During a blogging hiatus there’s been some interesting activity around #acadmooc, which finished on 12 May.
Ken Ronkowitz (the instructor) has left a comment on my first post: he had originally planned to make the tone less formal, however Canvas wanted things more courselike; he also found aspects of the discussion tool frustrating, but found the café and introductions thread “useful in getting a better feel for the participants”, particularly as people do not tend to complete profile pages -> yes, but not at scale or in a stream, there has to be a better way to build community.
Ken kicked off a completion and lurkers thread on 9 May, commenting that at least 20% of registrants did not view any content on the MOOC, and a “good number” only participated in module 1. So what does completion and lurking mean in this context, and what can we measure? Here’s a summary of the 24 responses:
- both the 10% completion rate (and going down, see the latest on Kay Jordan’s research) and the 90-9-1 rule are normal in ‘free’ online environments
- see also Bartle gamer types - most (80%) explore (lurk? they are engaged by obfuscated achievements), some want to achieve (hence the certificate), others (socialites) want to discuss (readings are not their main concern) and 1-2% will ‘kill’ to be on top of things, be the best
- the negativity of the term ‘lurker’ – not an appropriate name for someone who wants to see the content but doesn’t buy into the full “have to do collaborative work with a bunch of people” and “these exact weeks make sense for my life” premise
- MOOCs as OERs - a digitally enhanced textbook where you can chat with the author and other readers, or a potentially confusing experience with no sense of a cohort of participants and thousands of unread posts?
- is there a way of giving potential participants alternate routes, eg the full course experience or (for example) the interactive video experience?
- a participant’s intent may change during the course – once the full ‘black box’ of content is opened up and workload increases after the often easy peasy first week what is appropriate may well alter – > cf most of my MOOCs
I posted too as the lurking issue really gets my goat – see listener or lurker and alone together for a fuller discussion. Ken commented that “being engaged in any online course of any size means being involved in the discussions. It’s like web 1.0 and web 2.0 – read only and read/write”. I can’t agree with this – there are many types of engagement, including reading, reflecting and creating one’s own knowledge.
Update: in Rethinking lurkers Ken has posted the following slide showing the architecture of participation, which has no room for discussion per se. There’s a need to straighten out what we mean by engagement and participation:
Being a Bartle explorer I prefer reflection to discussion. Do my blog posts then not show ‘engagement’ in the course? I never got round to tweeting or posting them in the forum (although a blog aggregator would have got over this), but they are ‘open’ and available as an ‘artefact’. I like to call this approach ‘active lurking’.
And what about auditing ie listening, does that also not qualify as engagement? Auditors who listen for the pleasure of learning (sic) rather than for a credit may well take more away than someone who autowrites discussion posts. For me most discussion forums offer at best short term low value data, but more often plain old over-sharing.
As I’ve suggested elsewhere summing up a thread is a really useful *learning* experience – try it, rather than ‘just’ reading and (that 1%?) posting on a forum. For example, the log of the Stephen Downes chat otherwise hidden in Canvas could benefit from a summary (see also the version on Stephen’s own blog). Another way of engaging with the content is to filter and even review broadcast links from Twitter, which otherwise will be lost.
In his continuing the MOOC conversation post Ken states: “at least half the value in Academia and the MOOC was in connecting with other participants in the forums”. I’ve left a comment.
Finally, Ken asked for any experiences on following the course on a mobile device, including using the Canvas iOS app:
- no better or worse than Moodle or Blackboard native apps; a question of size – scrolling and pinching to resize not enjoyable
- OK for the chat
- not happy taking extra steps to view an embedded video that opens the YouTube app and navigating back
- pages view does not include modules view, so pretty useless unless you’re going for a specific page
- using the website on an Android phone - OK to navigate and passively read the contents; however actively creating content is tedious and more or less not possible (due to small size)
- one participant did the course over email: “I have been getting the general drift and enjoying the course at a level that suited me”
An appropriate theme under the circumstances!
#acadmooc’s final module looks at issues and predictions for MOOCs:
- the ‘crisis’ in higher education – MOOCs as opportunity or threat, see eg Nicholas Carr (or Edukashun is brocken from Martin Weller)
- beyond universities – schools, community colleges, training in the corporate sector (see Sheila MacNeill on other galaxies)
- for professional development – ie CPD, hmm that’s what most cMOOCs are for IMO, even if not (yet) part of a recognised accreditation system
- issues around online learning – how important is it to make a distinction between online education and MOOCs; are the problems that occur in online courses only exacerbated in a massive and open course? and is there a significant difference between f2f and online learning anyway?
