.

Example 3:

If both original posts #E and #F have 50 comments each, but if the comments from original post #E occur within a span of 1 hour, while comments from original post #F are spread out over a period of 5 months, this would suggest that  original post #F triggered a longer duration discussion, -ie. a more sustainable life-span. This would suggest that the author of original post #F and/or the responders to original post #F, were successful dialog facilitators who managed to sustain ongoing engagement.

Now, let’s look at two real examples:

ripples1Ripples diagram for Post #A

Post #A:

by Roz Hussin (me) originally shared publicly – Jul 14, 2013

1 re-share, 12 +’s, 84 comments, 33 pages, 9614 words

ripples2Ripples diagram for Post #B

Post #B:

by David Amerland originally shared publicly – Jul 14, 2013

10 re-share, 49 +’s, 72 comments, 22 pages, 5056 words

RankRoz RankDavid

Analysis and research questions:

Measurement / Engagement Criteria

Post #A:

by Roz Hussin

Post #B:

by David Amerland

Observation / Analysis

Hypothesis / Research Questions

G+ posts



Author of Post #B is ≈ 20 times more influential online than Author of Post #A

Does the quantum of re-shares (valuing a post to be important / useful for others) and endorsements (valuing a post to be interesting / containing useful content) depend on the author’s online influence status?




Post #B had 10 times more re-shares than Post #A




Post #B had 4 times more re-shares than Post #A




Number of comments in both posts are comparable

What criteria influence the quantum of discussion engagement? Duration? Intensity? Sustainability? Depth? Detail of discussion? Number of reference URL links quoted in the discussion? Number of people “pulled” into the discussion?




Total length / duration of discussion engagement of Post #A is 30% longer than Post #B




Total depth / volume of content of Post #A is double that of Post #B

Questions raised:

If the author’s “influence” is a factor in determining discussion engagement, then WHY does Post#B only have HALF of the depth/volume of discussion than Post#A? (despite the fact that Author of Post#B is 20 times more influential that Author of Post#A)

If the number of re-shares and number of +’s are statistical numbers that are indicative of the post’s “value”, then WHY does Post#B have a THIRD less content than Post#A? (despite the fact that Author of Post#B is 10 times more re-shares and 4 times more endorsements than that Author of Post#A)

Judging from the simple analysis above, it looks like there are many more unanswered questions than clarifications regarding the issue of discussion engagement and the criteria that determines the levels of such engagement.

This reminds me of my elementary and middle school days… where the “popular kids” are popular because of publicity reasons, and not because of their actual contributions in school… Isn’t this sad? That the adult online world is no different than our childhood popularity nightmares? (David Amerland… No offense OK? I love your blog posts, and I sincerely appreciate the accolades you gave me in your post… but in the name of research, I hope you forgive me for using your post as an example).

IF online discussion is to be seen as the key vehicle for engaging online learners in online courses, wouldn’t the protocols of engagement in online discussions be an important literacy? How would online learners gain these competencies? Where do instructors and learners learn about these issues? Who is researching and discovering these findings? Who is teaching people how to maximize this knowledge? Anyone?


As technology continues to develop, I hope that the keepers de jure of the online domain -ie. coders, programmers, policy makers, business investors – pay a little more attention to the needs of online learners, and not just of online consumers and suppliers. After all, isn’t online learning a business too?

MOOC Metacognition

Today I embarked on a new MOOC.

No big deal. I’ve registered for over 20 MOOC’s to date. But this one is different. Why? Because it is of the same species as my first MOOC. Same university. Same platform. Same subject. Same format. Same crowd.

Well, there are some differences… New instructor. New assignments. New cohort. But the parallelism is stark, and the number of people from my first MOOC who have collectively, or individually, decided to register for this new MOOC, is quite spellbinding. The new MOOC launched today, but the buzz in the G+ discussion threads have been going strong for a few days now.

In the past 6-7 months, there has been a steady staple of discussions in G+ which revolve around the observation, analysis, evaluation and reimagination of MOOCs. I use the term “re-imagine”, rather than “re-design”, as most of the discussion participants involved do not have access to actual deployment of MOOCs, although almost all are established educators in their various disciplines, many of whom are online instructors and believers of “OOCs”, albeit the “non-massive” kind.

