This paper explores the perspectives of some of the participants on their learning experiences in the course, in relation to the characteristics of connectivism outlined by Downes, i.e. autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness/interactivity. The findings are based on an online survey which was emailed to all active participants and email interview data from self-selected interviewees.
The research found that autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness/interactivity are indeed characteristics of a MOOC, but that they present paradoxes which are difficult to resolve in an online course. The more autonomous, diverse and open the course, and the more connected the learners, the more the potential for their learning to be limited by the lack of structure, support and moderation normally associated with an online course, and the more they seek to engage in traditional groups as opposed to an open network. These responses constrain the possibility of having the positive experiences of autonomy, diversity, openness and connectedness/interactivity normally expected of an online network. The research suggests that the question of whether a large open online network can be fused with a course has yet to be resolved. Further research studies with larger samples are needed, as is an investigation into the ethical considerations which may need to be taken into account when testing new theory and practice on course participants.