I have recently joined my first MOOC, 20% Time, on Google Plus. Because I’m in the beginning stages it is difficult to share my experiences of it comprehensively. Wikipedia describes a MOOC as follows:
…[A]n online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). (Wikipedia)
MOOCs encompass learning without boundaries. It is learning with an internet connection that enables the user to learn as much (or as little) as they want mainly through the amount of effort put forth.
Some well known management systems for MOOCs are: edX, Coursera and UDACITY. Wikipedia states that “…MOOCs require instructional design that facilitates large-scale feedback and interaction” (Wikipdedia). Two vital approaches to assessing MOOCs are as follows: “…Crowd-sourced interaction and feedback by leveraging the MOOC network, e.g. for peer-review, group collaboration, and automated feedback through objective, online assessments, e.g. quizzes and exams” (Wikipedia).
While in graduate school, I participated in a light version of a MOOC without even knowing it. Blackboard.com was the main way the students in our classes interacted in an effort to build the ‘community’ Wikipedia mentions in their definition. I found that the more I interacted on Blackboard (via SAOQ) the more I learned in the course. It stands for Summary Analysis Opinion and Question. This SAOQ was introduced by one of my professors (Pam Livingston). This was also a useful way Pam assessed us.
This is a benefit to a MOOC, the interactivity. When used appropriately, MOOCs can influence in-person discussion in the following ways: amongst staff members in meetings, faculty members during department meetings and students in and out of class with more thought-provoking questions and evidence of learning through their interactivity. I like this emerging technology because of its potential when used and the small learning curve that it provides for new users.
Some challenges that a user could face with a MOOC would be: the inability to access certain necessary websites that may be blocked (e.g. due to the IT departments filter or other restrictions on to the internet) and the inability to form a relationship between student and teacher (or the like). While a clear line of communication should be all that is needed to resolve the first issue, many times this challenge may seems difficult to overcome. Persistence and clear expectations of an emerging technology are needed to ensure your community doesn’t miss out on this (and other) opportunities for enhancing education with technology.
The latter challenge provides for minimal face-to-face contact (other than video conferencing) and “…lack[s] the possibility of mentorship and close guidance that comes through the building of a meaningful relationship between student and teacher” (Levinson). Levinson talks about this more in his article and cites Annie Murphy Paul by stating:
‘The level of comfort we feel in another person’s presence can powerfully influence how intelligent we feel, and in some sense, how intelligent we actually are, at least in that moment. Now multiply that one-on-one interaction by tens or hundreds, and you start to get a sense of how important a sense of belonging to a learning community can be’. (Levinson)
When it comes to various learner characteristics and developmental levels, MOOCs allow for interactivity among different learners. There is a mixture of different ways people learn and with the many online resources this environment provides, it seems to be able to suit a diverse education population. These resources include: video podcasts and podcasts, real time video instruction, chat rooms, peer learning, etc. These resources (and many more) will help various learners but I feel the missing link will be someone who represents a Teacher Assistant or a tutor. A liaison that can bridge the online activity with what a user will learn through understanding will be key for the differentiated learners in a MOOC environment.
I recommend the emerging technology, MOOC, for my school because of the critical thinking and thought-provoking interaction it promotes, and because it can serve as a technological learning tool for faculty, staff, and students alike. I am cautious to ensure that the students’ learning goals are monitored closely because if left unattended this emerging technology could provide more challenges than benefits. I agree with Wikipedia when they state the following:
The goal [with MOOCs] is to re-define the very idea of a ‘course,’ creating an open network of learners with emergent and shared content and interactions. A MOOC allows participants to form connections through autonomous, diverse, open, and interactive discourse (Wikipedia).
Horton, Howard E. “COOCs vs. MOOCs”. WordPress.com. n.p., 1 July 2013. Web 1 July 2013. <http://edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/coocs-vs-moocs/>
Levinson, Matt. “Where MOOCs Miss the Mark: The Student-Teacher Relationship”. Edutopia. n.p., 8 Feb. 2013. Web 30 June 2013. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/where-MOOCs-miss-the-mark-matt-levinson>
“MOOC”. Wikipedia. n.p., 13 June 2013. Web 30 June 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mooc>
Plourde, Mathieu. “MOOC Poster v3”. Digital Art. Flickr.com. Yahoo Inc. 13 April 2013. Web 9 July 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/23311795@N04/8620174342>