The word MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course” and the University of Illinois is currently offering one on the topic “Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow” The topic is what caught my attention. However, as I have become a part of the “EduMOOC” I am experiencing another learning construct. It reminds me a bit of what money-concerned business managers envisioned online learning might be – get one teacher with hundreds of students and economize the learning. This is NOT what a MOOC or Online Learning is all about.
With the EduMooc, we are encouraged to listen to the weekly panel discussion and then participate in any number of discussions via a wiki, Twitter (hashtag #edumooc), Google groups or Moodle groups. Jeff LeBow of EdTech Talk fame added in a weekly Skype call to talk about the EduMooc.
Like many things in the use of technology, it is best to just jump in and become part of it to learn about it. So, first, you can join the EduMooc now. Then, pick your medium for conversation. And, then contribute your thoughts.
You may enjoy watching this video which does a good job of defining a MOOC:
I found the more interesting way of learning about the MOOC, aside from participating in one, was to read this series of articles and blog posts about MOOCs by those who originated or contributed to the concept. First, here is a little history about MOOCs. I will do my best to chronicle my reading that lead me to participate in this EduMooc. George Siemens, one of the originators of the first MOOC, discussed the EduMooc and stated, “we’re starting to see new models for design and delivery”. Siemens provided further clarification about the history of MOOCs and then chronicled all of the recent posts here. David Wiley wrote about his thoughts about MOOCs here, here and here which challenged some of the MOOC thinking. He said, among other things “MOOCs are another tool in the box. If we start swinging them, hammer-like, at everything, we will do so to the detriment of students. We should be honest about the situations they may be appropriately used in, and make heavy use of them there. ” In addition, Stephen Downes responded and added to the definition of knowledge transfer as it relates to learning, teaching and MOOCs, “we know that knowledge is not justified true belief. We know that it’s a lot more complicated than that...” In between, Dave Cormier, also an contributor to the MOOC concept, added his thoughts here and then, here. Cormier said, “If the MOOC challenges anything, it challenges the idea that a teacher can decide what people need to know, how much they currently know and what they should get out of the learning process.” And then, an article about the EduMooc in The Chronicle, fanned the flames of the different perspectives (which I don’t think are that different). For me, it is fascinating reading these thoughts and responses from respected people in the field (open source, connectivism, online learning, web innovations, etc.) and this discourse helps to clarify exactly what a MOOC is.
In the Skype EduMooc call today (July 6), I suggested that, based on my observations of students in online courses, that it would be more difficult for high school students to participate in a MOOC than it would be for college students. I agree with Wiley’s suggestion that MOOCs work better for people who are more academically prepared or who are already independent academic learners.
So, join the EduMooc and decide if this type of learning works for you!