This week, Dave asks “How do we keep people encouraged about learning if there is no finite, achievable goal?” This is a fascinating question, which Dave has already answered. 🙂 The last step of Dave’s plan for success in a MOOC is “focus”, the point at which you decide what your goal is for the course. There’s always a goal, it’s just a matter of where that goal comes from.
This doesn’t just happen in formal learning environments. When most people learn to drive they have the goal of being able to get a driving license. A smaller group have the more ambitious goal of getting a CDL so they can be a chauffeur or a trucker. Very few have the goal to make it to NASCAR or Formula 1. The learner always decides what their goal is. They may or may not make that learning goal explicit. Only when an external credential is sought does the adult learner cede some of that control. In order to earn a driving licence, one must learn the traffic laws/highway code/etc. well enough to pass the written test.
This brings me back to a point I made in week 1. Learning is very open, free, and flexible. Most of the issues of power, dependence, and the like arise when learning is joined at the hip to credential seeking. Ergo most of these issues are less about learning per se and more about learning’s role in the credential seeking process. Alas this is probably inevitable. I imagine the number of people willing to pay to learn would be much smaller if there were not a promise of economic benefit.