The Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois, Springfield is offering a MOOC for anyone interested in teaching and learning online. This week I’ve been enjoying edumooc 2011: Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow: What the Research Tells Us which lists a variety of publications related to on line teaching and learning, offering a variety of different perspectives related to curriculum, assessment, and instruction within an open and on line delivery format.
I found it interesting that although this week’s focus in on (MOOC) research, (as of today) there was not one tweet using the hashtag #edresearch. But research is being conducted – to name a few: OER University (study group), No Significant Difference, and obviously the University of Illinois is carefully gathering data as the course unfolds. One thing that I would like to pass along is the survey that the OERu is drafting. With a little modification, this instrument could certainly be used at the beginning of any blended course in order to get an idea of student ICT readiness and preferences.
If you are interested in on line journals that cover on line teaching and learning, I found the following useful: Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), and the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks (JALN). Certainly there are others and you are encouraged to check the rest of them out if you get a chance.
Finally, if you would like a further description as to what a MOOC is, you might start by reading The MOOC Model for Digital Practice. This will give you some background, but what I’m finding is that as I participate in more MOOCs over time, there really is little consensus as to what a MOOC is exactly. There are many aspects of a MOOC to consider and much will depend on your own educational context as both a teacher and learner.
Most of us are familiar with some form of either blended learning (some combination of offline/online delivery, synchronous/asynchronous types of communication, and learning theory/theories) or online blended learning (basically blended learning with no face-to-face contact) since I suspect there are few teachers these days that shy away completely from using technology in some form or fashion. I know there are some, but I have to believe the numbers continue to dwindle down.
Anyway, for EduMOOC 2011, participants are interacting in a variety of ways: (a) Google Groups, (b) Wikispaces, (c) Moodle Forums, (d) Twitter hashtag – #edumooc, (e) edumooc blog, (f) personal blogs like this one, (g) Twitter list, (h) online newspaper, (i) Diigo, (j) Delicious, (k) Facebook, and (l) OERu study group, aggregators, among others. A MOOCast went out on Tuesday as well which appears that it will continue for the duration of the course. Clusters are forming throughout the web as each participant decides the way in which to engage with others.
So, you may be asking yourself,
How in the world do I keep up with the large amounts of information passing through so many different types of social media?
The answer is you don’t. It’s virtually (no pun intended) impossible to keep up with all of the different conversations going on in a MOOC at any given time. The trick is to find the technologies that you are used to and use them in such a way that information gets filtered back to you; for example, here is one simple way to participate in a MOOC that currently works for me. For others, sticking to one or two forum group discussions may be the answer. Indeed, there is no one right way to participate in a MOOC, only that individuals interact with each other and with the course content so to maximize meaningful and relevant experiences.
To find examples of other MOOCs, refer to this list: CCK08, CCK09, PLENK2010, and Change MOOC starting this Fall. Certainly there are others but these are MOOCs that I’ve been involved with over the last few years.
So, as an educator, teacher, trainer, mentor, facilitator, etc. and considering the different elements that make up an online blended learning experience, what attributes normally associated with the term MOOC do you take advantage of in your current teaching practice? What are some aspects of a MOOC that you find challenging or not particularly conducive to the learning process?
Whether you call it a MOOC or not, it’s really about the way in which participants interact with each other and with the content, forming the connections that help the learner gain the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind needed in order to advance the learning process over one’s lifetime.