Friday, June 1, 2012

BonkOpen, final week, (semi) final thoughts

Well, the BonkOpen MOOC is almost over, I earned my badge (seen on the right) and in the process picked up some new knowledge, information, skills, and professional contacts! At the same time I was able to see Blackboard Learn in action as a host for a massive online course.

I think, that by and large, the MOOC was a good one, and the organizers and coordinators were responsive to the people who attended the MOOC and modified it, as the MOOC progressed, based on the feedback of the participants. There were a number of good things about the MOOC, but also a few mis-steps.  Here are some lessons I learned about using an LMS for a MOOC.

No need for introductions.
In a MOOC there are just way too many people to make introductions feasible.  The introduction isn't for the speaker to say who they are, but rather for the hearer to know who the speaker is.  This wasn't accomplished with the introductions in this MOOC.  The introductions were setup like a "normal" 15-20 person online course.  This didn't scale up.  I am actually wondering if "breakout" rooms are more appropriate, so that people with specific interests can go into specific forums to introduce themselves and socialize with people who have similar interests.  While this encourages homophily and may impede the serendipitous "aha" moment from starting introductions with different folks - it may be a good way to enter the MOOC pool on the shallow end.

Don't use an LMS's blogs
Blogs are nice, as is evidenced by my using of a blog right now! The only problem is that LMS blogs aren't real blogs.  A blog is, fundamentally, an outward facing collection of thoughts that is meant to be consumed by many people, and it's meant to live in perpetuity.  You can discontinue a blog, or delete it altogether, but you decide when that happens, NOT when the course is over.  An LMS blog is essentially a journal with an expiration date.  A better tool to use in an LMS is the discussion board - and it's better to just use a discussion board, and not dilute the discussion with discussion boards, LMS blogs, and outward blogs.

Badges are motivating
I know that it may sound silly to some people, but the badge is motivating - at least to some people.  I am wondering how to best introduce this into my own future MOOCs, and integrate it with the Mozilla Open Backback. I wonder how other MOOCs can benefit from this...  I know that MobiMOOC gave out certificates of completion for people who met certain criteria. I wonder if we can issue badges later.

LMS based MOOCs need a gardner and a reporter
This may not just be relevant to LMS based MOOCs, but I saw it here.  There were A TON of great resources shared in the discussion boards.  It would be worthwhile to garden the discussion forums and blogs and collect all of the resources into a wiki (annotated bibliography) or a mendeley share.  It's hard for all participants to read every single post - but what if you had helper elves in the MOOC to undertake this type of harvesting and present the resulting bibliography as an OER to the people who participated in the MOOC at the end of a MOOC?

I also saw that MOOCs do need a reporter.  Someone who is an organizer of the MOOC, who goes through each and every post and creates a bi-weekly radio show, or write up (depending on how active the MOOC is) with important information shared in the MOOC.  Weekly chat sessions with subject experts are nice, but MOOCs are also not only about the expert, but also about the info the participants share.

Suggest a thread
This was a nice idea!  The first week of BonkOpen was chaotic!  Too many people opening too many competing threads that duplicated each other's work.  The suggest a thread was a great idea!  There was only one problem.  By the time the suggested threads were opened, it was already mid week and momentum was lost.  Perhaps, during week 0, all readings and topics are available, and those who are interested can suggest a thread a week in advance. This way, by the time Week X opens, during weeks X-1 and X-2, suggested topics have been collected, and posted right at the onset.

Those things being said - it was an interesting experience, and I am looking forward to more interesting learning experiences from the folks at Bloomington and Blackboard.  Heck, maybe MY institution can host a MOOC on Coursesites!

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