DTLT Today: “Hey MOOCie!”

Today’s DTLT Today episode explored the recent explosion of Massive Open Online Courses (a.k.a. MOOCs). 2011 is quickly becoming the Year of the MOOC qs more and more universities like the University of Illinois, Georgia Tech, and Stanford are experimenting with the format. I’m more and more excited about the potential of MOOCs these days, and while not a silver bullet for higher ed by any means—the have certainly provided UMW (and DTLT specifically) some really powerful ways to both energize our group while at the same pushing us to continue to innovate beyond the LMS. Andy Rush, Tim Owens and I explore the explosion of MOOC in this 15 minute episode. What’s more, it’s become apparent to me that I could put together a full load of interactive, open, and online courses this Fall—and in order to get a better sense of the various ways to run a MOOC I am planning on participating in a number of them with a keen eye on how they foster interaction.

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4 Responses to DTLT Today: “Hey MOOCie!”

  1. Diego Leal says:

    One innocent question, Jim: what makes you think that we won’t end up with MOOCs in the same place we ended up with EduPunk (sorry to bring back a painful affair 😉 )? I have a few ideas about that, but I’d love to hear your take on it…

    I have to say I like your approach better than others we’ve seen in the few years, because of the playfulness involved. That has worked quite well in my own experiments.

    Now, as I commented elsewhere, I really wonder if institutions (at large) do get what’s happening here, and what are the meaning/consequences of openness. I’ve seen a couple myself, backing off because “we can’t afford to be that open here (read: I have to protect my so-called competitive advantage), thank you”, so I wonder whether or not these practices will be fostered by ed organizations.

    Finally, I’d love to see the “M” in MOOC fading away. The “M” is possible if you have a great visibility yourself, or if you get an all-star team on board. Do the benefits of MOOCs depend exclusively on the “M”? I’m not convinced. In my experience, OOC can be enough. Just a couple external people joining the action can be enough to trigger interesting things. If we keep the “M” in the front, I’m afraid a lot of people will get quickly disappointed about their own small experiments…

    Just saying. 😉

  2. Reverend says:


    No one is innocent! 😉 But with that out of the way, you make a really important point about the MOOC and one I have thought about a bit, does a MOOC have to be massive in order to truly be innovative and inline with connectivist theory? Wiley noted that the massive was a misnomer because no MOOC has truly been massive. Siemens notes that the Massive is important to truly take advantage of the network effects, but as you note the Massive seems more deeply linked to popularity and high profile individuals than anything else. We are seeing that right now with Stanford’s AI course (which is a pretty cool development) but at the same time 10s of thousands of people signing up will always remain the exception for open, online courses, not the rule. What Alan Levine notes about the MOOC that puts it in focus for me was that it’s more about inviting others to join, and involving them when they do—then simply saying we are open. If I learned anything from ds106 about online, open courses (I wouldn’t call it a MOOC because it really wasn’t Massive either time) was that it recognized and included the online, open students into the class. It made a space for them, acknowledged them, and they ran like hell with it. During the Summer of Oblivion course there were only a handful of open, online folks that played along, but their presence was amplified by how engaged and amazing they were, they changed the whole experience for everyone in the course, especially the for-credit students. What’s more, I think they tangibly made the course that much better on every level.

    As for MOOCs going the way of EDUPUNK, I’m not too sure what to say on that. Watching EDUPUNK become a cheap resource guide for the Bill Gates sponsored “rebels” couldn’t be more horrific when I think about it. But at the same time I think Brian Lamb’s notion that any term–even one like punk—has no real meaning outside of what you bring to it within a given moment and context. And I’d like to think EDUPUNK is not simply about free education and access to the latest list of OERs, but an attempt to liberate—and given the term has been hijacked that is what ds106 has meant for me and soon it will be something else. I just know when I do something with my heart and try not to exploit the work and ideas of others in the process while making things possibly better for a few on the aggregate then maybe that’s enough. Will there be those who exploit the idea of the MOOC? Sure. Do I care? Not too much, because we both know that exploitation is linked to money and attention more often than not, and once the money dries up or the attention passes on there will still be a need for people who have a soul to infuse people with a desire to imagine something more, something better. That is not the same as capital’s notion of the unlimited growth potential of wealth, rather it is the unlimited growth potential of the human imagination, we have conflated and confused the two, and it is the EDUPUNK’s job to disentangle that mess and bring it back home 🙂

  3. Giulia says:

    How will Jim Groom’s MOOC be different? Let me count the ways! I don’t have time to enumerate all of them right now but I MUST chime in that whatever genius learning plans springing forth from the fertile-idea-generation minds at UMW, I would sign up.

    Martha, Jim, Tim, Andy, and their incredible students seem to *get* connection like no one I had ever met before. Even when I absurdly masqueraded as an imaginary weirdo sock puppet, they were open, accepting and encouraging.

    I have been working on a response to Martin Weller’s “What can I learn from ds106?” post since he wrote it and I can’t seem to pause the growing list of learnings long enough to write it all down.

    So, Reverend, bring on the dancing MOOCs or whatever name you call them. I welcome them, arms wide open.

  4. Todd Conaway says:

    I tried to comment IN VIDEO yesterday on the DTLToday site but someone has hacked it into Oblivion. Uh, sorry, I could not resist.

    I still like the shape of characters and the squiggly lines they make when linked together in things called words. How fun!

    “…there will still be a need for people who have a soul to infuse people with a desire to imagine something more, something better.”
    Jim Groom

    “I just know when I do something with my heart…”
    Jim Groom

    “The name that can be named is not the eternal name…
    One observes its wonders…”
    Tao Te Ching

    I’d love to wade through wise words with Postman or Montessori, maybe a Dewey or a Druid, or Exupery or Seuss. When people ask me what I base my fricking brilliant educational theory on I usually point to a tree if there is one around.

    “There is a field out beyond right and wrong. I will meet you there ..”

    I have to go find another coffee…

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