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Questionnaire Draft 5

Page history last edited by x28de 14 years, 11 months ago


For the sake of my sanity - I am starting a new page :-) Thanks so much Roy for your ideas and John and Matthias for the discussion. I have carved myself a bit of space today, to give it all the attention it deserves. Roy's thinking on looking for a connectivism methodology to research connectivism is very interesting (see below).


Basic  Framework or Ontology (in the IS sense) for researching use of blogs/ moodle

I am looking for a connectivist methodology to research connectivism. 


If ... one of the core tenets of connectivism (I paraphrase) is that learning happens when people connect to other actors, nodes, networks, in a dynamic and complex way, which creates a set of dynamic, linked networks (between minds, objects, nodes, etc.)


Then ... we need to find out how and why people move around the networks, and open/ close/ resonate with/ create discordance with other minds, objects, nodes, and parts of the network (like blogs and moodle discussions).


I think these ideas would add interest, depth and credibility to the research. And I think it would also reveal people's preferences for blogs and forums as well as for other technologies. Didn't Mike Bogle expressed an interest in this in one of his blog posts?

1. Are we agreed that this is the approach we are going to take?


I agree on the approach, highly fruitful to our research.  Let's wait for Roy to give us his further thoughts, and Matthias your views.  By John




Some ideas on the phases we might use to structure the research .  This structure is clear. It would give us both quantitative and qualitative data and the possibility of following up the qualitative with interviews. I do wonder though whether everyone thought about the CCK08 course before they 'jumped in'. I think Matthias has mentioned this. I didn't think about it. I only found out about it the day before it started. Since it was free I thought I had nothing to lose by finding out what it was all about! I didn't have any prior knowledge or experience of connectivism. So we would need to phrase questions to enable people like me to respond.


I have been looking for different ways to connect and research since 2000.  I have tried using Web 2.0 - Google search and reader, wikis, Blogs, digital stories, and learning through workshops, forums, courses and various PLE before the CCK08 course.  However, I found the CCK08 by accident, and thought it might be a good idea to see how an open on-line course works.  I fully opened my mind to Connectivism and accepted it as a New Learning Theory.  Though I think there are many refinements and modifications due to its inherent (genetic) characteristics.  These include the lack of empirical studies and incomplete understanding of network dynamics (like the Adaptive dynamic networks at all three levels, and the principles of Chaos and Complexity Theories -how and why they are applicable).

So, I resonate with Jenny: we would need to phrase questions in simpler terms (under connectivism vocabulary if possible) to ensure people to respond.  Also, people who disagree with the principles would either disregard the survey or provide their reasons for those discordance.  That's welcome.  And how we could learn!  Agree?


1. Pre-MOOC: your default set of affordances ...

Which affordances were important parts of your repertoire before the course?

[This might translate into a hypothetical qustion like ...Would you agree with the statement: "I can't do without blogging every day"?] Yes - I don't think we'd be able to use a word like affordances. I can imagine there would be groups of people who engaged with CCK08 who wouldn't have come across the term.    

Sure.  I need a framework for my own thinking, which is quite separate from my interaction with research participants.  In a research project we have just finished, on affordances for learning, using interactive and collaborative reflection, the words “affordances” and even “reflection” were not even mentioned.  If its useful, we could sketch out fairly well theorised, and collectively agreed framework for the research, which could be a useful part of the research report, and could inform the research process, but which would certainly not be used in the questionnaire unless absolutely unavoidable. Besides, “affordances” means very different things to different people.  It could even be better to use the language of digital ecologies in the research report (see e.g. the IEEE conference in Istanbul this summer on digital ecologies). 



How and where did you practice them? [practice as in ‘professional practice’] This is a very open question. What sort of responses would you be expecting?

Which if any of these affordances were specific to particular platforms, forums, practices, networks, spaces (human, ICT, meta-networks: blogs, MOOCs, forums, etc)? A big question - which would need breaking down

And how and why? We would have to think carefully about how to phrase this. How and Why are the best question starters for digging deep, but they are also the most threatening! Agreed. All these three questions need to be translated into a questionnaire item or two, as examples.  Is the intention to keep it to quantitative or aggregate-able responses, or can we add one or two more open ended questions?  We don’t have to ‘process’ them, we can read them selectively for future research if you want to keep this more manageable.


Jenny: I agree  by John 

2. On arrival

Which affordances did you expect to be able to practice on the MOOC?

Which if any specific platforms, forums, practices, networks, spaces (human, informatics, meta-networks) did you expect would enable you to practice/ extend these affordances, or explore and master new affordances?

And how and why?


3. In the MOOC

What platforms, forums, practices, networks did you use at the start, for which affordances?

Were these useful, successful, disastrous, frustrating, challenging?  

Did you change strategy?

What did you change to?

And how and why?


4. Post-MOOC

What affordances are now important in your repertoire?

What’s changed – additions, deletions, parked, created, mastered affordances?

