I just started participating in my next MOOC. It is a MOOC about MOOCs hosted at Canvas.net. Follow along on Twitter with the #moocmooc hash tag. Those of you who follow this blog may recall some past posts inspired by the Current/Future of Higher Education MOOC last year. It was amazing! I have high hopes for this new one as well.
Here are some of my initial observations, hopes and thoughts.
It Uses A Newer Platform
It is hosted on Canvas.net, using one of the newer and rapidly growing Learning Management Systems on the market, one that has taken assessment and integration with the social web to a new level. The fact that they (Instructure, the company behind Canvas.net) established a huge contract with Cisco solidified them as a potential leader in the field.
It is Short
It only lasts a week. In terms of retention of knowledge, we know that length of a learning experience makes a huge difference. The longer the better. However, one can remedy this if one quickly and persistently applies the learning once the course is finished. In addition, I suspect and hope that social connections and conversations will persist on the social web after the course finishes. Perhaps the participants will take initiative to extend the learning through a LinkedIn group, a Google+ group, an ongoing Twitter chat, or something else.
A Distinct Instructional Design
There is a bit more structure to the design than I’ve seen with other cMOOCs, but less sage on the stage than I’ve seen with other xMOOcs. Here is a nice explanation of the differences.
This is a wonderfully diverse and global group. I suppose that was the case in other MOOCs, but for some reason it is more obvious to me in this one. In addition, there is a good number of people who have strong concerns and skepticism about MOOCs. That should make a for a rich and rewarding discourse, one that certainly aligns with my commitment to promoting persistent exploration of both the affordances and limitations of technologies and various aspects of digital culture.
It is Social and Hospitable
I know this is subjective, but simply based upon the initial introductions, there is already a qualitatively different social “feel” to this course. I already see great possibilities for building professional connections that will far outlast the course itself. Many past MOOC experiences were social, but I largely experienced them as cliquish. There were clear insiders and outsiders, and I experienced much disinterest when I tried to reach out others. This one just might be different. One of the participants (Kate Bowles) even noted that she is studing the idea “hospitable pedagogy”. That is brilliant and seems to relate to my ongoing work/thought about what it means to “be neighbor” and “be friend” in formal and informal online learning environments. When it comes down to it, there is something about this course that seems more hospitable.
I Have a Tangible Project / Goal
I am taking this course with the goal of refining ideas as I prepare a MOOC that I will be hosting in a few months. Since I am participating with the very clear and tangible goal/project in mind, I suspect that it will impact my level of engagement and approach to the learning.
Exciting Conversation About Increasing Persistence, Engagement, and Completion in MOOCs
Regardless of the planned content in the course (yes, I’m a constructivist and emerging connectivist), I already noticed a promising theme/topic that I hope to explore over the next week. That relates to strategies for increasing persistence, engagement and completion. Several people in the introductions already referenced the challenge of sticking with a MOOC for the entire time. I am especially interested in how we might be able to integrate gamification and game-based learning principles into the design of future MOOCs. I’m not sure what this would look like, but there are many possibilities. I just started reading The Gamification of Learning and Instruction by Karl Kapp, so we’ll see if I can blend those concepts with what I am learning in the MOOC.
Those are a few of my thoughts so far. I have a busy work schedule this week, but I hope to blog daily about my thoughts and experiences.