Before any good discussion begins, everyone needs to be on the same page, using the same meanings for the same terms, or at least understand the differences. In the lead-up to the start of mobi.mooc and #potcert (Program for Online Teaching Certificate), spreading thoughts on differences between elearning and mlearning.
Clark Quinn’s Learnlets showed up in my RSS feed this morning with a pointer to RJ Jaquez and discussion of this topic. Quinn talks briefly about learning augmentation, and gets to the crux of the matter,
If your mobile solution isn’t doing something unique because of where (or when) you are, if it’s not doing something unique to the context, it’s not mlearning.
Which is all well and good. He goes on to say that most people don’t use tablets when running to catch a plane (I do), and even though interface is a bit tangential
it’s mostly about performance support, or contextualized learning augmentation, it’s not about just info access in convenience.
So there IS the form factor, but it is not central to this issue of mlearning. Mlearning is in what the software does, not what the hardware looks like.
Jaquez writes a list of requirements for mlearning, and he is specific about touch screens, screen orientation, content as navigation, sensors, and of course, location.
All this is interesting, but shouldn’t a good elearning program these days be able to add in features of mlearning when needed or when the learner is capable of using them? OK, there are pragmatic concerns, and just adding mobile features to an elearning program is not making it mlearning, but can’t there be a way to segue from one to another seamlessly? And does it matter?
This MOOC, like Change11, covers a whole academic year. It covers many topics realted to managing and teaching in an online environment. I hope to use it to shape my courses as I move more of the activities and content online from the classroom. Since I teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL), along with many content courses (technology related) at my university in Tokyo, I plan to use class time more effectively by doing activities that do not require a computer so much, and leave the tech stuff for outside of class. As such, it has to be dead simple, easy, fun, and with a lot of support. More later.
I’ve been wondering about this since the Change11 MOOC. You have your xMOOCs at places like MITx and Coursera, and Udacity, and your cMOOCc like Change11, PLENK2010, and CCK08. But adapting a course into a MOOC is, I think only possible if you can bend some of the parameters of a MOOC.
DS106 is the template for MOOCifying a course. Jim Groom (and now Alan Levin, CogDog) has opened up his university course on Digital Storytelling, and added a digital online gallery to his project based course with a doorway for outside participants to add their work to the commonweal and interact with the registered students.
There are a number of elements of a traditional university class, though, that don’t quite fit into the MOOC mold. The Massive part must be an add-on, and not central to the activity, as is the Open part. Registered students are by definition closed. When a class meets in person, it is blended with online, which stretches that part of the definition. And Course. What can we make of a course? I tend to think (as suggested by someone in Change11) that Conference would be a better C than Course. The cMOOCs do have a flavor of an academic conference, or even an unconference.
Which leaves us with MOOC MOOC, the MOOC about MOOCs that finishes today. After an intense week of online interaction with other professionals about MOOCs, I can see a pattern developing. A schism, a split. Who knows which of the two (3?) branches of MOOCs will flourish or not?
The MOOC MOOC had at its center an LMS. Purists would deride any kind of top-down centralization, preferring organic conglomerations of members on an ad-hoc basis. This MOOC was more highly structured in some ways, partly due to the fact it only lasted a week, and people needed to be able to navigate quickly. Change11 on the other hand lasted almost a year, with weekly visiting experts, each with varying control, allowed users (What do you call MOOCer?), allowed enough time to suss out how the structures developed as they were being built by the users.
I’d have to say that it is good people are playing with the formula (kind of goes with the territory). So far, my most enjoyable MOOC has been the Change11, with just the right amount of structure vs. freedom. The weekly expert was one way to organize around a topic, with a focal point and person, without getting too involved in any one aspect for too long. It was organic, with participation varying wildly from week to week, depending on both inside and outside factors.
But hey, that is just me. I am guessing that there will develop a whole array of MOOC-type organizations (and here again, DS-106 is becoming an organization, with the start of franchising in a small way), providing just the right learning environment for a part of the learning population.