I too have been part of this circle of steady MOOCies, active in my newly established online presence, diligently contributing to G+ discussions, as well as to my own blog site. My learning curve the past 6 months, IMHO, has been steeper than what I had experienced during my virgin MOOC the year before, and the enlightenment that I perceived to have gained during that virgin MOOC, was in comparison, by far, more illuminating than the education that I obtained during my Ivy League college years.

In simple English, the progression of “learning” that I have experienced, through my recent informal online escapades, is surprisingly superior to any of my past formal experiences, and that this “progression” seems to continue in an upward trajectory in terms of perceptive satisfaction on a daily basis.

I just re-read the paragraph above. That was not “simple English”. So, let me try one more time… In simple English, I am learning more now, through chatting online with people whom I’ve never met, than I ever have, in my whole life.

Strange? Yes? …well, maybe not.

If the concept called “strange” is defined as a manifestation of “uniqueness”, then, my observations are not “strange”. I have read so many testimonials in G+ regarding the “amazing learning” that takes place daily through these informal peer-to-peer dialogs, that it is hard to deny the ubiquity of this claim.

What I find even more interesting, is the fact that I am not alone in my observations. It turns out that there are many others who also share positive opinions about their online enlightenment. And we all signed up for this same new MOOC, because we all are curious at what it might offer us in comparison to the earlier MOOC…

I am currently working on the first assignment in this new MOOC. Participants are required to fill out a Qualtrics survey form (part 1), and then, post a refection through the MOOC assignment tool (part 2). I am using this blog as my part 2 assignment. I am also concluding this blog by copy pasting what I had submitted in part 1. The assignment asked us to reflect on our current state of mind as we begin our journey in this MOOC. I decided to be wholly-sincerely-honest. Now, after having clicked SUBMIT, I wonder what the MOOC instructor and instructional designers will say when they read my answers?

This is what I submitted:

Question: What aspects of this online course are you currently looking forward to or excited about?


  • (1) I am interested in seeing how this course compares to the previous Stanford MOOC that I took through VLab.
  • (2) I am curious to see the improvements that Vlab / NovoEd has developed on their platform since last year.
  • (3) I am eager to see how the “individual assignments + team advising” method works better/worse than the “team projects” method (which was deployed during the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (4) I am excited to experiment in the effectiveness of open G+ discussions “outside” of the MOOC platform (which I did not do during the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (5) I am looking forward to working with some of my previous classmates from the former MOOC that I took in VLab (as many of us decided to sign up together for the same reasons as (1)-(4) above.
  • (6) I am also happy to meet new people from all over the world who have similar interests (to add to the cohort of online collaborators whom I developed from the last MOOC that I took in VLab).

Question: What reservations or concerns do you have about taking this online course?


  • (1) I am skeptical that the peer grading calibration tool will work effectively for the assignments that require peer reviews (as that tool malfunctioned in the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (2) I am hoping that the VLab rubrics design has improved since last year and is structured sufficiently to be able to scaffold novice learners who are doing peer reviews for the first time (this is important to ensure a “fair” playing field when expecting peer-to-peer evaluations from both novice and expert level “students” in the same cohort).
  • (3) I am hopeful that the instructors for this MOOC will hold live video conferencing Q&A sessions during the course of this MOOC to gain formative feedback from participants for the purposes of ongoing progressive design development of this MOOC (as some other MOOCs by other universities have done, such as UK Open University which held G+ Hangout On Air sessions every 2-3 weeks, plus a post mortem open feedback session at the end of the course, in which student representatives were invited to speak)

Question: Can you suggest any success criteria that would help us determine how useful this online course has been for you and/or to others?


  • In addition to just collecting quantitative data on student “completion rates”, the instructors, instructional designers, and platform providers for this course should invite the “experienced” participants in this course to engage in a two-way open dialog on the design of this course, with the instructors, instructional designers, and platform providers for this course.
  • FYI, there are a large number of us who are from DNLE, who are ourselves academic and professional educators, instructional designers, and online course providers, who have collectively and/or individually decided  to invest our time in taking this Design Thinking MOOC, in order to do a “grassroots-crowdsourcing” comparative research study on MOOC course design, for the purposes of studying, experiencing, and documenting (ie. “action-research on MOOC Metacognition“). Incidentally, these “research” efforts are not sanctioned by the MOOC providers. These are independent efforts. To quote one of the active participants, “Anyone with intelligence, inclination and the skills to follow their curiosity and investigate their interests is a researcher”….

