Thursday, 1 May 2014

My first MOOC experience

My experience of the Carpe Diem MOOC

I've been getting my first experience of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) over the past few weeks. Since MOOCs went mainstream around 2011 there has been a somewhat hysterical reaction in the media, with many commentators suggesting that MOOCs signaled the end of higher education as we know it.

MOOC Hysteria by CogDogBlog  Licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
I must confess that I initially viewed MOOCs with a degree of scepticism, both in terms of their educational value and on purely commercial grounds. However, earlier this year I became aware of the Carpe Dime MOOC which was being offered by Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia which sounded interesting. It was based on the Carpe Diem learning design process devised by Professor Gilly Salmon. It provided me with a great opportunity to learn more about something I was interested in, whilst also gaining experience of participating in a MOOC.

The MOOC took place over a six week period in March and April and typically required a commitment of around three hours per week. Over 1200 people around the world registered for the MOOC, and everyone was allocated to a group of between 25 and 30 participants. The delivery platform was a Blackboard open platform called CourseSites, and since I am used to working with Blackboard in my own institution I found the look and feel of the site very familiar.

The course was concerned primarily with the Carpe Diem Learning Design process, so the actual content of the course was kept to a minimum and the focus was on working collaboratively with other participants to go through the process.

Positive things I took from the experience

  • I learnt about Carpe Diem learning design and I think I will be able to apply aspects of this in my own practice. 
  • I was introduced to several different perspectives on learning design issues, as contributed by various other participants.
  • I gained additional experience of collaborating online, which highlighted several factors, both positive and negative
  • I made contact with several people from around the world who, i would like to think, I could contact again in the future.
  • I experienced at first hand what it was like to participate in a MOOC. This provided me with several ideas about how we could run such an initiative at my own institution.

Negative aspects

  • There seemed to be a very high drop-out or non-participation rate. I understand that this is fairly normal for MOOCs, but I would say that in my group of around 28 registered participants there were only around five or six who were active.
  • The low participation rate made it very difficult to establish working collaborations. This in turn had an impact on momentum in the group exercises. If you happened to find yourself allocated to a group where participation was very low, I suspect your experience of the MOOC would be far less positive than that of someone in a successful group. I wonder whether more thought needs to go into the arrangements for establishing groups at the start of the MOOC. 

Overall verdict 

My overall experience was undoubtedly positive. Badges were awarded for completion of the weekly activities, and a certificate of completion was issued to all participants who successfully completed all activities. 

The experience obviously didn't put me off MOOCs because I subsequently registered for the Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL) which has just begun this week, and I will write more about that in due course.


1 comment:

  1. I was in the same MOOC, and it was also my first experience at such. I was not familiar with blackboard and negotiating the platform was only real negative for me and all the others in my group. While very similar only 8 of our entire group of 28 ever showed an appearance, 5 were active contributors at some stage and only 1 finished, so congratulations on your perseverance. There were some real gems of understanding to be gained along the way and hope you gain just as much from the ocTEL