University courses are too inflexible, too tied down to allow MOOCification. But we will be able to take aspects of the MOOC into the curriculum at some points. It will be important to maintain “pure” MOOCs after the initial period of exploration and interest in the new learning culture (the “ooh-ahh period”). I would guess that eventually the “pure” MOOCs will make up less than 10% of this kind of environment, but that they will continue to foster new ideas for interaction that others can use. Pure MOOCs will always be at the frontier of exploration.
We are asked, in MOOCMOOC, two questions, the one above, and “What does it do, and what does it not do.” 1000 words. One picture. Sounds a bit like DS106.
That’s 3 questions by my count. But no mind.
Laura Linney in The Big C, photo by SatinShirt
This assignment reminds me of a TV show (guilty pleasure) about a lady with cancer (I don’t pay attention to details much, so the name escapes me). In one of the episodes, she goes to a motivational speaker’s workshop. The registration process is all very well organized, all the way down to messages in the room as to what to do. Wear a pink backpack. In the course of the show, they discover the pink backpacks are filled with rocks. Everyone is struggling their hardest to act normal and accomodate the motivational speaker. Then there is a bit of oneupmanship. People are proud to be carrying the backpack.
The lady with cancer (Laura Linney) tries to leave, is begged and bullied by the speaker to stay. She is tired and cranky and gets so incensed, she drops the backpack along with a half dozen expletives, and refuses to carry it any more. Turns out that was the point. Don’t do stuff just because people tell you to. Even people in authority.
I can’t find the place to collaborate, so I am posting here. I think it will get sorted out eventually, but that is OK. I probably signed up late and time zones are worse than flipped classes in this kind of course. You need to be on vacation for these if you live half way around the world.
But that is OK. Figuring out how a MOOC works is part of the MOOC. I was completely lost in my first MOOC way back fo CCK08. I wandered into another area of research, but returned for PLENK10, and like that a lot. It was more centered on an LMS, less distributed than before. With Change11 I had become adept enough not to need the training wheels of the LMS.
A good MOOC is the proverbial elephant and we are all blind men, talking to each other, describing what the focus of the MOOC is about. Eventually you get a complete picture, but only if you collaborate, and take notes, and are able to hold up your end of the describing process. A lot of times this fails. Failure is part of learning, indeed, it is the essential element in learning. It is just that failing together is a lot more fun.
A bad MOOC is simply a course or online collaboration that doesn’t have all four components that correspond to the MOOC (See Wiley). I think Coursera measures up under these criteria.
But the connectedness is the element that is so hard to measure, and the myriad interactions that (should) go on in a MOOC, mostly at the edges of the MOOC, is the part that is the most important. I think it was Downes that said, “Content is the McGuffin”.
This reminds me of another movie. The pool shark movie sequel with Tom Cruise, who is counseled by the star of the first movie, Paul Newman. Paul says, “The real money is not in winning the tournament, but in the side games, the ones with the rich guys trying to beat the champ.”
MOOCs require some prerequisite abilities, and I am not sure those abilities can be developed with MOOCs. Critical thinking, analysis or the other higher Bloom levels, and things as simple as note taking. I am trying to think of things that can’t be taught with MOOCs, and musical instruments stand out. Mostly because of the online part.
Anyway, it is past midnight and the deadline is before I get up. I am about 400 words shy here, and about 3 references shy, but I am going to drop my bag of rocks and look around to see what other people are doing. Oh, and check out this article about economics and MOOCs. Found it at the edge of Bon Stewart’s Foucalt article.
Part of a MOOC is figuring out how it works. Our second day assignment was to collaborate with others on a document defining a MOOC. I go to the collaboration page and get this .
No list of current collaborations.
The Current Collaborations section is empty (for me). Not sure how the collaborative part comes in. Maybe it is because I am in Tokyo, and thus experience things half a day ahead of the western hemisphere. I guess I will start a new one? The instructions intimate that there are some collaborations already set up….and Chris seems to have found it…(iMac OSX 10.7 using Chrome)
Update:This got sorted about an hour after I posted this. The Google Docs were manually set up, and I was asking the setter-upper at 4 AM his time. Things all going smoothly now, but foresee lots of time zone issues in a course this short.