So I’ve signed up for a MOOC (I’m still undecided at which point I’ll start decapitalising that acronym). Having thought for a while now that I should at least attempt a mooc (turns out that point is now) before whinging about the genre at large, since if there’s one thing that irks me it’s people either complaining about or advocating for something they haven’t experienced (conversations around games-based learning by people who refuse to game themselves, for instance). Now I am well aware there are moocs and then there are moocs (cMOOC/xMOOC distinction etc but I have very little patience for adjectival lettering these days), and for a couple of years now I’ve had half an eye on what, to me, are proper moocs – the #ds106s and #change11s of the world. Since I have no particular desire to point criticism in that direction it might seem a little misguided that the mooc I’ve signed up for is #cfhe12, a Siemens/Downes offering. However, I did spend some time last week trawling the likes of Coursera and I just couldn’t do it. Most of the courses had descriptions like this one:
The class consists of 1 to 2 hours of lecture each week, which are made up of videos that are generally shorter than 10 minutes each. Each video contains integrated quiz questions. There are also weekly standalone exercises that are not part of the video lectures and a (non-optional) final exam.
I’ve had enough lecture/quiz/exam/essay courses to last a lifetime, and I can’t bring myself to suffer another one just for the sake of confirming what I already suspect about mainstream moocs. End of last week I came across #cfhe12 via the twitterverse, which seemed a much better fit for how I do things, so here we are.
I feel like I should be up-front about my motivations for doing this, which are equal parts curiosity and street cred. I don’t intend to participate beyond dipping in and out and discussing the odd thing here and there with a bunch of people whose opinions I value, which conveniently is exactly the type of participation suggested. This is in stark contrast to most mainstream moocs which appear to be desperately asserting themselves as ‘traditional courses’ and hence talking about things like ‘attrition’. It strikes me that if you are going to take something that conceptually doesn’t scale well (traditional edu) and try and stick an M on it (‘massification’ is another trendy that’s coined itself lately and which also irks me to no end), you really have no room to complain about the M also applying itself to attrition rates.
Anyway. I’ve had some mixed feelings about #cfhe12 thus far. I like the deconstructed, decentralised, DIY approach, the fact that many of the readings are blog posts and media articles (cf journal articles) and the fact that several of my Aus HE peers are also taking the course. I was not so enamoured with the registration process, site navigation etc although this seems to be sorting itself out now. I was pleased to see at least one member of senior executive from Aus HE enrolled to participate (@drpievann). I’m currently debating whether to get involved with the introductions discussion board – I’m never convinced that a ‘hi my name is’ is actually a better snapshot of a person than you can get from trawling their Twitter feed or blog, and threaded discussion forums, regardless of LMS, universally suck for that kind of thing. I’d rather meet someone out in their own space and converse with them that way.
So – watch this space, or don’t. I have no idea if or how #cfhe12 will fly for me but there’s one way to find out.