Learning from #edcmoocstudents

Over the past 15 years, I have been researching student experience and use of language through being a student: in a new subject area (first mechanical engineering, then digital education); in a new mode (fully online); and on a new scale (a MOOC).

It’s hard to get published in reputable academic journals on this topic, probably because it seems too subjective.  One anonymous reviewer wrote: ‘Can staff/researchers ever really become students in any meaningful sense?’  My response to that question is: ‘Yes, they can, and indeed it would probably help their practice.’  I’d even say that – in a very meaningful sense – researchers should never stop being students.

Of course there is a danger in assuming that my own student experience is generalisable: that would be foolish.  But being a student provides insights on processes of learning as they happen – and before they become ‘fossilised’ as Vygotsky wrote in Mind in Society (page 64).  Many of our EDCMOOC students are teachers who are doing the MOOC to find out what it is like to be a student on one.  (Some teachers are auditing the MOOC – also useful, but not the same as being an active student.)  Being a student provides a great opportunity to see first hand not only how other teachers design a MOOC but also how many different students respond to it and how meanings are jointly constructed. And at the time that it happens.  Blogs are great for recording these moments; we forget them so easily once we’ve passed from not-knowing to knowing.

We all bring resources and repertoires from previous experiences: no student comes to a course with a blank slate.  And nowhere is this more obvious than on the EDCMOOC.  Students of all kinds (not only teachers) are sharing insights, aha moments, experiences, techniques, software, and many other resources.

This sharing is important for peer support; teachers also learn from it. This always happens in a course; every time I mark an excellent assignment I increase my own knowledge and teaching repertoire in some way.  It often happens with less than excellent assignments too.  Here, it is happening on a huge scale.  I’ve lost count of the new ideas stimulated by students I’ve had over the past four weeks.  I only hope some of them stay in my head long enough for me to do something with them.

All the recent posts in ‘Teaching E-learning and Digital Cultures’ show that our whole team has been enriched by what the students have brought to EDCMOOC.  We’re learning too.

Christine Sinclair


6 thoughts on “Learning from #edcmoocstudents

  1. Hi Christine

    Thanks for this post. I’m certainly learning lots from my recent MOOC -tivity. Lots about being a student in a massive course, and most importantly for me about have the confidence to taking control over my learning. In these massive courses it is all to easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of activity. Whilst on the one hand this can be incredibly motivating and stimulating it can also be just as isolating if you feel you’re a just a tiny voice in a huge crowd. So I’m having to learn to let go and concentrate on what I can do, and what makes sense for me. The good thing about #edcmooc is that is allows you the freedom to do just that. With other more prescriptive courses I suspect that isn’t the case.


  2. Great points, Christine! As both a faculty and faculty developer, I have found this MOOC stimulating. Yet, last night as I was interacting face-to-face with a room full of doctoral students, they were exhibiting fear at their future learning environment…as open, social, and participatory breaks all the mental models they have of “faculty”. I really appreciate how you and your team have been so open about this grand experiment!

  3. yes me too Britt, as I just said in reply to your previous post Christine – I think the fact that you are operating as a teaching team is such a smart move, and I hope to see a lot more of this approach in higher ed soon, it is for sure the best way to manage the complexity of what has to be done and thought through, in any course, but especially in a large and diverse one like this

  4. Thanks so much for these comments all of you. We may together be finding antidotes to some dominant narratives about education: the combination of students whose ‘tiny voices’ are having a big impact (how many more visitors to your excellent blog now Sheila?) and teachers telling it like it is.

  5. Pingback: On how #edcmooc did a cmooc on Coursera | Doing by Learning (and vice versa)

  6. Thanks to you Christine, and Sian, Hamish, Jen, and Jeremy for such a well structured, engaging, and thought provoking course. I thought you pitched it just right. And your individual touches as a team of tutors was really appreciated, This blog, the Google Hangouts you ran, and the general care & attention you took over answering & responding to student’s concerns & feedback was much valued.

    Thank you,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s