Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Short Mid-week Reflection: MOOCs, the Wild Wild West?

This is my first experience with taking a MOOC and learning more about them. There are certainly enough courses out there, and tons of information about them online. This seems to be exponentially growing faster than the time I have to read! I wonder how many of the sites I am furiously saving to Delicious I'll be able to return to. The scenery reminds me of the United States' westward expansion into new territories in the 19th century, and the wild wild west! So many routes, so many areas to develop, so many opportunities. Seems like anything is possible! 
And, in some cases, so little law :-)

I see many advantages to e-learning and MOOCs, but I also wonder if there are individuals that think taking a MOOC is a short cut to obtaining the same knowledge and skills they would get from a brick-and-mortar face-to-face course, with a little judicious blending (Will It Blend?). It seems to me you still only get out of it what you put into it, in a well designed course, no matter what the venue. 

I am very impressed by the experience, knowledge, and the ability to communicate of my fellow students that are actively participating, and by the two webinar guests we have had so far, Dr. Tony Bates and Dr. Oliver Dreon. The attendees even had ample opportunities of directly posing questions to outstanding experts in this field, not sure that would have been possible any other way. I had the feeling of "being there" in a real classroom during the webinars. A sense of place. I am only sorry that due to time zone differences some students were unable to attend in real time, but I think that viewing the recordings would still be a very valuable experience, and "almost there".

Now I just have to figure out which trails to take through the continental divide!


  1. Sounds like both webinars were really useful, Frank. Unfortunately I didn't attend because of time zone differences - I live in Austria - and am still waiting for the recordings to be linked to the community wall - soon hopefully. But I already got some good ideas from watching Tony Bates' 9 key points to quality onIine learning for the blended learning courses I teach - see red parts in

    1. Thanks Veronica, I'm only up to Step 3! But plan to go through the rest now. Good idea to use red to highlight your concerns. Right now feel a bit overwhelmed by all the content, blogs, etc out there. I want to take a drink, but it seems it's from a firehose! I guess it will all come together when I make it so :-)

  2. I totally agree, there is so much information out there that it is hard to process and synthesize it into 'take-home' pieces. As I start reading about topics, it can easily become overwhelming but then I notice a pattern starting to emerge - for example, in this week's readings, the themes seem to be (1) be present and active in courses (2) be responsive even outside of "normal" working hours and (3) the on-line instructor is more of a facilitator than the bricks-and-mortar instructor. I suppose that as I read more about the topics, it becomes less overwhelming because I can categorize the information into what I've already learned.

    Just my 2 cents (Canadian).

    1. Thanks Dawn, good idea, look for patterns and themes. Now I wonder whether we would find the same common ones, if they are not obvious, or are they projections of what we need or resonate with? Or an aha! connection. For example, I've been exposed so much to the idea of "guide on the side" that I might just take it for granted and not notice it after it's internalized. Thanks for your helpful feedback! A cent is better than a loonie :-)