The LMS-less MOOC

I am excited to take part in my fifth MOOC. As with all the past MOOCs, I anticipate learning through collaboration, sharing, networking, and experimentation. I hope to meet and learn from diverse people around the world. I have no doubt that I will grow, learn, and be inspired by the creativity and innovation of others.  I also expect to learn more about the design of MOOCs.  More than any of these, however, I am delighted that ETMOOC is my first LMS-less open course experience.  A wide variety of platforms, communities, and technologies will blend to offer a fully open classroom without walls.

Four or five years ago, I was a attending a distance learning and teaching conference and I was interviewed about the future of distance learning.  I responded by sharing my very first experience designing online courses.  It was around 1995 and I was working in a high school in Illinois. I was studying for my first master’s degree at the time, and much of my research in that program related to the promise of online learning in secondary education.  So, I decided to start a pilot online program that would offer a series of 5-7 high school electives, courses that would not otherwise be offered at the high school.  It was great fun working with various content experts.  We built a world literature course using a visual interface that simulated the students going on a trip around the world.  We designed a history course that explored modern history, but blended it with a study the leadership through the successes and failures of ten distinct and diverse historical characters. We even built a high school course that explored the relationships between science and religion.

One thing that was distinct about these early online course designs is that we did not have a learning management system.  Instead, we leveraged seven or eight free or inexpensive platforms to weave a digital learning environment.  We used traditional web pages, a discussion board, email, newsgroups, a real-time chat tool, and a variety of other tools of that time.  Now, almost twenty years later, having designed almost two hundred online courses in a variety of learning management systems, I still contend that this early LMS-less online course design experience included some of my best instructional design work.  So, when someone asked me to predict something about the future of distance learning, I shared a hope more than a prediction.  My hope was a future where we once again returned to technology mashups for online courses, removing the walls of the online course and embracing a more expansive and open vision for distance learning.  To the best of my knowledge, ETMOOC does just that, and I am delighted to experience it with a massive group of co-learners around the world.

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Posted in e-learning, etmooc, MOOC

About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, professor of education, Vice Provost of Curriculum and Academic Innovation, podcast host, and blogger. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), Adventures in Self-Directed Learning, and Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology. He is passionate about futures in education; educational innovation; and social entrepreneurship.