NOTE: This blog sparked subsequent dialog in G+. Link to post.

Connectivist Learning – Searching Yourself

I have “experimented on myself” all my life, and I have been consciously documenting my actions, for over 20 years now…

Now, before this blog goes south on wild misinterpretations, let me explain. It has always been my personal passion to conduct self-immersion action-research. My first encounter in immersion-self-experimentation was probably at the age of 4, or somewhere around that. I remember clearly, my father – an engineer, professor, researcher, experimenter, and joker – had asked me to read aloud from a children’s nursery book.

New Picture (3)

While reading, he asked me to stand straight, and periodically adjust the focus of my eyes to the edge of the book and beyond, so that I could simultaneously focus on him, as he sat at the opposite side of the table. My father would then pick up a flash card that was sitting on the table, and show it to me, as I was reading the children’s nursery book.

These were math flash cards, the kind which had a formula on one side in red, and the answer on the other side in blue. The objective of this “game” was to have me read the poems in the children’s nursery book, while simultaneously answering math questions. My father was experimenting on me – seeing if he could train me to multitask with both my artistic right brain (poetry and language), as well as my scientific left brain (math and logic).

Now remember, I was only about 4 years old at the time. At that age, I didn’t think about what was asked of me. I just did whatever my father told me to do. So, in response, I would (in one single breath), verbalize something in the lines of the following:

“I saw a ship a sailing…. 2+2=4… a sailing on the sea… 1+3= is also 4…. And, oh! it was all laden… 5+3=8… With pretty things for thee!”

To me, all this was just a “game”.

To my father, the “game” was an experiment.

Later as I grew up, through the years, my father continued to “train” me in a variety of other cognitive methods. At the time, I had no clue about “cognition” or “training” or “learning” or anything. It was just all in a days work – a first born child’s active relationship with an intellectual parent.The realization that these activities were in fact “experiments” on cognition development, only came much, much later in life, when I had become a parent myself, and after having had returned to grad school to pursue a change in career. I had practiced as a professional architect for 15 years, while dabbling part time as an adjunct faculty for 5 years, when I finally took the plunge, to shift focus and change religions from industry practice, to full time academia. My choice of major was Instructional Design and Technology. From there, I learned all about cognition, pedagogy, action-research, and a whole lot more – much of which I had already “experienced” live, hands-on, through my father’s “experiments”.

FYI, no, the career change was not due to any failure in the field of architecture. In fact, I was doing quite well in the industry at the time. The fact of the matter was, I was, and still am, innately and incessantly, entrenched in “immersion-self-experiments” a.k.a. “immersion action research”.

I do what I do, not because I have to, but because I have to…

My father has since passed away, but the lessons learned have stayed crystal clear in my memory. The most sharp and apparent realization from all these memories, is that all these “learning activities” were executed as “experiments”. I am now into my second half of my 40’s and my own first born child is entering young adulthood. I too, through the years, have “trained” my two children via “experiments”, and I also continued to “teach-myself” using my father’s methods. I know first hand, from the hard earned cognitive callouses in my long term memory schemata, that self-immersion is indeed a powerful and effective method for learning.

I have written about, and through, this method in various posts in G+ and here in this blog website. Topics range from “Discovery Learning”, to “Binge Learning”, to “Mobile Learning”, “Connectivist Learning”, “Metacognitive Learning”, and a variety of other eclectic “learning” topics. My writing style is purposely informal, as I write primarily to document my own observations. However, my intent is also to communicate to others like me – people who are not involved in “formal” higher education research circles, but who, in their own personal lives, practice the  fundamental raw essence of “action-research”, which is to experience, observe, analyze, synthesize and then reiterate with intervention for the purposes of improvement.

And thus, my blog today is to share a technology tool that I recently just learned – the Google search-command that allows you to search for your own comments in any G+ post, including posts that are not your own. I use this method to search, revisit, reflect on, and analyze my own learning online (metacognition).

Link to post by Ronnie Bincer: How to Easily Find Your Google+ Comments.

Link to my G+ post re-sharing Ronnie Bincer’s original post.

Search-command to find my G+ presence in other people’s posts: “roz hussin” -inurl:117219403239374562288

Link to relevant article on how Google Search focuses on aggregating information about people rather than just keywords. This resonates with my research hypothesis, that the value of online learning is not in the information content per se, but in the Connectivist Culture that exists in this environment.