And how and why did these changes happen? It would be very interesting to find out more about this. I expect George and Stephen would also be very interested in this. 

Indeed, its what most interests me too, from many points of view, such as online workshop design – i.e. what can we learn from this MOOC about designing and facilitating a connectivist workshop, designing a digital ecology for learning, or setting up a digital ecology for learning?  That’s, in rough terms, what I think its ‘about’, but maybe that’s just my own bias. 



I would think that both within digital ecologies and within connectivism the interesting question is: how did your engagement with this particular network/ digital ecology change you and your affordances? 



I think this has the makings of a really interesting questionnaire and although it is different from how we originally conceived what we were doing, I think what we have already done will put us in a stronger position when we analyse the data.


The multiple answers may be structured in statements or multiple choices (but there may be multiple answers too!). Replace affordances by simpler words like  use of information and Communication Technologies including  Web 2.0  (are we refering to the access or the tools themselves?) and use skills development instead of repertoire.

 A challenging one for us to design  May be we could only use these in the interview with open questions.



Would you like to say a bit more about how you would track 'inside' and 'outside' traffic, Roy? 



If we can do a social network analysis, with software (i.e. digitally?) as opposed to manually, that would be an interesting start, the problem is, this would only be able to track people leaving and re-entering.  I would like to ask a series of questions about things like:


Were there points in the course where you left the course entirely? 

For how long, and where in the course?

If so, was this because of one or more of the following:


a. I wanted or needed to do something else: e.g

·         External pressures

·         Bored

·         Other (please specify in less than 5 words)



b. I was fed up (affordance space closed down), e.g

·         Too much noise (extraneous issues)

·         Clumsy gambits (Stephen)

·         Current topic irrelevant to you

·         You wanted some quiet time

·         You wanted to blog/ reflect in private

·         Other (please specify in less than 5 words)



[Note: if its not too complicated, we could add a strongly agree- disagree scale to each of these questions, to give us a weighting measure for each one on a 7 (or 5?) point scale with only the two extremes named, e.g.

The power gambit was intolerable:       Strongly agree ………………..  Strongly disagree 

            Too much noise:                                  Infuriating …………………Mild irritant.  

You can also play around with other formats, (two negative poles) but we should keep it simple]



c. I wanted to continue what I was doing on the course, but in another setting or context? E.g.

·         Taking off on another track in a private email conversation with another participant or two

·         Taking of on similar issues, but in an ‘outside’ space/ forum/ wiki etc.

·         Other (please specify in less than 5 words)



If and when you returned to the course, did you find the course open to what you wanted to continue doing/ the issues you wanted to explore or address, or not?

[completely ............................................only partially]  



If the format of the research instrument is statement plus strongly dis/agree etc, these could all be reformulated to comply with the format, but I suspect that some of the ‘movement among the nodes and making and breaking connections’, which are the core of the connectivist process, and the emergent affordances, would be lost.  So I suppose its up to me to come up with more specific ‘nested’ question clusters, if that would fit in with, or live comfortably alongside, the format you have in mind.






In the real world of getting this research done, it might be possible to use a framework as broad as this, but nevertheless to emphasise that we are particularly interested in  'shifts between blogs and forums'. I am still very interested in shifts between blogs and forums, but perhaps it would be difficult to come up with any conclusive findings. Maybe what you have suggested will give us something more concrete in terms of findings and also some insights into the differences between blog and forum preferences. Thanks Roy, Matthias and John. I have enjoyed 'catching up'!


The ambitious plan would be to elicit information on affordances, and where these are practiced / expanded/ where they fail/ - and in particular whether the process moves in and out of blogs and forums, and the general forum as opposed to the weekly forums.  I will try to come up with a simplified format, as a variant on the questionnaire design that has already been developed.  

But I am aware that it will not be possible in this research to capture the ‘ecological narratives’ that would tell me how a ‘connectivist’ practice (CCK08) actually works / doesn’t work (how and why people connect/disconnect/reconnect/ or reconfigure their participation and their nodes). 

So we might be able to capture some of the basic processes, with a modest focus on what happens in forums, what happens in different spaces like blogs and forums, and how and why people shift between them in the overall MOOC/ digital ecology.


I will try to put translate all of this into a draft for a workable questionnaire, using the current one as a starting point. 



Yes, I think I have shared this with you Jenny when we skye, as EVERYONE has a view and perspective, and we may not be able to generalise easily because of the Principles of Chaos and Complexity Theories.  We could only explore (a) the pattern, (b) the ontology (learning to be) (how peoples' attitudes, knowledge, emotions (EQ AND Social Intelligence in particular), beliefs and learning have changed, (c) network dynamics (at a social and global level) and (d) technology affordance (the interactions between self, community and the technologies).  


