Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Sustainability of MOOCs

Just in case you missed it the other day, here is the link for the stream (which was live, but now should be available to stream) for the CIEE and USDLA sponsored event on Sustainability in MOOCs (in which I was a panelist ;-)  ). The event was quite interesting and this was my first panel discussion - where I met quite a few interesting people!

In any case, if you see the stream you will see two keynote presentations before the panel, and both were interesting. In the first presentation what I found interesting were the philosophical foundations of MOOCs which include many elements of the Open movement such as Creative Commons, Open Source and Open Courseware; as well as the ethos of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). While the connection was probably there somewhere in my mind, I really hadn't thought about it that much in depth.

The one thing that I corrected (tactfully, or not-tactfully, you be the judge :-)  ) is the assertion that the Stanford AI course was the first MOOC. This may have been the first xMOOC, but it's not the first MOOC.  The other thing that I disagree with, but I really didn't say much about at the time, is the idea that Open Coureware is  "MOOC 1.0".  I think this is wrong, and I think it misunderstands what a course is (the "C" in MOOC).  If OCW were a course (which it isn't, and MIT OCW says it isn't a course), then there would be more things there that just content.  If a curated content collection is a course, then every public library would have a ton of courses in it - but they don't :-)  Courses are more than just content, and courses are more than a professor lecturing. I think OCW is an important contribution to the field of education, but a course it is not :)

Your thoughts on the discussion?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

One more MOOC down - xMOOC experince grows

One more MOOC is done! A coursera xMOOC to be more precise called Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society with Karl Ulrich from UPenn.

For this course I took the "auditor" approach to participating in the course. I did listen or view (or listen and view) all the lectures, and I did poke around the assignments, but never bothered to submit any of them.  I did enjoy Karl Ulrich's presentations, so for me the course was more like a series of related TED videos, and not specifically a course. The assignments, I must admit, were intriguing, but the combination of the level of my interest in the subject matter, coupled with the peer review and (lack of) accreditation accreditation made it not worth my while to go for that certificate of completion.

Now, if I had more spare time, I may have cared a bit more to create some artefact based on this course, but given that I don't have a ton of time, and that the assignments are peer reviewed (and that there seems to be no real mentorship from a subject expert), the certificate of completion doesn't really act as a motivator.  Certificates are nice, but as the fellow participant says bellow "I don't need no stinkin' certificate" ;-)  So, if you don't need the certificate, and you feel that you are getting what you need from viewing the lectures, why participate in this whole production and peer review exercise? The fact that the seemed interesting wasn't reason enough for me to motivate me to invest time in them :-)

I must say, that in addition to the professor, the non-graded end-of-course contest of creating a certificate of completion for the course was pretty interesting.  I wasn't super enthusiastic about some of the design, but this tote bag is pretty cool! It's nice to see people thinking outside the box :-)

Monday, December 3, 2012

LMS, SIS, and empowering the learner

Last week I was reminded of the Canvas Network. Despite the fact that I have a friend and colleague that works for the company there are so many things happening at work that made me forget. In any case, I am glad I stumbled upon the Canvas Network again because it gave me an opportunity to see how another EdTech company, one whose bread-and-butter is the LMS, is approaching MOOCs. Last week I was writing about the innovations that I think are worthwhile exploring further in the Canvas Network, namely letting students know what they are in for if they choose a specific course to take.

This got me thinking about campuses today, and admittedly this goes beyond the LMS. Most students have only a small blurb, that is often outdated, to go by when choosing courses for their next semester. Even if you know what a course is about, you don't necessarily know much about the format of the course, the assessment types, whether there are synchronous, asynchronous, or blended components to the course. What if the LMS, the SIS (student information system), departments and faculty worked together to get course information out, canvas network style, to their learners? Would this not make it easier to students to assess what courses they should sign up for? And, if it's a core course that they need to complete, then the section might make a difference, because two faculty can take radically different approaches of working with the content. I think that this is an interesting direction that Learning Management Systems can go into!

What do you think?