Community of Practice and OCL Institutional Innovations

Aleta May

Initial Blog Post for Week 4

EDET674 Dr. Lee Graham

Essential Question:  What lessons might we take from successful (and unsuccessful) OCL Institutional Innovations and from the concept of Community of Practice (CoP)?

I have personal and mostly positive experience with a Community of Practice group of people that was both face-to-face, and computer operated.  Since the time frame was around 2001 through 2003, I was not familiar with social connectivism if it existed at that time.  However, there was a newsletter posted online (and we received one in the mail).  There were poems to read, and I could offer to post something that went through a local representative.  There were sections of people according to how many years had passed since their particular loss had occurred.  The group still exists, and I am thinking the potential to make connections and safely meet online through a particular website link is such an improvement!  Driving to a city to make connections with a large group that fluctuates in participation and has diverse needs, well it suits the needs in some situations.  But they now have “virtual chapters” through an Online Support Community (live chats).  It is a reputable and organized support group.  If you are curious, here is the link:  As stated in the text on p. 142, people in this group has developed “a body of common knowledge, practice and approaches;” (Harasim, 2012) such as, making social connections and discussing that though there are many ways of grieving, there are others who have similar mechanisms.

The problem noted in Harasim, p. 138, with teaching online that stands out to me is that there is more effort to teach online than face-to-face.  Elsewhere in the reading, teachers were designing their own courses for college.  Although that sounds very exciting, it also sounds time consuming.  Though it is a given that teachers invest much more time than the hours they are paid to teach, this is still an area, that in my estimation, needs to be addressed.  Because when I am home in Oregon, time invested into my grandchildren is essential as well.  In other words, other areas of life are robbed when excess time is spent on developing courses.  One solution I particularly like is faculty training and support.  The learning teams as a key pedagogy of University of Phoenix Online (UPXO) courses are a prime example that solutions can be found and built in to a system.  The UPXO plan includes training teachers for four weeks, then sending them to teach with a mentor.  The UPXO actually invested in teachers who were highly trained in their field, and attracted more students this way.  Of course the simulated virtual business environments for a variety of career study opportunities were a draw to the university as well.  But respect for the teachers’ time can equate with a successful school of learning.

Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are places for informal learning; yet, they too, need pedagogical design.  The Interaction Equivalency Theorem (EQuiv) is a framework that helps course developers for open online environments analyze interaction designs.  Interaction management has three primary types under the category of student-centered learning:  “learner-content, learner-instructor and learner-learner” (Miyazoe, 2013).  Learner engagement and motivation is most effectively gained when there is more than one of these types of learning configurations.  According to Stephen Downes, one of the creators of MOOCs, an xMOOC  is “MOOC as eXtension of something else” (Downes, 2013).  These are extensions of a core MOOC offering, yet not necessarily a part of it.  I think this is a great way to personalize such a massive open online course.  Though xMOOCs are behavioristic in theory by having a teacher, packets of research articles, etc., sMOOCs offer social constructivist ways of learning.

K-12 courses have already began to be used as part of curriculum.  For example, in high school, a course was offered that was for advanced placement (AP) computer science called Amplify MOOC.  An example of a class called Exploring Engineering, allowed students to learn about concepts and processes of engineering.  What a great way to connect students to career learning opportunities (Ferdig, R., 2014)!  Real professionals to talk to!


Downes, S. (2013a). What the ‘x’ in ‘xMOOC’ stands for . Retrieved from

Ferdig, R. E. (2014).  What’s Next:  2014  Preparing for k-12 moocs

Harasim, L. (2012).  Learning theory and online technologies.  New York, NY:  Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Miyazoe, T. (2013).  Interaction equivalency in an oer, moocs and informal learning era.  Journal of Interactive Media in Education;


3 thoughts on “Community of Practice and OCL Institutional Innovations

  1. jcrocker2

    While it does take longer to develop an online course, I think that they can be designed in a way that they can be very efficient and easy to improve/update when improved technology comes along. What I mean is that while the initial investment is heavy, the workload would (ideally) be a lot lighter once you’ve taught the class a couple of times and get the kinks all worked out.
    I’m also surprised about the UPXO stuff I was reading. All this time, I’d kind of just assumed that it was another “degree mill” type of college (you pay the money, meet the requirements, and you get your degree). It sounds like a lot more than that, and I really like their idea of using a simulated world for some of their majors to get practical experience.

    1. aletakmay Post author


      Thank you for your thoughtful response!

      Since I have never developed an online course, it seems so big! Yes, I believe in initial investments of time when I see that all it will need for multiple uses is to update, improve based on who is taking the course or new ideas to make the course an even more effective learning environment. One reason I am sensitive to time investments, is that the field of education I have entered has been an area of continual change and much misunderstanding. These changes and misunderstandings (e.g., What is the role of special education? The reading specialist and response to intervention–the illusive “best model.”) have created for me teaching that changes dramatically every year according to the newest educational philosophy and how to meet response to intervention (RTI) regulations while using best practice instruction.

    2. monk1ak

      Jon makes a good point. When I first designed my courses, it took forever!! But as time has gone on, I don’t have to invest near as much time. I always review, consider trends (new recipes and food ideas) and look at assessment to see what can be changed in order to make adjustments accordingly. Online, I’m sure, is much the same. I would think the big learning curve would come from actually understanding the format (Blackboard) that you would be teaching in more so than the lesson design and subject matter. Just think… after this class a lot of that mystique will be addressed and we will have a much better understanding of the whole online course design!!


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