I’ve joined another MOOC. Thats nice . . . What’s a MOOC?
A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. A MOOC can accommodate a large number of individuals (thousands, in some cases), and they are open to anyone who wants to participate. The weekly plan, resources, live sessions and recordings are available for anyone to access online, and they are focused on a particular area of study. You don’t have to pay any fees, unless you want to gain a formal credit for the course through the supporting academic institution. I’ve just registered for a MOOC titled “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2012” (CCK12). Information about the course, including a more complete explanation of MOOCs, can be found on the course website. The hour-long live sessions for this 12-week course are scheduled for Thursdays at 8:00 pm (Eastern time). In preparation, I’ve watched the videos (one is embedded below) and am going through the readings that have been uploaded for week #1 and week #2.
Video: “What’s a MOOC?” Written and Narrated by Dave Cormier, video by Neal Gillis, CC-BY 2010
Why participate in a MOOC if you are not working towards a qualification and don’t need the credit? Well, you might be an educator investigating innovative approaches to learning, an administrator who wants to transform institutional structures, or a lifelong learner who is simply interested in the subject and who wishes to engage in conversations with other interested people. You can sample material and sessions that suit your particular interest and schedule, or you can immerse yourself by attending all the sessions, absorbing the resources, following discussions on Twitter, and writing, reading, and commenting on blog posts. You decide on the level of engagement that suits you. Since MOOCs are conducted entirely online, you are visible to the extent that you take part in the live sessions and post material (usually through a blog or Twitter feed). By adding a tag (a shortened version of the course name, e.g.: “#CCK12”) to published material, relevant comments and resources can be easily found, collected, and distributed in list form to course participants. The facilitators arrange for guest speakers and provide useful resources, but the connections that the MOOC model facilitates (connecting learners and resources, learners and facilitators, and learners and other learners) opens up channels and conversations that can take you to places that you never thought you would go, and the journey doesn’t need to stop when the course is over.
I’ve participated to varying degrees in a few MOOCs over the past year, and, for me, they have been well worth the time and effort. I’ve learned that what you gain from these courses is directly proportional to what you contribute. It’s a bit like a face-to-face conversation – if you say little or nothing, you are less likely to feel present or engaged, and what you hear is less likely to seem relavent or interesting.
If you think you might be interested, I suggest that you simply register for one and give it a try. The facilitators (and more experienced participants) are patient and helpful. You will find that your presence, and your contributions, will be appreciated. As well as the “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2012” MOOC, there are others that may interest you. Here are a few that I’ve discovered:
#EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education (finished at end of 2011, but will likely be run again in 2012). This course may not be “Massive”, but it is certainly “Open”.
#CMC11: Creativity and Multicultural Communication (finished at the end of 2011, likely to continue in some form; smaller “class” than the other Open courses I took part in).
I had plans to finish several draft posts about my experience in these MOOCs, but I had trouble pulling myself out of conversations that were taking part in other blogs and in various other nooks and crannies online where people met. Hopefully, I’ll do better with #CCK12.