Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What MOOCs might have been...................

Well, I have not used my blog for a long time. A new job and sitting back to see how the commercialization storm that took MOOCs by surprise would unfold were my excuses. I have decided that I would not be true to my own principles and ideas of education and learning that involve active participation and human interaction if I would not do exactly that, participate and interact.

How did my change of heart come about? This morning a final draft student thesis landed in my inbox. It was a total surprise, it included many of my own thoughts, advanced on some of those thoughts, spun my own data around and it made me realize that what is at the heart of the original MOOC  development, connecting and sharing with other human beings, is as valid today as it was when I took part in one of the first MOOCs as a student on 2008. That experience blew my mind away as it lifted my educational experience to a global level and involved sharing with people who I considered experts and forward thinkers in the field. It flattened the hierarchy of power in educational institutions with the click of the button.  That is for me the essence of the MOOC!

I can no longer be quiet and sit back. It is clear that the highjack of the MOOC concept by some has opened up access to learning for some (especially already educated people). It is debatable if the xMOOC commercial development has done and will do anything to advance the essence of the original MOOC development: opening up access to education and learning for ALL; sharing of the learning experience and resources between young and old, advanced technology users and experts in the field and novices; advancing models of learning that take advantage of emerging technologies; creating technologies that will enhance this non-hierarchical connectivist learning; creating learning and knowledge commons structures in society, to name a few issues, but we will see.

My first reaction when xMOOCs appeared that used the same old, same old, top-down course (infra-)structure that we were used to from institutions was: how dare they distort something really good to something pretty mondane, just at a large scale, and then to make money out of it? Of course it is because they could. That's the beauty of humans with technology in their hands, we can create, build on something else and make it into what we want it to be.

I still wish they had called it something else, or perhaps the original MOOC should not have been called a MOOC, but a COOL (Connectivist Open Online Learning) event.

Anyway, Anna, you have made my day and guided me back to the origin of MOOCs of connecting, creating and sharing. Thanks!

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