MOOCs and personal learning

e/merge Africa: Developing World MOOCs – I posted…

I have participated in many MOOCs since before the name MOOC existed. Even in this discussion, people are talking about “dropping out” – negative, failure to comply with rules and requirements, .. and yet they found the learning experience personally interesting and informative on many levels. Perhaps this is just part of a natural process of growth for using MOOCs for teaching and learning.

Some MOOCs are “courses” – grades, required submissions to move on to the next module in the content. No peeking – you can’t see the rest of the course until you complete each module in the time permitted. Not very friendly, and certainly didn’t allow for student-directed learning. These are more prescriptive than traditional courses. Just proves you can make bad teaching practices worse with technology.

On the other hand, some MOOCs are so unstructured and so massive as to be totally confusing. Although these can be very disorienting, some really interesting ideas and discussions can and do emerge. If tools are provided to help the participants select information resources and process “conversations” and contributions, these too can be great guided highly self-directed personal learning experiences.

MOOC covers a broad spectrum of technologies, teaching practices and personal learning experiences. What are the learning outcomes? Who are the intended participants? What are the range of levels of experience with online teaching and learning?


A conference is a good model.

There is also an important place for MOOCs that need to reach under-served learners who have internet access. Providing structure and direction is important, especially if these folks are new to online learning. However, this is going to be different than simply making the content and assignments of an on-campus course available online, declaring that MOOCs will change the face of education, and then being surprised when the completion rate is low, as reported in the higher-education media.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s