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‘Bergfest’ – Interim results

June 8, 2012

from Edgar cards

We almost reached the middle  of #OPCO12, having covered Mobile apps, Tablets and now Game-based learning with Learning Analytics, Gesture-based computing and Internet of Things coming up next.

The first time I heard about MOOC was during my study. Stephen Downes and Georg Siemens are the two names related to Massive Open Online Courses. Wikipedia has an interesting articel about MOOC, including its history and Educause also offers a short description 7 Things you should know about MOOC.

I found the idea quite innovative, also I wondered how so many participants (1000 and more) can collaborate in one course. During my study I found 20 – 30 actively participating peers in one course quite overwhelming with all the incoming posts, not to talk about about 2000 participants. Hence, when I heard about the OPCO12 I enrolled immediately to find out first hand how it works.

Before I continue reporting about my experience so far, I want to thank the course team for organizing the course and for providing the regular interim results and supplying all the material like presentations, link list, etc.

So how is it to be part of a MOOC?

Well, like one of many, to be exact one out of 1440 (as of 2012/06/01). However, the first video conference was an indicator how much participants ‘actively’ participate in the course. All three video conference that I was able to take part so far hosted approximately about 150 attendees and those who contribute with blog posts or tweets are as well manageable.

At the beginning there was an initial contribution hype, which decreased to a standard measure. Observable are small surges at the beginning of each new topic which subside as the two weeks progress. That pattern is pretty similar to what I experienced during my study. An initial hype which decrease to after the course progress, with smaller interim highs, mainly due to an assignment 😉 and after about two third of a course the contribution normally touched bottom. Sometimes there was a final surge towards the end-of-course-assignment, but that was not always the case.

Jochen Robes wrote in the Weiterbildungsblog about MOOC in general and the behaviour of (lurking) participants in particular.

Comparing  the total number of signed in participants (about 1.400) with the number of those who contribute to the course blog it seems obvious that the number of ‘lurking participants’ is relative high. I was definitely a lurking participant in school, although that time wasn’t invented and my teachers definitely did not appreciate lurking participants, all that counted was active better proactive participation.

Fortunately that changed to an extend my tutor asked me to take a low profile, telling me not to dominate the forum too much. Well, it wasn’t my fault that the others contributed so less ;-).  As a student of the OU I learned to find online contribution really liberating. Sure, at first it was a little bit awkward to communicate with people you haven’t seen  in person, but I think I was mainly afraid that my English wasn’t good enough, but abandoned my concerns pretty fast. Online communication with tutors and peers was just to precious to make no use of it and felt less isolated.

Yet, the course structur of a MOOC differs from that of an online course. The most differing feature is the decentralized structure contrary to the relative centralized structure of an online course. Participants have to enroll and courses take place in a closed password protected environment, like a LMS (Learning management system).

A flexible structure  is according to Educause

  • ‘valuable because students can choose their level of participation and many will do so in an à la carte manner.’
  • ‘throws open the doors of a course and invites anyone to enter, resulting in a new learning dynamic, one that offers remarkable collaborative and conversational opportunities for students to gather and discuss the course content.’
  • ‘has the potential to alter the relationship between learner and instructor and between academe and the wider community by potentially providing a very large and diverse forum and meeting place for ideas.’

A MOOC offers indeed a remarkable opportunity to gather and discuss the course content. The course blog displays on a daily basis blogs post from different contributors, highlighting different views about the topic in question. It is interesting to contrast the different views with the own perspective. However, I miss somehow the discussion aspect, which is running short in a MOOC. Comments on each other blog posts are possible, but there is often no follow-up. Hence, there is a collection of blog post and tweets, but in my opinion no real discussion like I experienced it in the course forums during my study.  This alters indeed the relationship between learner and instructor, but as well between the learners. There is few ‘direct’ contact and feedback, except when someone comments on a post, or during the chat, resulting only  in a loose community. That’s what I miss most at the moment, the feeling of belonging, which will not really emerge. But probably it is only me and I do not network and collaborate in the intended way to be more effective 😕

Nevertheless, it’s a great experience so far and the plethora of information and links provided via blog post and tweets is amazing.

Thanks to all 🙂

From → #OPCO12

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