What is a mooc?

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

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.

 

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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.

 

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