After attending a FutureLearn partners webinar about designing online courses, the age-old issue of encouraging and engaging learners in online communication came up. It made me reflect on my past posts about online learning, specifically this one: MOOCs – 9 points on what I like, and what I don’t. If you want to go and read it before carrying on, be my guest.
Glad you came back. What annoys me about MOOCs, and some people who design online courses in general, is the assumption that everything you build will be used, and be used the way you want it to be used. VLEs are somewhat to blame for the apathy or lack of engagement in online activities, especially discursive or forums or comment sections – you’re locked into one specific tool for engagement. Continue reading →
Self-published through the Amazon Direct Publishing process Ignatia looks at the different options/formats for MOOCs and fits them in to best online learning practices and offers design and learning options. In the book she also looks at the pedagogy surrounding MOOCs and the options currently available for the often-criticised certification routes.
“The challenges and benefits of MOOCs are highlighted and guidelines on how to build an optimal MOOC experience are shared. Online learning best practices’ are listed with a focus on MOOC specific learning characteristics, certification options and pedagogies.”
The background and history to the current MOOC hype(first section of the book) is not for me, but it is worth reading as the basis for the cMOOC and xMOOC approach are explained well and are vital if you are to get the most out of the rest of the book. Continue reading →
If you’ve been away (for a long long time) you may not have heard about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). If you’ve been away for only a short time you’ll know of these things, but you may not have heard of Futurelearn.
In short, Futurelearn is the first UK-led “multi-institutional platform for free, open, online courses” whose aim is to “increase access to higher education for students in the UK and around the world by offering a diverse range of high quality courses through a single website.”
All good stuff so far. With the experience and weight of The Open University behind it, and partners including the British Library, the British Council and other leading UK Universities (Leicester, Bath, Warwick, Cardiff, etc.) it poses a significant investment of time and energy to ‘do it right’. Futurelearn
“believe there is great potential to change the way people access high quality higher education. With our partners, we are seizing the opportunity to create amazing new learning experiences, twinned with a clear pathway to qualifications for those that want them.”
In this article on the Times Higher Education website today – “Futurelearn’s boss on breaking into MOOCs” – Simon Nelson (Futurelearn CEO) claims the course platform “has the potential to become a social networking site for the student community as popular as Facebook”.
With the eBook edition of this book set at £0.00 I couldn’t resist seeing what the fuss is about – this book has received good and bad reviews. But, more importantly, it’s made people question our interest and reliance on online tools and websites and networks and activities.
Even though I’m only a few chapters in to the book already I’m realising my over-reliance and over-bearing interest in putting my work and family life online (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) is not necessary. For the most part it’s intrusive and getting in the way (especially photo-editing family pictures to post to Facebook – yes, it’s sharing for those who can’t be present, but it still gets in the way of the actual event).
“Rather than virtual or second life, social media is actually becoming life itself – the central and increasingly transparent stage of human existence, what Silicon Valley venture capitalists are now calling an ‘Internet of People’.”
“What I glimpsed in that late November afternoon in Bloomsbury was the anti-social future, the loneliness of the isolated man in the connected crowd.”
“Personal visibility, I recognised, is the new symbol of status and power in our digital age. Like the corpse locked in his transparent tomb [Jeremy Bentham], we are now all on permanent exhibition, all just images of ourselves in this brave new transparent world.”
What a great video with so much to say, but I’m concentrating on the elements of the “importance of teacher presence” section, especially given my recent experience with the Coursera / Edinburgh EDC MOOC:
“The role of an academic now is really designing learning environments that engage students. If I’m saying that engagement is the Holy Grail I’d better be engaging in ways they enjoy, not that I’m used to.”
A. Prof. Emma Robertson:
“You have to be there, you have to be paying attention to what they’re saying. And what I find is if you do that effectively in the first two weeks the rest takes care of itself – you’ve established the benchmark that you’re expecting”
Prof. Matthew Allen
“Teacher presence is a very important part of the socialisation of students into online learning, and it’s not that you are therefore dominating and telling students what to learn, it’s that you’re playing the role of ‘guide-on-the-side’, the person who’s there to help the students along but not to become the one they rely upon.”
The rest of the video is also worth watching, for an insight into creating learning environments, strategies for motivating students, and sustaining participation and engagement. A good resource, as are others in the series ‘Learning to Teach Online’.
How I did this was quite simple … I knew I’d fade out after a week or so so I set a goal of one blog entry per week’s activity, including a pre-MOOC post and post-MOOC ‘submission feedback’ post. Now I had set myself this public goal I needed to follow and live up to it. It worked. This may not be to everyone’s taste or motivational style, but after 3 other failed MOOCs I wanted to finish one, just one.
MOOCs were also presented at the 2013 Blackboard Users Conference (#durbbu) by Jeremy Knox: MOOC Pedagogy
Which now brings me to the nature of the different MOOCs available. By now just about everyone knows what a MOOC is – if not there are plenty of excellent resources to help you on your favourite search engine. With more and more MOOCs available, and the organisations offering them increasing all the time, just what types of MOOCs are they, and what do they mean for the student?