- disruptive innovation - how disruptive are MOOCs? see Nigel Thrift article
- who is playing and paying - the major players infographic is just one context, surely, although Martin Weller and others are getting quite upset
- the hidden costs of free MOOCs – tutors are doing it gratis now, but will this continue? will the dominant higher education pricing model (students paying a single price for a package of services they may or may not need), also come under stress?
- institutions of all kinds will need to re-examine the value they provide to students, what it costs and the price the market will bear
Finally, the future. As long as we are talking evolution rather than revolution, there are some emerging trends:
- variations on the model as new ways of offering learning, eg MOCCs (Mid-Sized Online Closed Courses), SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses)
- attempts to assess students and give some type of recognition or credit for MOOCing will create further variations (see Donald Clark’s taxonomy), such as…
- universities and companies creating, licensing and owning courses for use in smaller, closed environments
- lowering the number of participants to permit evaluation by instructors/facilitators rather than peer assessment and standardised tests
The full course sequence also included the Using Canvas as student module. On the whole Canvas seems fine, quite linear but that can be helpful, eg embedding relevant discussions within the flow of the course. But it’s not open, ie you need to register to see the content, which may not be accessible after the course ends (update: as long as you know the URL for the course, and maybe any course, you can see the content). Crucially, there’s no relationship with other platforms, eg Twitter, and community functionality is limited. So overall a B, I think.
The course doesn’t conclude until 12 May, however I’m done with MOOCs about MOOcing – thoughts to be summed up on my main blog IDC. While the #acadmooc content has been pretty well put together, the discussion only model, combined with the low activity levels, hasn’t been enough to tempt me into the open…thanks though to Ken and Mary for their hard work.
First, kudos to #acadmooc for getting a tweetchat up with Bryan Alexander on 30 April/1 May – even if you wouldn’t know from the course home page (more on this issue in my latest #h817open post). I did mean to drop by, but got the day wrong, even before looking at time zone differences. This is a ‘cultural difference’ which needs attention – if you aren’t regularly checking into things in other time zones it’s easy to get confused. Turns out it was on at 1 in the morning though, just who does that suit?
So, tweetchats, synchronous, an event. Good things. I’ve done a Storify, to make it easier to catch up and preserve the thing for posterity. How easy though is it to ‘learn’ something from scanning a thread? I find I need some sort of curation, an approach I tried out on the #dataviz word cloud task and for the #etmooc chats on storytelling.
Two more events scheduled, both in the Canvas chat area. One on Sat 4 May 10 pm Paris/Sunday 5 May 8 am London (think they got this wrong as turned out to be 6 am CPH time), neither ideal, in the Canvas chat area, to discuss Daphne Koller on online education, and one on 8 May 7 pm EDT (
no idea EDT = Eastern Daylight Time, 7 pm is 1 in the morning in CPH…) with Stephen Downes. Efforts are also being made to continue the convo – obviously you get out of a MOOC what you put in, but is there really the impetus for #acadmooc | G+ community | Facebook group | LinkedIn group, given the level of activity during the MOOC itself?
Module 3 is all about case studies, highlighting the results of a survey of 103 xMOOC type professors:
- nearly half felt their online courses were as rigorous academically as the versions they taught in the classroom
- 79% thought MOOCs were worth the hype
- the median number of students per class was 33,000
- typically a professor spent over 100 hours on his MOOC before it even started; while others made do with a few dozen hours
- once the course was in session profs typically spent 8-10 hours per week
- it was not unusual for a professor to be drawn into the discussion forums – most posted at least once or twice per week, and some posted at least once per day
Interesting. Must dig out the data from my previous profs.
Several case studies put up for discussion:
- Bioelectricity (Coursera) – full report from Duke available, with lots of quant data (21 page PDF report available); bit of discussion re reported motivations for completion: formal recognition of accomplishment, professional development, participation in the forums and other student interaction, and as a supplement to a credit bearing course, while a primary motivation for many was enjoyment or general enrichment
- Computational Investing (Coursera) – see blog posts from prof, but what’s unique to MOOCs here?
