Monday, February 18, 2013

The power of MOOC

I have recently found myself in a MOOC. A #diffimooc to be specific. For those not in the know about this, a MOOC is a massive open online course.  It's a way for a university to offer a course, incorporate many useful and relevant communication and collaboration tools, and promote the idea of openness and sharing of information and ideas - the essential heart of web 2.0.
People who are taking the course for credit have some specific assignments to complete, but the discussions and ideas are available to anyone who wants to participate.

It's a model that actually puts together tools and ideas many have spent time cobbling together on their own, and in a pretty neat way.

One of the great benefits of a MOOC, and the #diffimooc I am part of, is that it is giving educators this whole experience of networking, collaborating, and sharing in a fairly structured way (even though I know it doesn't always feel that way to participants sometimes!). Building a network is a fairly sloppy process on it's own - how people personalize it and use it varies widely.  The MOOC is allowing them a safe, guided way to build networks and find the key tools to begin with, rather than leave them to find it for themselves (as I had to).  Many teachers will and do find their way into this on their own, but many more do not - and would not - if it weren't for MOOC experiences.

I was excited to begin the #diffiMOOC, and as we move through this course, I find I sometimes have conflicting attitudes.  I am always happy to work with educators who are either new to the profession, or even just new to technology - it's a part of my work that I really enjoy.  However, I have to remind myself, when I went through this whole processes, I did it alone, and at my own pace. I did not feel the pressure of time, credits, or deadlines. I did not have any colleagues going through the same experience to express frustration to.  I do understand where there are frustrations with the MOOC, but when people let their frustrations overcome them and become disheartened and defeated, I feel disheartened too. I keep hoping that at some point they can find that spark that will help them to keep moving forward.

I don't know if other MOOCs are similar in terms of their requirements, but I suspect that of all the people who participate in a MOOC, about 1/3 will continue to actively build and participate in their networks. Depending on the size of some of these MOOCs - that is quite a number of educators (and other interested parties) who will learn to use and add to the power of our networks!

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