January 28th, 2013
Tom Friedman writes in the New York Times about MOOCs, you know they’ve reached
the level of national conversation, not just in education circles but "out
do we, the eportfolio community, consider, evaluate, understand, or encompass
wrote an article about MOOCs and eportfolios a couple of weeks ago: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/01/16/the-taming-of-the-mooc.aspx
search for "MOOCs” and you will see dozens of articles about MOOCs. You
can do the same at the New York Times site – http://nytimes.com. Or at the Chronicle -- http://chronicle.com/section/Home/5/
are at the point where I felt I should register for a MOOC course. So, I
did. I am new to the course, but I have some reactions to the course
admit that I have been suspicious and nearly dismissive of MOOCs as "lectures
writ large.” So, I went into the registration and discovery process for
this particular MOOC, "An Introduction to the U. S. Food System,” taught from
Johns Hopkins, with doubt.
I was surprised at how easily I could find and sign up for this Coursera
course. My registration was surprisingly simple and quick. I got
email notifications and instructions. The home page interface for the
course is immediately usable.
was able to watch an introductory lecture with no glitches and good video
readings, so far, are riveting and astonishing. As always, I find a
well-designed course provides a library of readings that would be hard to come
by otherwise. Having an expert in the field tell me, "these are the
articles you need to read to understand the problems we will address in this
course,” is invaluable.
have, therefore, already become terrified by the food situation in the
have the option, and was encouraged, to join the Forum. Well, forums have
their problems: the number of new topics quickly grow and the
conversation is therefore fragmented down a whole number of cul-de-sacs.
Who is talking to whom? Sometimes, it is possible to track down an actual
discourse thread and join that particular one. But, no matter what, the
Forum for this course, with 12,000 students, is not only chaotic in
organization but overwhelming in number.
could probably study the forum and track down a few comments that interest me
and try to talk to those people. And, I may do that.
will need to take quizzes and stay on top of the lectures assiduously since the
course lasts a mere 6 weeks. It could end while I am still catching
up. If I pass all the quizzes and complete all requirements, I will get a
certificate of completion.
do people take this course? I can’t quote the forum directly without
permission from those who are posting, but I do see that many of the students
are already in a related field to the subject of the course. Some say
they hope to build on what they already know. Others say they may want to
enter a course of study related to this field. And others have a strong
agenda about sustainable food production and want to be heard. I was
reluctant to admit, although I did, that I eat meat.
far, I find the course much better than I expected. But, then, students are
often very positive in the few week or so of a course before real work
begins. Still, from a disinterested viewpoint, I am already forming
MOOCs are probably the real thing. The course is only a week or so into
the 6 weeks and I will be very interested to scan the comments as the course
moves along. But right now the course seems solid.
technology and access are at the point where the technology is invisible.
Everything worked easily and quickly. I did have to sign up for a free
subscription to a journal to get to one of the readings, but that was a
one-minute process. And the course information noted that I would have to
subscribe to this particular journal.
for those already familiar with the field of food productino, this format
provides a good learning opportunity. Or for those, like me, a serious
dilettante, er, renaissance man, it is equally valuable.
I would feel uncomfortable taking a course like this in a brick-and-mortar
classroom. I would seem out of place, a seasoned professor with a Ph.D.,
joining an introductory course. For me, then, the MOOC is ideal. MOOC
advocates claim that these kinds of courses open learning opportunities to
those who could not otherwise have any opportunities. It had not
occurred to me that I was among that number.
the lecture format comes under fire. "Is this the best we can do?,” asks
Cathy Davidson of HASTAC. I can in fact watch the lectures a number of
times, or parts of the lectures. I can take the quizzes a number of
times, using the quizzes as a learning opportunity – I hope they are telling me
what is important to understand from the readings.
generally, my strongest response to the "MOOC Mania” (Chronicle) is "this is
not the replacement for college, it is just one more learning opportunity in
the world of open learning.” We will not replace a predominant single
model of learning with another predominant single model of learning. We
are instead going from a near singularity to multiplicity. The burning
question is not "will MOOCs put anyone out of business," but
"how will MOOCs fit into our extant educational processes?"
are eportfolios in this? No where.
very blog is my own eportfolio entry about my MOOC experience. Why don’t
the students in my course have the opportunity to elect to pay for an
eportfolio, if they choose to do so, to add greatly to the value of this
experience? As I said in my Campus Technology article, the most obvious
component of the MOOC – the eportfolio – is missing. Coursera should
arrange to provide accounts through an existing eportfolio provider.
Students in the course could choose, themselves, if they wanted to purchase an
the extra overhead to build in an eportfolio option is not insignificant.
But I do hope to see some of the organizations providing MOOCs, including
universities and colleges, offering that option.
on this experience soon. Let me know what your own experience is.