You would have had to have been on Mars in the last year or two not to have spotted the interest around MOOCS and in particular the puzzlement Mantra- ‘why bother?’
As many of you probably know, I lead the Learning Transformations Unit at Swinburne University of Technology. We are a pretty small team with a big agenda. So how we spend our time, expertise and effort requires serious choice. This time, we’ve chosen to offer a MOOC outside of the regular big providers. Swinburne has had good, supportive and happy experiences around Open2Study so added to the ‘why a MOOC’ for us, has also been’ ‘Why do it differently’? So I decided to address this here.
Our new brand new sparkling MOOC is about Carpe Diem learning design. Carpe Diem is a framework and process for rapid, collaborative learning design for online or blended courses. Carpe Diem uses agile project development combined with easy to adopt and apply pedagogical frameworks (e-tivities.com and e-Tivities HERE). It’s been popular for those wanting to do quick and effective learning design but has also promoted changes in thinking about online pedagogy. It also provides practical pointers to ways forward for more traditional education and educators.
It’s something I’ve been working on for many years, and has been adopted with some joy and impact by others around the world. Closer to home, Swinburne Online’s learning development is heavily based on Carpe Diem. We are scaling up the deployment across Swinburne’s campus based courses too.
So back to ‘why a MOOC?’ and why this one and this way? So many people have asked me.
Of course I know that there is not yet a serious and viable business model...that such things are at best ‘evolving’. So that’s not it. It could be a kind of brand- extension ‘freemium’ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium) approach wrapped up in appetizers for our best research, to enhance our reputation or to provide open outreach. But the Open2Study MOOCs help us with that already. It could be pure experimentation, with gamification, credit from an open model, securing of fresh big data or social networking. Or it could be a service to alumni or other relationship building strategies. On the rare occasion I raise my head from my keyboard, I might nod to those.
But, actually, here are our reasons: we wished to tap into the new energy around MOOCS but do something a little different and for other reasons.
First, our audience is educators, academics, information specialists and learning technologists who are interested in designing the future for learning, quickly easily and effectively. Do you think that’s impossible? We don’t. Who wouldn’t wish to reach out with a ‘killer app’ that might finally tip the balance to more accessible, acceptable, viable, joyful and impactful learning? Who wouldn’t want the most capable and intelligent people on the planet, who have chosen to use their talents in education, to try out something and give feedback to make it better. That alone is reason enough – isn’t it?
Second, I’ve been working in massive open courses for much of my career. I learnt my craft and did much of my early research at the UK’s Open University. It’s wonderful that so many institutions and great teachers are now addressing the new big opportunities for learners in the digital era. More power to them, I say! But folks, please don’t re-invent the wheel. We already know that traditional lecture approaches ‘transferred’ to the online environment don’t result in retention and completion of students or even a great learning experience. Carpe Diem demonstrates some of what we already know about successful digital student-centred pedagogy. The MOOC is a way for us to share it. The wheels haven’t fallen off so assume they are good and start by powering up your vehicle.
Third, just suppose MOOCs really do turn out to be constructively disruptive, after all. There are two main ways of transforming learning. One is through changing academic and teaching practice; the other is through improving the design and deployment of the online environment to support learning. By the way, we won’t rewrite the future for learning by doing face-to-face workshops, which is still the dominate practice for professional development in universities across the world (See Journal Articles Here). We’ve chosen to use CourseSites based on the Blackboard LMS for this MOOC and develop and support it in-house. We want to form groups, as a model and to encourage networking and knowledge construction. We are familiar the Blackboard environment and feel we can enable cohorts working together. None of the other MOOC platforms offered us this. The Carpe Diem MOOC gives staff the opportunity to experience the online environment for themselves and the tools to transform their practice, nothing less, nothing more; and that’s about fitness for purpose!! So, those are the reasons that we have chosen to do this MOOC, in this way.
For an indepth Q and A specifically around our reasons for doing this MOOC (Including answering questions like why we chose Blackboard!), feel free to view my recent video interview with Rober McGuire from MOOC News and Reviews here:
The Carpe Diem MOOC starts on the 10th March
Thanks for stopping by, see you all online!