“Pulling” Learning – MOOC

Today’s serendipitous Twitter find was MOOCs! It all started with a tweet from @mdclement, followed by my question: what is a MOOC? A few clicks later, I knew I’d found something I’d been looking for. Here’s a starting point for you on Massive Open Online Courses, by the folks in Canada who coined the term…

A little hunting around quickly explained why this meme was new to me… I had come across university-driven xMOOCs (like Coursera) before, and walked away disappointed. But I was still convinced that something better must already exist, something that serves the real world – because people with priceless knowledge to share are not all university profs! ( xMOOC is a more recent offshoot of the original MOOC idea, you can read more of this history here and here ).

I am really excited at what I read about “Connectivist MOOCs” or cMOOCs, but first I’ll summarise the difference between xMOOCs and cMOOCs, as I understand it so far…

@howtoMOOC “The xMOOCs are sonnets, and the cMOOCs are haiku, and they have very different characteristics.” http:// bit.ly/12fEryW

The term xMOOC is applied to organisations and plaforms like udacity, coursera and edX that provide *one* ready-to-use interpretation of the MOOC model. They focus on concise, targeted video content – with short videos rather than full-length lectures to wade through – and use automated testing to check students’ understanding as they work through the content.While they include discussion forums, and allow people to bounce ideas around and discuss learning together, the centre of the course is the instructor-guided lesson. Each student’s journey/trajectory through the course is linear and based on the absorption and understanding of fixed competencies. Learning is seen as something that can be tested and certified. (source)

The term cMOOC carries forward the original, “connectivist,” concept of the MOOC.

“… connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience.”

— in the #CCK11 MOOC by the authors of the MOOC concept. (read more on connectivism)

The connected aspect of learning is brought to the fore in a cMOOC. It’s a chaotic experience and is inherently personal and subjective, as participants create their meaning and build and navigate their own web of connections. cMOOCs are not proscriptive, and participants set their own learning goals and type of engagement. They won’t necessarily walk away with a fixed and tested set of specific skills or competencies, or knowledge of a set body of content… This, combined with the fact that the platform is totally open, means that they probably aren’t very easy to make any money from. cMOOCs are discursive communities creating knowledge together. (Ex: MOOCMOOC ) (source).

The authors suggest that the best way to understand a connectivist course is to participate in one, though they warn it may be a bit of a culture shock at first. I found an online list of cMOOCs, and even the past ones are still potentially useful, as you can follow the links to their ouput, in some cases.

I have to laugh, because my first encounter with MOOCs reflected the frustrations I hear from those who first encounter Stoos Network … great, but where do I start?? That is the first hurdle – accepting that no one is going to spoon feed you a platform or a process, there is no magic bullet toolset for doing this because, as one author put it “a MOOC is not a thing” – it is about the connections, and it is important that these emerge from the network. This is much more important than the exact tools or agendas used. The new paradigm is organised around “pull” – i.e. if you want it, you should organise to make it happen. You’ll see this explicitly addressed in the video below.

So, by way of starting points, I found two interesting things. First: A course outline from the originators of the MOOC concept: http://cck11.mooc.ca/how.htm and, second, another video from the originators on How to Succeed in a MOOC:

The language I hear used in talking about cMOOCs resonates with me, and feels congruent with what we are trying to do in the Stoos Network in changing the world of work.We want to create a workplace driven by intrinsic motivation, and fueled by life-long learning. To create this shift, I believe we must eschew traditional methods, better suited to traditional workplaces, and utilise new-paradigm methods to demonstrate and practise our ideas of how we want to work together in the future! (Heck – if we don’t think it’s worth working this new way… how can we recommend it to anyone else?)

I can’t wait to see what happens when cMOOCs meets Stoos!

Comments (3)

  1. Deb, MOOCs are a lightening rod. I hosted a Google+ Hangout on MOOCs and Business — Moocs with a purpose, if you will. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DGaUfWkJdi4

    I know the guy who invented the term and his pals who conducted the first one.

    It’s not really MOOCs that are important – most are crudely done. It’s their potential to disrupt higher ed for the better and to topple the [miserable] status quo that rocks.

    See my 14 articles on MOOCs for more. http://www.jaycross.com/wp/2013/02/14-articles-on-moocs/


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