These relate to how people have learnt throughout the process and responses to - (1) is it really learner centred? (2) Focusing on the learning process (via PLE and elearning programs)? (3) Focusing on the cooperation and collaboration amongst participants and other communities at different levels?  (4) Using different ICT (Web 2.0) and other traditional resources, and artifacts to aggregate "knowledge" and facilitate learning based on convergent and divergent views analysis and synthesis (consolidation) - (blogs, forum, delicious, facebook.....etc.)? (5) Developing personal connections? (6) Developing personal concepts and groups concepts (Wisdom of the Crowd) through all of the (1) to (5)?  And based on our Concept Map developed?  by John 11/3/09



Next steps?


As we now have two dimensions, we probably also need two next steps in parallel: one for the new longitudinal study approach, and one for continuing the lateral cut approach steps. For the swappers, I suspect that the phenomenon could easily be verified by looking at the Moodle posting dates of the blog droppers (who I mentioned on the other page).


For continuing the lateral comparison approach, I am not sure if we can interprete Roy's non-commenting to our current question wordings as affirmation?  Matthias, my apologies.  I need to spend some time looking at the current set of questions.  I have had no more than a glance at them, and I need to do so in some detail.  I didnt think that I could usefully explain the kinds of changes I would like to suggest to the questions without first getting clarity in my own mind about  what I would like the questions to answer.  So forgive me for going about it by such a long route, I'll get back to the task of editing the questions.  I have started to work out some possible questions in the response to some of the issues above.  If so, it would still be great to have an alternative wording for some pro-blogger stances that could serve as the pro moodling statement for the opposite stance: for instance, how can we positively describe the same situation that "Pontification" (#106) says negatively? This would require to understand what people think who are not too much put off by the occasional tendency of a too big "big picture", and to understand the flip side of this coin that they value? Then we could pair the questions and plan how we would interprete the respective agreement or disagreement, if there is a significant one.






I wanted to check if the 82 participants who dropped blogging were continuing in the moodle forums, and I uploaded the result of the first quarter here:  Nobody did, all who stopped blogging also stopped moodling, in most cases almost at the same time.  So I did not continue, and probably I am not the best person to do this evaluation because I did suspect a result like this, and also there is a certain amount of arbitrariness in determining the exact dates and delimitation of cck08 postings.


One of my assumptions is that nobody who took part in the MOOC, and certainly nobody who was active for most of the time didnt also have a virtual life/presence outside of the MOOC.  So the interesting questions are in a connectivist domain of which the MOOC is just one, transient, part, even if it is the focus of this research.


So I think it is a very ambitious goal to go beyond the static investigation of preferences and observe the dynamic behavior. I for one, would be content without this additional longitudinal survey component.  It is more ambitious, and might be less realistic as a result, but the proof will be in the questions, so let me get busy on drafting some questions, and we'll see how that goes.  


There is also another reason why I find it more difficult to measure this dynamics: Roy said: "making and breaking connections’, which are the core of the connectivist process". I think it is NOT the core of the connectivist process to switch connections on and off in a binary all/nothing fashion. Rather, the gradual strengthening of connections (hence the neuronal metaphor, “Not all connections are of equal strength in this metaphor”, Wikipedia) is an important new aspect of the theory. And this is what is hard to measure in discrete numbers of cases. Even more so when considering how open the course was and that the boundaries to cross (leaving or reentering) are hard to identify. 


Agreed.  It is the gradual strengthening of pathways, or the thickening of the links (choose your methaphor, but be careful not to put it all into neurology), rather than just the on/off decisions that make for 'connectivism'  (which is precisely why I find it so hard to conceptualise this as connectivism rather than neural-type networks or ecologies!).           


How are we going to measure this gradual strengthening of connections?  Would a metrics comparing connections at the start (first 1- 3 weeks), middle (from 4th  - 9th weeks) and end of the course (10th to 12th weeks) be useful?  We could simply ask a few quesions such as:

141. In a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 - not yet connected (low strength) to 5 - highly connected (high strength)), would you please describe the strength of connections you have made

(a) at the start of the course (within the first 3 weeks) ...... 1 2 3 4 5 

(b) middle of the course (from 4th to 9th  weeks) .........1 2 3 4 5 

(c) at the end of the course (within 10th to 12th weeks) ......1 2 3 4 5     

142.   How has those changes in strength of connections affected your way of learning?  1 - No change ----------5- Big changes

By John 13/03/09 revised based on Matthias reminder


  • I think the difference between blog users and forum users is definitely a qualitative question and absolutely not ideal for quantitative measuring. Therefore we discussed Likert style agreement 1-5. Matthias 2009-03-13
  • I agree to 1-5 Likert style throughout the questions. See revised version above   John 2009-03-13
  • I numbered them for inclusion in Part 4: questionnaire.


But of course I would not object to a few questions trying to explore if there was a significant moving.






Comments (2)

suifaijohnmak said

at 9:54 am on Mar 11, 2009

Roy and Matthias, I am finding it difficult to distinguish your views based on text colours only, unless you state your name at the end. Are there any other easy way to do so, though I am not colour blind?

x28de said

at 10:17 am on Mar 11, 2009

Thanks for the hint; I switched to a different brown.

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