As the count down continues to our Carpe Diem MOOC, (#CDMOOC) starting on the 10th of March (4 days to go), we continue our behind the scenes conversation with our dedicated MOOC team. We now hear from Ben Mackenzie, Director of Academic Operations here at the Learning Transformations unit, and Project and Communications Manager of the CDMOOC. Great to hear the dissemination experience of the CDMOOC and we thank Ben for his long hours and unwavering dedication, the MOOC has benefited from his passion and insight.
Director, Academic Operations
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.
Ben is Director, Academic Operations, Learning Transformations Unit at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. He has been responsible for partner operations and academic engagement to support the establishment of Swinburne Online as a joint-venture company of Swinburne and SEEK Ltd since May 2011. Between 2006 and 2011 he held the positions of Director, International Partnerships, and Director, Swinburne International and National Recruitment, at Swinburne. Prior to joining Swinburne, Ben held senior business development and marketing roles at Monash International and within the Victorian Government’s Department of Education. He has more than ten year’s work experience in Australia’s international education industry, which builds on previous roles and responsibilities in the commercialisation and marketing of education products and services. Ben completed his postgraduate research at RMIT University, undertaking an action research project evaluating the application of new technology in education settings.
Communicating a MOOC
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship to the original face to face version of Carpe Diem's
During the last three years my main role has been to support the establishment of Swinburne Online, Swinburne’s joint venture with SEEK. My responsibility has been to facilitate the development and implementation of academic operations to enable academic collaboration between Swinburne University and Swinburne Online as a new partner and start-up venture.
We confronted a number of challenges, including ... how do you successfully adapt traditional on campus courses for delivery online … how do you take a traditional ‘lecture’ based approach into a more social constructivist approach for online learning … and how do we ensure the tacit knowledge that often underpins the design and academic delivery of on campus courses is captured and embedded in the online student experience?
Swinburne was familiar with Gilly’s work and I participated in a couple of Carpe Diem workshops. The Carpe Diem process lends itself to adapting courses for online delivery. As a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, it enables the content expert or academic staff member most familiar with the course, to work with specialist learning designers, education technologists, and students who act as reality-checkers. In doing so the process can integrate the application of contemporary learning technologies, academic expertise and student engagement into the learning experience.
The Carpe Diem process underpins the collaborative approach we now use for the adaption of courses for delivery online, with feedback from academic staff being overwhelming positive.
2. What is your role in the CDMOOC team?
I work as part of Gilly’s Learning Transformation’s Unit at Swinburne University. My role in the CDMOOC team has been to provide support for the project development and communications for the course.
3. What part of this role are you enjoying the most?
I particularly enjoy the opportunity to communicate about a process that I have seen work successfully. It’s not hard to talk about something you believe in! And even though this is the first time we have attempted to deliver the Carpe Diem process via a MOOC, its great to think that more people will have the opportunity to learn about this approach.
4. What has surprised you the most about creating this MOOC (Good/Bad)?
On the positive side, the most surprising thing to me has been the varied reasons for people to participate in the course. Some participants are looking forward to expanding their professional networks and identifying like-minded colleagues, while others are wanting to simply focus on developing their own course. A number of academic staff have talked to me about being overwhelmed by expectations to keep up with the ever changing new technologies. They see Carpe Diem as offering an efficient and structured way of integrating new technologies into their courses, without them having to learn and develop skills in the use and application of a wide variety of technologies. On the negative side, I was surprised to find that not all browsers are equal and that my CourseSites worked better with Chrome and Firefox compared to Internet Explorer. I hope the delegates heed our advice on this.
5. If participants could only take ONE thing away from them experiencing this MOOC, what would you hope that would be?
I hope they see Carpe Diem as a collaborative process for learning design that stimulates creativity and innovation in teaching and learning. I hope that we all reflect on the reliance of education institutions on traditional approaches to learning design, and we are stimulated to explore, takes risks and create engaging teaching and learning experiences for students.
6. What is your perception of the impact that MOOCs could have, or are having, on the future of Higher Education?
I love the fact that the hype around MOOCs has raised the profile of learning and teaching in higher education institutions. It has stimulated broader, industry conversations about the future of education, and for some, renewed hope in the promise of education to empower all members of the community by proving access to knowledge. I think the rapid development of MOOCs has opened our imagination to new possibilities in the application of new technology to the development of education. It’s exciting. I am not sure about the longer term future, but I am seeing some brilliant innovations accompanying the development of MOOCs.
7. What advice would you like to give the Participants of this MOOC?
Try different browsers and be open to new ideas, be creative and enjoy!
Thanks for visiting everyone. How has the MOOC communication process being for you in the lead up to the launch date? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and free to share this post on your networks to those you think would be interested and we will see you all on March 10th!