- Fundamentals of Online Learning (Coursera) – the one that broke Google, nuff said; see A tale of two MOOCs and own post, plus new review
- Microeconomics for Managers (Coursera) – prof left
- Canvas Student Survey – hmm anyone else written on the Canvas platform, I wonder?
- additional case studies put up include Dr Chuck (working on Sakai, use of meet-ups to increase interaction with students, cultural values that need to be learned by students taking xMOOC courses taught by Western faculty) and History a la MOOC
Two additional resources for cases FWIW:
Following #lutwit just a quick bookmark for some interesting research from the Digital scholarship day of ideas in Embra, organised by the crowd behind #edcmooc. For more see the DICE website and the MSc in Digital Education. Shame this stuff wasn’t around when I was a student, or is it as much me who has changed?
- Ethnographies of co-creation and collaboration as models of creativity in the digital age – how communities form; place, practice and artefact to constitute community; heterarchies as an indicator of functioning digital communities; see Nicola’s liveblog
- Copyright, authorship and ownership in digital co-creative practices – looking at collaborative practices and concepts of ownership; attribution as an indicator of a healthy digital community; concepts of reciprocity are challenged across time, space and people in networks, asynchronous and symmetric; see Nicola’s liveblog
- Digital history and big data: text mining historical documents on trade in the British empire – lack of shared ontology makes sharing of big data between different scientific communities challenging; see blog post and ELTG (got a run out a #or2012 as well)
- Design-led knowledge exchange between the academia and the creative industries – as opposed to knowledge transfer; reciprocity issues again; see Peter’s liveblog
- Digital professional personhood – from a tweet: disintermediation means the emergence of new intermediaries, relevant not least to MOOCs
Issues around reciprocity and the concept of intermediaries is of current interest in relation to MOOCs, PLNs etc, and also as roles in communities/networks. See also Martin Weller on the reciprocity economy, a concept he says he will revisit for the next #h817open along with engagement.
Checking in again on #h817open, although I’m kinda doing the lite version via #acadmooc.
Week 5 looked at what pedagogy is appropriate for open learning, and whether the abundance of content has implications for teaching. Are different models required or are existing ones adequate?
Not my bag, but here are the activities for reference:
- read A pedagogy of abundance and consider how educators can best take advantage of abundance in their own teaching practice, and how they can best equip learners to make use of it
- readings on connectivism, developed specifically in response to the possibilities offered by a global network and which places the network at the core of its approach: Siemens | Downes
- devise a course outline that takes a strong connectivism approach,based round eight key principles – couldn’t find an example easily in the blog aggregator, highlighting the need for MOOC curation again…
- explore the concept of rhizomatic learning via a Dave Cormier video - the biological metaphor of a rhizome likens learning to the roots of a plant, which can spread out laterally and horizontally, consisting of a series of nodes, with no distinct centre, beginning or end, and no defined boundary; rhizomes resist organisational structure and chronology and instead grow and propagate in a ‘nomadic’ fashion; promotes peer support, learner responsibility and an appreciation of the power of the network
Week 6 looked at the types of technology needed to operate in an open world, including the issue of technology determinism, key technologies and digital literacies.
- discuss the chicken and egg conundrum – how technology and pedagogy inter-relate
- technologies for openness – overviews of blogs (and blog culture as a counterpoint to academia), RSS, links and embeds, social networks (ie Twitter and Facebook), VLEs, with the activity to propose an addition – see also the post on #h817open’s tech and why it was chosen
- read the review of digital literacies and consider a set of open learner literacies required by the open scholar
Which brings us to week 7, the conclusion, taking us full circle back to artefacts…”create a video [reflecting on what you have learned in the course] and share it via your blog, using YouTube, Vimeo or other video-sharing sites. If you prefer not to create a video then you can use another tool or medium of your choice, but avoid just plain text in this instance if possible”.
So much for the blog aggregator. If being part of a MOOC is being part of a reciprocity economy (vs the tyranny of sharing) blogging c/should play a key role, but I’m left feeling it is not up to the mark…I’d love some stats on MOOC participation via blog posts, wonder if anyone has done any research on that. As I stated in the course survey, I’d be up for curating on an aggregator in future.
