Friday, September 21, 2012

MyMooc is NoMOOC

MOOC As regular readers know, I've been thinking a lot about MOOCs over the past few months. Not only have I participated in several (with more to come), but I've thought (a lot) about running my own.

I have a lot of knowledge in the field of microbiology. I blog about microbiology and thousands of people read what I write (although these days, most of them are already microbiologists or at least biologists, from undergraduate level to professors). I've been thinking of running a MOOC introducing people to the basics of microbiology - not the sort of thing you'd get on a degree course, but real starter for 10 stuff for people who are interested but know nothing.

I know how to do it, using free technology which is indefinitely scalable, I'd use the Google platform. The overall model would be similar to the Google Search MOOC.

But should I? I've struggled with the rationale. Should I cast the bread upon the water without knowing what will happen? I'm not trying to promote my institution or sell anything. There is all the hassle and potential disaster of a public facing enterprise (ethics, etc). While I could easily end up "teaching" more people than I've taught in my entire university career, I'm unlikely to attract enough people to make it truly Massive. Looking at the participation and dropout numbers from Udacity and Coursera, that means peer support will be lacking, so it feels unlikely to be successful. Pretty much everything I do online is an OER, and yet the take-up is woeful, relatively speaking, and the interactions superficial. Is that the rationale for running a MOOC, the next stage in the evolution of learning? For the past few years I have believed in loosely-coupled micro-content, what does that say about MOOCs?

External funding. What if I could get a small grant to run this project - would that change the reasons to do it/not to do it? Should my pedagogy be driven by funding? For a while, I thought yes - learning by doing and all that. But now, having participated in more MOOCs than you can shake a stick at, I don't think so (although I'd still like to do me one of them hippes cMOOCs - if I could ever find the time).

It's still all about Big and Little OERs. MOOCs are better than repositories but they're still Big OER - you can't own a MOOC, you can only run one. I'm out.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think you're right. I keep getting asked the 'why' question. In my case we're creating a course anyway, and my part is about open education, so it has a logic to it (indeed it would seem strange not to). Other reasons would be to experiment in a way you couldn't with a formal course, or for outreach, or for brand (from an institutional perspective). Another good reason is like with Phonar to give students benefits. I also think it's a good thing to do to just get you thinking/reflecting in a different way as an educator. I bet you wouldn't devise an open course in the same way as a closed one. Or just to see what it's like. Increasingly we'll probably add 'for cash' to this list. But if none of these apply then just doing it for the sake of it probably isn't right.