Sunday, 18 November 2012

5 thoughts from some MOOC'ers #edcmooc

I watched this video on MOOC’s this evening, kindly tweeted by Ary Aranguiz @trendingteacher
The 3 partiicpants are Martin Weller, Dave Cormier and George Siemens, all experienced practitioners in running MOOC’s. They talk about the history of MOOC’s, the nature of the learning and pedagogy in them, and a little of the MOOC's future within academic life. I jotted down some key points, plus my reflections relating to our EDC MOOC (photo credit: Leo Reynolds)

The early MOOC’s (2007) took advantage of the available technologies and the idea was just to “see what happens”.  Reduced role of content = increased role of connection. When you increase “Mass” you amplify these– but where is the tipping point?
So, is a MOOC all about connections, rather than content? What, as students, then will we actually learn? Or is it all about the disperse connections that are made, and how this fires our imaginations and learning?

Multiple ways of learning, varieties of expression, openness & transparency are important.
This could be a key to it, especially on a course on eLearning where the medium is the message. Maybe we will all learn how to express ourselves better and more confidently online? Or in different ways we hadn’t considered. Or maybe a long, rambling blog post will be much more successfully communicated in a 30 second film, or a photo.

To just arrange something means people think they are part of something that is happening. And to be able to even access a course, and be part of this, is a huge opportunity and motivation for some people.
I concur with that so far. My mind is prepped and ready to learn because I do feel part of something, and that is exciting. I want to take time to study and be part of the experience. “Learning is not about content, it's about experience”.

What does it mean to “participate” though? If you read the odd e-mail are you learning, as compared to someone doing all the assignments and blogging? Also, in a MOOC, what is the value of expertise? ie the ones who do the most online are the ones who are heard, but not necessarily the ones with the expertise.
Will the buzz of having so many people detract from the actual learning? Could we pick up, say, 10 key points from people’s blog posts each week and invite people to comment on these issues? To avoid things spiralling out of control, summarise, and give some markers to what we have learnt as a group. Is there a clever app or way of doing this online?

Burn out potential from a MOOC is much higher. You don’t have 10 e-mails you reply to you have 100. Would having 20 on a MOOC be better than 20,000? You need to rely on peer to peer interaction amongst participants. This is an example of how the pedagogy changes in a MOOC course.  But you always need to make sure this is being linked to the learning outcomes.
I am interested in how the course leaders will find the course. How will they assess what has been learnt, how successful the course has been, whether the learning outcomes have been achieved etc


  1. I am a little concerned about the social aspect of learning for the not so social amongst us. Peer interaction for me in the last course (26000 or thereabouts) was just too much. I couldn't cope so opted out of the forums. I didn't know how to have a conversation without making a connection and I didn't know how to make a connection in that vast collection of participants. I would have preferred some parts of the work to be done in smaller cells or groups, just so one could keep up. I also observe in the course I teach, problems experienced by the solitary learner when teaching is facilitated through interaction.This is in response to point 4 I think Chris. Anyhow, I am still in the learning process on this point.

  2. Thanks for your comment Angela. It's an interesting point, and thanks for sharing from your own experiences. I guess we shall just wait and see! I like the ability to share and learn, or help, peer to peer. I have a feeling we might end up naturally splitting into smaller groups anyway - people at different levels etc. There are physical meet ups possible as well through which might be good.

  3. Just read this blog again. Your thoughts tend to keep me focused on what might be happening with all our peer interactions. We now have a study group set up on our FB group which to me seems like a good thing. I am still all over the place.. learning new terms, reading blogs, roaming around cyberspace and I will now try Ifttt per Angela T's blog post. It's a good thing the creators of this course sent the early email. I've needed this time to get my feet wet before the big plunge. Willa