Anyway, a post-MOOC reflective session took place on 2 May, at 20:00 UK time. It’s not available on the recordings page, but there is a link to a slidecast and I managed to grab some/all? of the chat.
First though, I deleted the message about the session and had some difficulty finding out when it was on – no mention on the home page for the MOOC, which also has no link to the discussion forum, updates re what might be happening today, announcements etc. There’s no currency, the whole page looks like it was written months ago.
I also missed the #acadmooc tweetchat – as well as no quick way of finding details this one had the added delight of opaque time zone acronyms. There has to be a better way than this – it should be OBVIOUS where to find out what’s going on – at least pull in a Twitter feed. How does all this work on a mobile, I wonder? Definitely time for the three Cs.
From the slidecast:
- xMOOC vs cMOOC – not really a binary distinction, need a balance to be useful
- 556 enrolled, 239 syndicated blogs (911 posts), ~500 visits/week, ~50 at the live sessions
- G+ community best, Twitter not great for the community angle (interesting for community development as a whole)
- how to orient people in the first weeks and help them make connections? pick three blog posts at random (dipping in metaphor) and comment on them
- importance of weekly email for establishing the identity and tone of the course
- people need to be persuaded to be open (so it’s not just me then)
- among the questions for discussion – are MOOCs sustainable? where else would the #h817open approach be applicable?
From the chat (21:33-21:56):
- the chaos of the forums meant people moaned (a lot) and left or did not even visit – probably impossible to structure the first week but maybe encourage people that it will settle down soon!
- is the ability to lurk and drop in and out positive for serious study? sometimes need to drop in and off because of work commitments
- NB it’s not easy to learn from the posts of others since it requires considerable knowledge and ability to identify what is useful (plus you need context)
- in MOOCs learning through participation is on your own terms, not performing tricks for the tutor – however the totally open approach will not work for most HE students at the moment; how can we help more people to benefit? PLNs and curating info are new to most
- NB this MOOC more like joining/attending a community or conference; level of commitment can vary; ‘eventedness’ = being part of a network, growing a PLN (what does this really mean? it’s meant to be a course)
- MOOCs with synchronous sessions more attractive – an event focuses attention and makes it feel special; spontaneous chat arises and builds community
First, a couple of announcements have popped up in my mail. Someone has asked about a list of links in the course…not quite clear what this means, but I’m guessing the enquirer means the stuff scattered over Twitter, the discussion forum. This is a key issue – MOOCs need curation. This one has editable pages (A list of MOOC providers | Additional readings), a start at least.
I’ve dipped into the forums a couple of times, as unrewarding as ever, and fairly quiet. Someone (again: no community feel, it’s just a random comment) has suggested that rather than one threaded forum participants should be divided/divide themselves into interest groups – another recurring theme. There is a search box for the forums, and a link leads to the person’s profile, but this isn’t rich enough for proper engagement. And as someone else commented, there’s not much discussion going on, it’s more position taking.
Onward…module 2 looks at MOOCs from the perspectives of five academic roles:
- teacher - how different is teaching in a MOOC setting? the large number of students limits or precludes 1:1 communication with students and assessment – one approach has been to use peer assessment and rely on student:student communication; are these pedagogically sound practices, and how does this effect the teacher? Tutors on my other MOOCs seemed to enjoy the experience, however have remained pretty remote, leading to a new potential role of ‘personal MOOC tutor’ mentioned at #sotonmooc, along with issues around ‘academic stars’
- instructional designer – is it the same designing an online course for 50 or 50,000? in the examples of MOOCs that failed or floundered, flaws in the design of the course seem to be often cited
- support – scope given is IT (hardware and software) and Admissions and Online Learning for (registration and student services); the LMS, help desk…key issue mentioned is scaling
- student – from the perspective of ’ordinary’ students, how odd
- administration/institution – charging fees for tuition and offering credits (badges!); while (mostly) elite universities have been offering MOOCs at no cost the next phase is likely to be to consider business models; can a MOOC be a way to recruit students to a school by offering them a sense of what a course at your institution is like? also: intellectual property issues (ownership of course materials), faculty contracts, impact on institutional accreditation, desire to be seen as innovative and ‘on the cutting edge’, impact on ‘traditional online course’ offerings
I’m not moved to join the forums based on the above, however a nice article on making MOOC platforms more dynamic has been highlighted, looking at my 3Cs (content, community, curation):
Information design models appear more suited for a Web 1.0 environment. The content is static, updated once a week…interaction with other students is restricted to the forums, thus situating each participant as an isolated, autodidactic learner…the information is painfully linear…by week ten, you find yourself scrolling to the bottom of an infinitely long page.
