Ok guys, part OU, part English learning, part mid-conference hysteria. The general view for myself and the H817 could be seen as MOOCs are a fine idea in principle and very principled in terms of promoting education for all, but not for us. Too expensive, too complicated, too difficult to justify funding.
However, in today’s LTSIG forum, the British Council profiled their MOOCs (hosted on Future Learn) and I felt a frisson of excitement for MOOCs again. This was in part because what students value is not the material or the quizzes, but rather the interaction in the comments page. Admittedly they prefer to comment than be commented on, but the potential to develop communities of practice, to promote collaborative working or just to know ‘you’re not the only one’ seems to be a big attraction to engaging in a MOOC. In which case, as posed in an earlier blog: Do I need to create a MOOC or rather a platform to generate discussion and interaction between learners?
As I always tell my students: “You know more than you think and you know different things from the person sitting next to you”. So perhaps MOOCs should be seen less as the silver bullet for open education access or as a good PR opportunity (as for the British Council), but rather as an opportunity for teachers to put into practice, and guide student expectation to, the idea that we, as teachers, are no longer the “the sage on the stage” but “the guide on the side”
Follow up for H817 Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs
Without engaging in detail with a Coursera course, I find it difficult to see much difference in between Coursera and Future Learn. What I know from Future Learn is that they do try to keep me on track through the use of reminder emails that 1 week has gone by. I haven’t done anything this week so whether this is a good thing or not I have yet to decide. However with regards to Future Learn itself, the British Council presentation did reveal some interesting details that give some insight into their pedagogy and approach.
Firstly their primary aim was to use the MOOC as a form of promotion for the British Council. Finding sustainable funding is not a primary concern – the support is there. But what they did discover was that expansive communities of practice did develop, and in some cases these sprouted futher smaller communities of learners who followed each other through the comments sections for each week. Indeed it seems that the comments section was were learning through interaction was really developed. This could be viewed
as rhizomatic imagery, with connections, discussions and connections developing from any point in the process. In addition, although it was discouraged, some students began to swop emails, contact details etc. so they could continue in their COP after the course was finished.
There was one issue which was mentioned and which I was concerned with the last time I began a Future Learn course – the overwhelming number of comments that can be generated (over 6000 in some cases) – so once more into the breach. Let’s see what happens for me on LEARNING ONLINE: LEARNING AND COLLABORATING.