A Meta-MOOC


The past month, I have thinking about and planning to offer a MOOC myself. I might do it in collaboration with a group such as NJEDge.Net. I don't know how "massive" it will be. And I am not sure that it will be a "course" in the traditional sense. But it will be open and online. With all the talk about MOOCs lately, there still seems to be a need to educate educators about MOOCs. Meta-MOOC courses might be the answer,

Over the summer, several hundred educators participated in a free meta-MOOC (nicknamed the "MOOC MOOC") to discuss pedagogical and institutional issues. It was offered by Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal about teaching and technology. The class only ran for six days, but it had more than 500 participants and 2,000 lurkers.

One topic on MOOCs under consideration was the changing modes of pedagogy. They have shared their original Google Doc publically on the web.
Bonnie Stewart notes that massive open courses (not necessarily online) are not a new concept and points to Michel Foucault's 1970s courses that were free and open to everyone. Maybe even Socrates, who reportedly refused payment for his instruction, was a fan of open education. But the acronym MOOC for Massive Open Online Course is supposed to have come from a course called
“Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” taught by Stephen Downes.

Part of the theory that underpins that particular course is fostering autonomous and self-regulated learners.

At the core of the MOOCs that I’ve been involved with is a power question: what can learners do for themselves with digital tools and networks? MOOCs foster not only a particular type of knowledge in a particular area of inquiry; they also foster a self-regulated, motivated, and autonomous learner. When an instructor does for learners what learners should do for themselves, the learning experience is incomplete. Developing capacity for learning and the mindsets needed to be successful learners is a central attribute of our MOOCs. We are not only concerned with the epistemological development of learners (knowing stuff) – we target ontological development (being a certain type of person) as well.

I read a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which Cathy Davidson, a professor at Duke University said that "The knee-jerk reaction is to say that MOOC's are going to save us." My own comment online was that from what I have heard from my higher education peers is that the "knee-jerk reaction" has been that MOOCs will destroy higher ed - or at least destroy the value of a traditional degree.

That MOOC MOOC group was concerned with issues such as how universities can make money from MOOCs (for example, charging students for credentials or selling corporate recruiters lists of top-performing students), privacy concerns, cheating, plagiarism on assignments, how to grade many thousands of papers (considering that many of them may be non-native speakers of English) and high dropout rates.

If that short list sounds familiar, it is because most of them have been issues in small, not open, online courses for decades.


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