This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

#ocTEL – Where MOOCs and MOOCs differ

I have gone through a variety of online learning experiences. I have been part of a focused and tightly designed learning module delivered entirely online, and I have enrolled into several Coursera offerings. On one hand, the closed unit was not a MOOC insofar as it was closed and was made up of a limited cohort. However, there were characteristics I would consider MOOC-eshk. For example, the entire course was underpinned by connectivism. Learning was generated through a diversity of opinions. Valuing other people’s ideas underpinned part of the critical reflective component. Finally, the outside world was encouraged to participate using integrated services such as Twitter and Flickr. What I had gained from such an experience could not be reproduced inside the traditional four walled classroom. However, Coursera MOOCs I have experienced are quite different.

I have enrolled into many Coursera MOOCs, and although they are accredited, they do not hit the mark in terms of engagement. They are rich in media, but do not offer opportunities for media to be manipulated. They encourage personal learning networks to thrive, but they do not provide space, and instead suggest other avenues for engagement (which is ok, but it is difficult to engage with a Facebook group of 1000+ people talking all at one; like a child in a large audience, your voice isn’t lost, it doesn’t exist – not really a ‘Personal’ learning network approach). This is not bad, but it can be delivered in a classroom just as easily than online. To plan rich and meaningful learning experiences for learners, a more structured, yet open approach is required. Structured learning experiences, followed by open interactivity from learners.  I began to distinguish differences in the design of MOOCs after reading Siemens’ theory of MOOCs. For one thing;

We don’t online align ourselves to the course content and the instructor; we align ourselves to other learners and their knowledge - Siemens

This suggests learning online is not receptive, but reactive. Learning about the content is not as important as than learning about how other people responded to the content. From there people are able discuss and decide what knowledge is reasonable and sound, and what is irrational. However, I would like to discover how we can channel such knowledge development to an assessable outcome. Otherwise, learning, although fun, may risk being poorly constructed ,especially if a discussion concludes on ideas which are not supported by authoritative research. This begins the dreaded balancing act of letting the learner learn through well developed educational design, without too much dependence from the instructor, after all,

When an instructor does for learners what learners should do for themselves, the learning experience is incomplete – Siemens

I guess the idea of the MOOC, does not guarantee viable learning. But the right pedagogy combined with design will allow people to engage with one another in a more cohesive way. I would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment on whether you think a closed learning environments underpinned by pedagogy are more effective than global participation.

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