A number of staff at Bristol signed up for the Elearning and Digital Cultures Mooc (Massive Online Open Course), here are some of the thoughts of staff now that it has finished
Joseph Gliddon – Learning Technologist, Technology Enhanced Learning Team
For the past 5 weeks my evenings have been taken up with the Elearning and Digital Cultures Mooc (Massive Online Open Course) and it has – for me – been a great learning experience.
It was a chance to reflect on the day job but at one step removed rather than “How can I use technology to improve the learning experience at Bristol” it was more “What is technology doing to learning (and to humans), and is it a good thing”. Also as a Sci-fi fan it was enjoyable to engage with my interests in an academic setting
It was a “cMooc” with the c standing for connectivism as opposed to an xMooc, which is about providing information in a structured form to the students (the “best” definition of x I can find is x = instructivist – never let spelling get in the way of a good acronym). The connections were – for me – what made the course so engaging, the reflections of others on the course materials were incredibly rich and interesting (the course materials were also good).
At the end of the course I had submitted my digital artefact, obtained a “Statement of Accomplishment with Distinction” and (one of my personal goals) extended my personal learning network by over 50 useful people.
So are Moocs the end of University as we know it? I would have to say no, and there are a lot of reasons why not which I dont have space to go into here, so instead I will close with a brief example of what can be so special about studying at University.
I was working with Dr Tamar Hodos in their office when a student came in to pick up their essay and feedback – having checked with the student that it was ok if I was in the room, the academic went over the paper with the student discussing what was good, where improvements could be made etc, the conversation moved to the teaching and time spent in the lab (student suggested longer lab sessions, and they discussed the potential benefits of this). This was a really detailed learning experience that (provided the student does take the steps suggested) will make a real difference to the students study.
Now I do realise you cant scale that 1 to 1 detailed contact with an academic up to a 40,000 user mooc, and I think that is why sometimes traditional is best (and yes I did tell Dr Hodos how impressed I was).
Roger Gardner – Learning Technologist, Technology Enhanced Learning Team
I enrolled primarily to see what the MOOC experience might be like. On reflection I don’t think this was sufficient motivation to get me very far. After the first week, despite participating I found myself quite unengaged with the content and much of the discussion. So I am looking forward to the ALT Mooc (ocTEL) in a few weeks as I suspect the content of that might engage me more. To some extent I got what I wanted from the course, in that I had first hand experience of MOOC-ing and some of its challenges . I know that next time I need to allow a realistic amount of time to participate, not go on holiday for a week in the middle somewhere with very flaky Internet access, and try to identify and connect with some other participants with similar interests early on if possible. I never got round to the assessment, but started to write a limerick which expresses some (I suspect common) MOOC emotions. It’s on Soundcloud so please feel free to add your comments.
Roberta Perli – Learning Technologist, Technology Enhanced Learning Team
First, I decided to sign up for this this Mooc because I am very interested in online learning. In April last year I attended a 4 weeks online course in e-assessment run by Jisc which was just great, good size (about 30 people) and about the right length.
After reading about Moocs, xmoocs and cMoocs in our reading group during the summer I thought that the Mooc in digital cultures offered by Coursera would be a good opportunity to learn more about Moocs and this ‘innovative’? model of online education. I liked the pre-course activities and interactions with different social networks such as the facebook group, which continues to be fairly active! I think I got a lot out of the social network, interesting discussions, useful tips, helping people with their research, peer support with artifacts, sharing resources (e.g. list of tools), although I felt quite overwhelmed by the constant streams of information and interactions. I enjoyed the topic of some of the videos but I wasn’t sure about the format ‘four videos + core readings’ for the entire course.
All in all my first Mooc was an enjoyable experience and I think I will sign up to another Mooc in the future if I have have the time to devote to (it needs more than three hours) but one thing I felt was missing was more support in term of online learning strategies to help students engage with the student generated content and learn by interacting with their peers.