This week I had to try to pull together a position, a wide view, of what’s been happening on the EDC MOOC, in order to present at a symposium on ‘Disrupting Higher Education’ in Dublin (blogged here by Eoin O’Dell). It was hard. In the end, the best way I could find to do it, was by piecing together fragments, snippets from the work of the teaching team and of the participants, to build a picture of what we’ve achieved over the last few weeks, and the questions which remain unanswered. The Prezi I made of this is viewable here.
I’d like to summarise roughly what I see as being the gains we’ve made, and what I was trying to convey in this presentation. First, we’ve made a start on an important project: we’ve created a Coursera MOOC with a particular ethos and design, and we now have some data to work with in thinking about how we refine that, and whether our own strand of higher education has a future – disrupted or otherwise – with this kind of MOOC pedagogy.
We’ve also seen that the personal learning networks and communities being formed for some participants through the MOOC have been intense, enriching and deeply motivating. That is something of great value. The challenge here, of course, is in considering what happens to the participants who wanted networks, but have not been able to make them, or have not found them. As Jeremy said in his post this week, we can’t make a MOOC work for everyone, not at this scale. But we still have a responsibility to consider what participation and inclusion means in a teaching event like this, and do our best to make these things happen for as high a proportion of learners as we can.
Then, we’ve seen this great burst of multimodal creativity, innovation, sharing and making, as Jen highlighted in her post. For me this is a major achievement: if we can begin to see the MOOC as a (relatively) low-stakes space where experiments in representation and scholarly ‘writing’ can be nurtured, that will be a major gain and potentially a big contribution to the debate around digital academic literacy.
For me one of the biggest and most difficult questions remaining is how we think about the nature and value of ‘teacherliness’ online, where we are working in courses in which we started with a 0.0001 teacher:student ratio (thanks Hamish Macleod! Christine blogged about this too). How do we navigate a pathway somewhere between what seem to be the two main options for the MOOC teacher currently: celebrity professor or automaton? The subject of another blog post perhaps.