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The view from Carleton College's physics department

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Giving a mini-MOOC a chance

Posted by Melissa on August 12, 2012

MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) are all over the higher education news these days. Having never either taken or taught any sort of on-line course, much the less a MOOC, I’ve only guessed at what good and evil these brave new courses might hold. Then came the announcement a couple of weeks ago that Hybrid Pedagogy was hosting a week-long MOOC about MOOCs, and I decided to try participating in this mini-MOOC. My motivation was primarily curiosity.

Today was the first day of the MOOC MOOC, primarily an orientation day, but already I have two strong impressions:

1. There is a lot more potential for interactivity and connectedness in MOOCs than I had originally envisioned. While some MOOCS, particularly Coursera and EDx, tend to replicate traditional hub and spoke educational models, with the teacher distributing knowledge, other MOOCs are aimed at creating networks and generating knowledge. One of today’s suggested readings for the MOOC MOOC nicely outlines a participatory pedagogical model for MOOCs. It is this model that the mini-MOOC follows, and I’m intrigued.

2. The scale and style is overwhelming for a newbie like me. The “introduce yourself” thread contained hundreds of comments, and despite my best efforts to read through the comments to learn a bit about my fellow participants, I simply felt like I was drowning in a sea of unknown people who all seemed to have agendas, knowledge, and familiarity that I lacked. It is rather amusing that even in this sea of introductions, the person after me in the introduction thread was a colleague from Carleton. Nevertheless, as someone who values personal interactions and a tight-knit community, I felt distinctly disconnected and adrift in the mini-MOOC. Those feelings are accentuated because there is no designated individual to turn to for guidance or advice.

It’s clear I won’t be able to devote as much time to this endeavor as some of my fellow participants, but I’m interested to see how things unfold.

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5 Responses to “Giving a mini-MOOC a chance”

  1. Welcome to the overwhelming yet exhilarating world of moocs. That was my first reaction too. I know I can’t read everything, do everything, follow and respond to everyone but still want to try. Connecting to some, who, in turn, connect to others and so on, creates and expands networks. A colleague refers to the experience as an exercise in navigating chaos.

    PS love the blog title

  2. Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist said

    What a great idea, I wish I had thought to sign up. So they use synchronous web conferencing software, right? Do they put you in separate smaller “rooms” ever?

  3. […] Giving a mini-MOOC a chance […]

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