Tag Archives: #eduMOOC

getting organized in #eduMOOC

Started #eduMOOC this morning. Intros are over; the weekly schedule is on google; most likely many of the discussions will be going on at google; a few people have posted to their blogs (advice on getting organized and learning in a MOOC, mainly); at least one participant has set up an iEtherPad, and a question has been posted to Quora. So far, participants and administrators are starting and looking for topics, posting their interests, and linking to resources. People are looking for others of the same interests. And getting the fire hose under control. Similar to this.

I find Ray’s reflections on getting eduMOOC set up interesting. Ray had concerns similar to mine about getting the online spaces organized so participants could find each other – only to see that participants (Wayne Macintosh at the OER university) started to set up study groups (should be interest groups rather than study) on their own. Ray is also posting about set up strategies and considerations balancing access, experience, and interests here. These posts are interesting for what they reveal about getting a MOOC organized. I played out the same concerns when I was setting up the MOOC for Weblogs and Wikis, and while I settled most of them before I started, I had to re-fit them a couple of times as it became clear what students did not know about the web.

Ray’s comments are also interesting in what they reveal about eduMOOCs pedagogy. The administrators are really working at getting a shared space ready for participants, suggesting that eduMOOC is coming more from a centralized learning supply house pedagogy rather than a PLE-distributed knowledge pedagogy, as in #PLENK2010. eduMOOC seems to leam more towards social constructionism / constructivism than connectivism. Not that that’s a problem, and not that the designed pedagogy of a MOOC confines participants to that pedagogy. One of the beauties of a MOOC (and part of the reason The MOOC is Not an Answer) is that participants can must follow their own pedagogy to an extent.

But after reviewing materials this morning, I signed up with the OERu Planning Group. I have an interest in OER, but what attracted me to this group was that Wayne had set up a place for creating some shared goals and posted some common actives to get things started. Looks like participants will be posting to their own spaces, while the planning group provides a filter and aggregator. And the aggregator is what’s important now.

getting past the lms

A good example of what PLEs and MOOCs seek to overcome / bypass / sidestep/ kick sand in the face of: LMS policy. This is a good example from U Toronto. They publish their LMS policy in the guise of a FAQ. An example:

What are the advantages of using the Institutional LMS as a foundation or primary environment for online learning?

Consistency, Security, Accountability and Sustainability 
The Office of the Vice-President and Provost has emphasized the value of consistency of online learning infrastructure in order to ensure that the experience of both faculty and student is of high quality, to make certain that learning systems are robust, secure and sustainable and also to facilitate most effective use of available human and physical resources to support online learning.  Just as the university takes fiscal responsibility seriously, it must also take responsibility for the integrity of IT systems and security of data as an underpinning to online learning activities and our commitment to our students.

Student Experience
The student learning experience within technology-enhanced environments is a key consideration and coherence and reliability of online systems is paramount. Students may be disadvantaged if they are required to learn how to use and navigate multiple systems. The university provides a robust, fully supported centralized Learning Management System (LMS) and anticipates that divisions and departments will take advantage of that system to provide a consistent portal entry point and common interface for students.

The emphasis in both the question and response is not on learning but on managing, and managing of courses and teachers by the Provost rather than managing the students by the teacher. Who asks this question? Management. A teacher would ask, What advantages for teaching and  learning does your LMS make possible that other ways of working do not? A more pointed teacher would ask, What alternatives to Blackboard does this institution support?

And that question is addressed under FAQ #4: If a faculty member wishes to use Web 2.0 and/or Cloud-based Technologies to enhance a course, what steps can be taken to reduce risk and ensure the security of student data?

In FAQ #4, the institution’s interest clearly dominates, and the attitude is clearly off-putting. The answer is not focused on learning or teaching, but on risk, and cast not in a shared language but one of legalities:

Full reliance on a third party service that is not supported by the institution or division, nor through an contract relationship will involve a high level of risk and is not recommended as a primary learning environment, in particular for fully online courses. However, if faculty members wish to take advantage of the benefits of Web 2.0 or Cloud-based technologies as an adjunct activity to enhance a course they should comply with the following directives to reduce the risk in use of third party systems:

The question assumes the LMS will still be the primary technology, the other options – which may be more pedagogically sound and even easier to use and manage are not even supplemental but “adjunct”, a word heavily loaded in the academic world. The answers, of course, is pure commonsense, but cast in legalese, as is the paragraph above, warn faculty off, while side-stepping some valuable information: That having students post their work in open environments is not considered a FERPA violation – a mention made in the Educause source linked to on the page:

Content created by students when using such tools to fulfill course requirements (e.g., creating blogs on WordPress, posting videos to YouTube) should not be considered “student education records” under FERPA. However, copies of such records that are maintained by instructors in their own filesdo constitute FERPA-protected “student education records.”

