A year ago we decided to rewrite one of our Master's level courses, H817, Innovation and Openness in Education. I volunteered to write one of the four blocks of the course, on open education. I blithely suggested, "I'll probably make it a MOOC." It seemed fitting as MOOCs and different flavours of openness were the subject of the block. At the time MOOCs were all a bit new, experimental and fun.
How that glib suggestion has haunted me. As the profile of MOOCs have increased so the demands and requirements placed on creating one have multiplied. But with the help of some great people at the OU (it's been great to work with people who want to help rather than just repeating "no") we are finally ready to roll.
Yes, now you can enrol on the MOOC, which starts officially on March 16th. There is some set-up work that can be done and you'll be registered to go then when it's all live.
Not another bloody MOOC I hear you cry! Yes, but I hope to be testing some new elements as well as providing damn fine learning materials. Here's what I think is mildly distinctive about mine:
- Not celebrity focused - although it's written by me, it doesn't feature me, the activities are written in an objective style. I'm uneasy about the whole celebrity academic thing in MOOCs, but I know some people like that sense of following an expert, so we'll see if this less personality focused model works.
- Collaboration-lite pedagogy - in a lot of our formal courses we have very structured group work, which develops important team working skills, but is very time-consuming and often unpopular. I'm trying to use a 'collaboration-lite' model here (I'm not the first, DS106 and others do it very successfully). The intention is that you act as individuals, but through blogs, twitter and yes, good old-fashioned forums there is room for engagement and community. It's as take as much community as you want model. Some people like to study alone, others want to socalise, I'm hoping to cater for both.
- Open as to time - although it will run as a cohort for 7 weeks from March 16th, the course will then be 'frozen' and stay open in the OpenLearn environment. This means that although you won't be studying it with people or have any support, you can study it any time. I would like to see staff development or study groups create their own cohort and do it whenever they want.
- Mix formal and informal distance learners - Alec Couros, Dave Cormier, Jim Groom, Jonathan Worth and David Wiley have all run open boundary courses before, where the campus students mix with the informal learners. So it's not that new, but it's the first time we've done it at the OU, and I'm not sure it's been done with distance learners that much before. So it'll be interesting to see how these groups mix.
- Forum support - I've been lucky enough to get some cash to pay two of our associate lecturers to support the course by looking after forums and checking twitter. This doesn't mean they are acting as personal tutors to everyone, so don't bombard them with queries, but I'm interested to see what levels of support are needed.
- Badges - okay, not that novel, but there are three badges associated with the course, so again, I'm just interested in how much take-up of these there will be, and whether people want more.
The course outline is as follows:
- Week 1: Openness in education
- Week 2: Open education resources
- Week 3: Moving beyond OER
- Week 4: MOOCs
- Week 5: Pedagogy in open learning
- Week 6: Operating in an open world
- Week 7: Conclusion
Go on, give it a bash, what have you got to lose but your evenings?