Discussion forums are criticised as being isolated – in Canvas they are at least embedded within the course, however this can mean that discussion quickly fades, leading to a “labyrinth of missed connections…the value of such minimally active forums relative to the effort of navigating them is low”.
Four ways of making MOOCs more dynamic:
- Integrated real time discussion – the MOOC as event. Embedding Twitter would be a start!
- Crowdsourced annotations – social reading, blogging. Curation, please.
- A more authentic community – G+ communities can help, but a community needs development/management.
- Open source plugins.
While cMOOCs may integrate some of the above, the amount of support required means it’s unlikely within a ‘classic’ xMOOC. But maybe a MOOC with this level of support would be able to charge, eh? A s(upported)MOOC?
Here are my notes from module 1.
MOOCs are about learning in a networked world…this type of lifelong learning, while structured much like a course, is more of an event around a topic and possibly not connected to a school.
Moving on to MOOC pre-history, an overview of the development of distance learning from correspondence courses to instructional TV, through online learning and the introduction of discussions, live/synchronous activities and the take-up of social media.
On the pedagogic side, there has been (largely) a shift from ‘the sage on the stage’ to the ‘guide on the side’, plus a stress on evidence based learning and PBL, making students responsible for their own learning. Web 2.0 and networking concepts have led to a stress on personalised meaning and socialised connectivity, making learning less of an isolating activity.
The Student:Student:Teacher relationship is changing via the wikis, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media that create learning communities.
Enter MOOCs, “built on Connectivism which greatly increases the relationships amongst students and makes them not only responsible for their learning but for the learning of their fellow students”. Connectivism “holds that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks”.
Early MOOCs were:
- open for enrollment by anyone (no admissions requirements)
- free of cost
- using open source products
- content that was free to reuse
The current definition seems to be more one of open access to courses, but not necessarily an open platform or with open content. The next phases is likely to be adding a business model that attaches some types of fees and then credit to courses.
Two main models:
- cMOOCs – connectivist, a distributed knowledge network – “a personal web environment that combines resource aggregation, a personal dataspace, and personal publishing. It allows you to organize your online content any way you want to, to import content – your own or others.”; not proscriptive. Participants set their own learning goals and type of engagement, so not every course completer will take away from the course a specific, fixed skills, competencies, or knowledge.
- xMOOCs – instructivist, hub and spoke model – short videos, automated testing to check students’ understanding, discussion forums, centred on instructor guided lessons and lectures; linear design, fixed competencies (learning can be tested and certified) –> ‘traditional’ view of knowledge and learning, can it really scale?
- see also MOOC taxonomies, NOOCs, BOOCs…
A clear difference is the method of delivery and how resources as aggregated. In a cMOOC participants have their own learning goals and level of engagement, and add content themselves through discussion posts and links, resulting in a more complex and flexible model.
Much of the buzz around MOOCs has been because people are impressed by the calibre of schools doing them and the numbers of students they attract, but best practices are beginning to emerge and some lessons have come from courses that were less successful. Sources of data include:
- enrolment demographics – see Donald Clark on who’s using MOOCs
- assessment data
- completion rates – the 10% meme; see Katy Jordan’s data
- persistence - the importance of getting students successfully through the earliest experiences in the course
- engagement – via the number of video views and downloads
- case studies
- MOOCs as networks – a defining factor, giving rise to potential for a range of approaches, from network theory and #sna to community development and management.
- MOOCs as conversations – threaded forums are not conversations, and do not scale, particularly when participants have such varying backgrounds and needs.
- MOOCs as (learning) communities – bypassing the pros and cons of connectivism for now, the ‘anti-social in the social’ has to be acknowledged – not everyone feels the need to share, or learns the same way.
- MOOCs as events – simply because they take place at a fixed time? So could benefit from open event and amplification approaches, in particular in terms of extracting the knowledge, and synchronous activities.