These two very early questions from the #edcmooc discussion board seem to be related. There is clearly already a Coursera (or perhaps an xMOOC?) structure and aesthetic which means that the expectation is for these courses to be designed around video lectures. Because ours isn’t, it’s proving difficult for some experienced MOOC participants to “read” the presence of the teachers.
This issue – of online teacher presence – is one that has interested me for a number of years (see this paper that Hamish and I wrote for one take on this). Most recently, Amy Collier and I have been having regular conversations about all kinds of MOOC and online education type topics, and we keep returning to the question of online course design, and the way in which this does (and doesn’t) represent the metaphorical body of the online teacher. The way the teacher is usually represented in the xMOOC seems to be quite specific, and rather constrained (to the size of a video window, really). The teacher’s role, in my view, includes the teacher’s frustrations, discoveries and adventures in shaping curriculum, and in making sometimes rather incalcitrant VLE platforms (in which I’d include Coursera) express their “philosophy and belief in action“. But this may not be a widely shared understanding of the teacher in the MOOC.
A number of participants have commented on the networked, web-friendly and distributed nature of this MOOC, and are seeing this as a strength of our approach. I agree, and I am extremely impressed with the creativity and generosity emerging from the #edcmooc network. So, I wonder: in what ways might the activity of the network be understood as teaching? To consider that, we need to consider the history of the MOOC and its roots in connectivist approaches which locate learning in the network. So, is there teaching in the network, too? What is it that the network is teaching?