Saturday, March 23, 2013

Aboriginal Worldviews and Education

We are almost there!  The course Aboriginal Worldview and Education is almost over! It's one of the few xMOOCs that survived the great course purge of late 2012 (courses that I decided to drop before they started because of my time commitment issues in March). When I signed up for the course I thought that the course was about Australia and New Zealand since I had only heard of Aboriginals in that context before.  Even the course description didn't point to the fact that this was about Canadian Aboriginals.
Intended for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners, this course will explore indigenous ways of knowing and how they can benefit all students. Topics include historical, social, and political issues in Aboriginal education; terminology; cultural, spiritual and philosophical themes in Aboriginal worldviews; and how Aboriginal worldviews can inform professional programs and practices, including but not limited to the field of education.
The course and the instructor were quite interesting.  The lectures and the reading materials were engaging, and the interesting thing in this implementation of an xMOOC is that the discussion forum was organized, and each week the instructor had screen-side chats where he addressed the top 10 issues that had come up in the discussion forum during the week.  This is a  change from previous MOOCs where there wasn't really an instructor presence felt.  The other thing that was interesting was that participation in forums was worth 10% of the final grade; however it was a bit shallow in that it was counted numerically- i.e. how many posts have you posted (minimum 10) versus the quality of those posts.

The one assignment was pretty interesting, it was an Ethnographic exercise, and I've done ethnographic exercises before. I have to say that I still don't see a ton of worth in 250 word essays (other than encouraging economy of words, brevity and wordsmithing). The rubric was OK, and the two quizzes tested knowledge in the lectures. Oddly enough some lectures had not showed up before I took the quiz. I took the quiz, passed, and then went back and realized that there were lectures, which I watched.

To get a certificate in this course you needed 50% minimum.  This course does seem intro level, but when thinking about all the hopes and dreams people are putting on MOOCs, I have a hard time seeing how college credit can come from this wide variety of  grading requirements.
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