Even while the FAQ links to this information, it’s left out of the administration’s response. That makes it a curious omission.

Two more observations on language that is shaped to keep teachers in line. A line from question #1 above:

Students may be disadvantaged if they are required to learn how to use and navigate multiple systems.

This is a common management-level gesture at altruism. I’ve never seen evidence of this, but given how it’s phrased (may, or may not; and “be disadvantaged” – a phrasing the invokes an unnamed handicap and places students in a ghetto), it’s not a matter of evidence. A response: It might take an hour to adjust, but learning multiple systems are to students’ advantage, not their disadvantage.

And a line from question #4 concerning opt out:

Should students choose not to participate in such an external environment a viable alternative assignment or activity must be available to them.

This is based on the claim that “Students cannot be compelled to create accounts on non-university systems or with non-university services” so they are to be given an opt out. Not sure why the administration wants to push an opt out rather than suggest that students who don’t want to engage in web 2.0 stuff take another section of the course. Surely the administration is want to offer students a choice. Surely. But the underlying comment for the faculty member is “You can’t force them to do this, so be prepared for more work!”

What would be helpful in this FAQ is the voice of an administration willing to support faculty and students in their learning rather than coerce faculty – and students who apparently can be compelled to create accounts on university systems – into the LMS. Administration has a good rhetorical opportunity here, but they miss it.

It looks like I’m singling out U Toronto, but this bogus FAQ fell in my lap this morning when I was cruising Diigo. Plenty of institutions are using the same arguments to keep teachers in the LMS. (Fewer are likely using a FAQ as a guise, but appropriating the FAQ for policy is becoming common. It’s being used locally to shape and control the arguments concerning banning tobacco on a state campus.)

But back to MOOCs in general and eduMOOC specifically, perhaps the limiting dimension of teaching and learning enforced by an enforced LMS is one of the problems that MOOCs might address – if they become more accepted by the institutions. The embedded LMS is certainly one of the barriers they are going to have to overcome.


eduMOOC: (maybe) Online Learning Today… #eduMOOC

Gigi and Vivienne at Beaver Auction

eduMOOC is going to be one big MOOC. Looks like press The Chronicle brought in a new wave of registrants:

eduMOOC: Online Learning Today… and Tomorrow: “Enrollment Update! We are elated to see enormous interest in this topic!  Since the Monday morning announcement of the MOOC, we  have  enrolled more than 1,300 participants from more than three dozen countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas; still no one has identified as themselves from Antarctica, but we remain hopeful!  Those participating are from colleges, universities, community colleges, libraries, school systems, educational association, and many other entities. The Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus Blog has noted this MOOC, asking the question: What happens when you invite the whole world to join an online class? This is going to be a grand MOOC that will only improve with an expanded diversity of views and perspectives from around the world.  “

I’m not quite sure what the plans are letting the participants distribute themselves, or how the admins are going to handle that. As of today, the course looks more like a series of weekly presentations and sets of readings with a Google Groups discussion at a meeting-place center rather than a distributed array of interests and participants. No aggregator that I have spotted yet. A twitter hashtag of #eduMOOC, but no mention yet of how or why the MOOC would use it.

I come to the course with pedagogical baggage – not as much as some, but baggage all the same. I have a sense of what a MOOC (as a PLE) can be from #PLENK2010 and Weblogs and Wikis this last semester, and I’m hoping for that kind of distributed activity rather than the centralized discussions the plans seem to suggest. I’m not sure I’m really interested in hearing the same old arguments re-hashed on discussion boards. I want to see the administrators who registered for the course engage it by creating a graphic storyboard in response to a collection of readings; or see what the librarians on the course could come up with by way of ontologies, or plans for how a library might support a mobile MOOC. I want see participants create content that we can respond to, not have Yet Another Discussion.

And there’s this from the Chronicle blurb:

Siemens welcomed the growing interest from traditional universities. And he countered the more skeptical take offered by another open-education leader, David Wiley, who wrote recently that “MOOCs and their like are not the answer to higher-education’s problems.”

Um, I’ve never heard anyone in the know claim that MOOCs were an answer to higher ed problems (begging the question, there). In fact, I recall (I’ll find it somewhere) Downes denying that they are intended to be. They are an option in learning, as Siemens is pointing out.

This could be interesting. Or there could be tears before bedtime.