Wednesday, November 6, 2013

EDCMOOC - Perhaps 3rd time is the charm?

A while back, when #EDCMOOC was getting setup for the first time, a fellow colleague, co-author, and member of the MobiMOOC research team, recommended the E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC offered by the University of Edinburgh. I think the school was his alma matter and he had good words to say about the organizers. This is always a plus.

Well, first time around I was too busy - I think I was actually too involved with other MOOCs to have the mental bandwidth to participate in #edcmooc. The second time I don't even remember what was happening (was I in summer mode?), so let's scratch that one off.  The third time is upon us! What the heck, I thought to myself, might as well sign up.  The Game Based Learning MOOC  is almost over, and I think I have the bandwidth for #edcmooc now.

Since this is the first week, I went in and had a peek to see how they've set it up. I have to say that this MOOC is, at first glance, doing well on a number of counts; something to really given them applause for.  First, the introductory videos give you a sense of who the organizers and facilitators are, and they are quite  up front that they will be getting their hands dirty with the course.  I think that this counts a lot and it really shows that the course will aim to have a teaching presence be there. This was a nice Community of Inquiry checkmark for me.  There is no need to respond to every single MOOC participant's discussion thread - but having a visible presence and leading by example are quite big factors in MOOC design and implementation in my book.

Another really nice thing is that up-front they address the potential for being overwhelmed with MOOC materials.  There is an attempt to on-board participants into the MOOC and help participants get more comfortable with the idea of MOOCs, the massiveness of the materials created, and prepare learners to be successful in this MOOC.  I'd honestly like to see what the attrition rate for this MOOC is (anyone collecting data or doing participant surveys pre and post MOOC?)

As far as materials are concerned, it's great that the videos are not the end of the materials, but rather serve as introductions to the topics.  The organizers actually go so far as to state this in their introductions.  I think this is important because up to this point, in xMOOCs, the videos have been treated at the material to study, with no other texts to accompany or supplement the videos.  I've peeked at the resources for Week 1 and saved a few things to Pocket for reading, and downloaded a few PDFs to read if I have time later on. It's nice to see academic articles selected from databases  like JSTOR and peer reviewed journals as part of the readings for a MOOC.  I know that the rights negotiation issue is a big deal, and these things cost, but interacting with readings and negotiating meaning is quite an important part of learning.

Finally, it seems that there are no silly little multiple choice test assignments - yes!  There is only one assignment at the end, which is optional, and that consists of a digital artefact that you create based on your understanding of the readings and brainstorming around certain topics. I am glad to see that there are no tests for the sake of having a test. In terms of participation, I am not quite sure what I will do.  I am probably going to be on twitter, and continue on this blog (if the 3rd time is the charm).  I've looked into the forums of the course.  Even though I am still not convinced that the forums are the best form of communication in these things, I did see quite a few of discussions that seemed elevated to me.  In previous xMOOCs I really didn't get a sense that the discussions were worth my time.  It just seemed like junk all around.  As a matter of fact the last MOOC where I felt that discussions were worth my time was MobiMOOC (and that was a cMOOC). I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but other xMOOCs I've been that had discussions either didn't grab me (subject matter wise), or there was such a bad signal-to-noise ratio that I didn't want to spend my limited time looking for something good to read and respond to. It also deterred me from posting some original thoughts on the forum because the signal would get lost.  Luckily this doesn't seem to be an issue with #edcmooc. I am getting a vibe that I can pick three or four discussions at random and all of them will be worthwhile to read and participate in. More on this at the end, I will report on this at the end of the MOOC to see if this was indeed the case.

That said, it seems that blogs are acceptable as a way to connect people in the MOOC, but there doesn't seem to be a main mechanism, like gRSShopper, to collect and aggregate these distributed sources, to it will be interesting to see what people come up with.

For an xMOOC, this MOOC seems quite unlike any other xMOOC.  I think people should take note!

So, this is my question to fellow participants: what is drawing you in, and if this is your 2nd or 3rd attempt at #edcmooc, what didn't work for you before?
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