The Connectivist MOOC. The MOOC for MOOC’s sake.

Some MOOCs are wonders of instructional design scaled to a massive audience. They are open as in “free to join”. A good example is Duolingo, originally a Carnegie Mellon University project for language learning.

In this article about Measuring the Success of Online Education, on the NY Times blog “Bits”, Duolingo is cited, and the numbers are indeed impressive. A bookkeepers dream.
And of course, as prof. Cathy Davidson says in this lecture on Youtube, if teachers can be replaced by computers, they should. IF.

Other MOOCs, are open in an “open source” kind of way. The workings of the course are out in the open. Course materials are out on the Internet. Participants are a diverse mix of subject matter experts, intermediates and beginners, and they can participate as much or little as they want, tune in and out at will. People are encouraged to define their own course objectives, and to link up and cluster off with people with the same interests. Feed aggregators serve to mash up an overview. There is a DIY, peer-to-peer, festival kind of vibe to it.

This is a set of guidelines to make a MOOC like that work. Gleaned from the Peeragogy Handbook, Chapter 11. (free PDF )
1. Participants should discuss internal aspects: Discuss goals, self-motivation, intended outcomes.
2. Prepare by acquiring the necessary digital skills.
3. The distributed and varied nature of discussion and course material, is in itself content/a learning adventure.
4. Weekly heads-up through synchronous sessions.
5. Overview of the proceedings, like a daily newsletter. Important: the course-specific hashtag to keep everything findable.

Examples of this kind of MOOC, the connectivist ones, the ones happy to explore what MOOC means, are MOOCMOOC, by Hybrid Pedagogy (see their Canvas site:, and DS106 (Digital Storytelling, University of Mary Washington and throughout the Internet, various times a year).


9 thoughts on “The Connectivist MOOC. The MOOC for MOOC’s sake.

  1. Hi Sara,
    Thanks for providing that 5 point summary. Interesting to read. I think some of us have achieved these 5 goals on #edcmooc so far
    1. We’ve done quadblogging to share goals & expectations, and comment on each other’s thoughts.
    2. We’ve shared files on Facebook for top tips on digitial tools & tired some out in practice (eg VideoScribe, Animoto, Flickr group)
    3. Again, Facebook discussions and the Google + Community have been fertile ground for discussion
    4. We’ve tried a Google Hangout (like Skype if you’ve never tried it)
    5. This is the one that’s maybe lacking a bit. Although things have been organised and people have been using the hashtag a great deal & it’s been very helpful.

    I wonder how people new to the course have found all this? Some of us have been beavering away since November so we’ve had time to test the water, try things, and make connections. I hope no-one feels too isolated, and if they do, would really recommend the quadblogging and the Google hangouts. I am sure there are a raft of other great collaborative ideas out there too.

    Thanks for the post Sara.

    • Thank You Chris, really, it is such a pleasure to get all this feedback.

      As to how “new people found all this”, I can only speak for myself, but I was looking to use my free time to update my skills, and I stumbled upon Coursera, in October last year. I could have hit myself over the head for not discovering these MOOCs sooner. I do have some e-learning experience, so getting started was a matter of resetting a few old passwords…

      I enrolled for the two e-learning courses starting in January, but #EDCMOOC was the first to get in touch. I found the Google+ community, I don’t remember how, and I saw that I had to figure out this “thing” as fast as I could. For me, what is a huge motivator, is the responsiveness of the community, of people like you and the other commenters 🙂

  2. I’d like to comment on what Chris and you have said. With regards to edcmooc, certainly those 4 guideline have been met for most, whether those were actual goals or not, and yes, number 5 hasn’t quite. Given that this particular MOOC has another set of goals and objectives external to the connectivist scenario we have participated in, then perhaps the overview of proceedings will pertain to that aspect and may yet be fulfilled. I am looking forward to an imposed structure and my expectations are that there will be some, similar in nature to the MSC course.

    In etmooc, which is fully out there, no appologies connectivism, I very much feel that it is a mooc for mooc’s sake. This is quite unlike edcmooc where the connectivism element appears discernible from phase 2 (the actual MOOC) which may be more content than connection driven (although clearly there will be a strong connectivist bent). An interesting experiment and a unique opportunity to watch “guided connectivism” in parallel with what feels like a more spontaneous expression of human generosity, exploration, collaboration and cooperation where none was actually required.

    I think we are all watching this space.
    Thanks Sara and Chris.

    • Thanks for your comment, it lead me to “finally” having a look at #etmooc , a name I saw mentioned a few times, and registering for an etmooc Blackboard account and the google+ community.
      The thought crossed my mind that musings on what a MOOC is or could be, belong in etmooc, and that I should try to explore EDCMOOCs topic a bit (digital culture, science fiction, maybe some cyborg stuff?)
      I’m also looking forward to the 28th of January, when the content and work method is going to be “revealed”. I am very curious to see the “guided connectivism”, as you put it so well, in action.

      • Oh dear, Sara, why did I assume you were etmoocing too? Probably because there is so much crossover between many elements of not just edcMOOC (at least the precourse experience) and etmooc, but also perhaps other courses currently running like Old Mooc. And your post seemed more etmoocsih than edcmoccish!! Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the experience. Ary and I have been discussing many aspects of the two connectivist experiences.

        I am floundering with etmooc, probably because I hadn’t fully understood the nature of it before signing my life away. Whilst with edcmooc we have certainly swarmed and colonised some digital and oygenated world spaces through the connections we have made, the time investment has been considerable for those who have chosen to become involved in this way. Although of course, there have been rewards. It has certainly been an authentic experience, which to date, I have not been able to capture through etmooc, for perhaps a number of reasons.

        I’m not sure the timing is now favourable for me to repeat the process with etmooc, and regardless, I’m not sure I can maintain the oxytocin surges that go with making all these rewarding connections! I don’t know if connecting with so many people comes at a cost to the connections I need to make with the people close to me, and if that cost can be weighed up against the benefits. Especially when as a teacher, I have seen it in action enough to get the drift.

        All very interesting, but perhaps a bit of overkill for me. As I said, I’ll be watching with interest although perhaps not participating with as much gusto!

  3. Thanks Sara for writing this post. Angela recommended I read it. What I find interesting is that although EDC-MOOC is classified as an xMOOC, more content focused, less connectivist, somehow we have so many participants who have gone out of their way to connect and form supportive bonds. As Chris explained, we have self-organized and achieved a sense of community and trust using different platforms, which I have yet to experience in et-mooc. Sorry, no offense et-mooc, Maybe it’s my own fault for signing up at the last minute. But even so, we’ve been able to build community using various platforms, anticipating the structure, yes, but taking control over how we want to learn and interact. Perhaps by happenstance, or fate, who knows, there is hospitality, empowerment, trust and support because we’re all there for the same purpose: to learn. And, maybe it’s because we’re in EDC- MOOC to learn, not necessarily “socialize” or “connect”, the connections have naturally emerged because we realize if we connect with others we improve and enhance our learning experience. Chris mentioned some of us have been beavering away since November. Who knows, if the early EDC MOOC community builders unintentionally created an organizational model for those who join later. We see lots of self organizing activities among the current newcomers using all of the platforms the early members put in place, even extensions to what is already there since November. However, I don’t want to generalize. Like Chris said, there may be newcomers to our EDC MOOC spaces who may feel completely isolated, and there may very well be many empowered etmoocers; for me personally, the xMOOC, anticipating the structure of the course, and I guess the luck of meeting so many brilliant, talented and selfless people willing to share, has helped me feel more connected than I ever thought possible in any kind of MOOC. Again, thanks for writing this and hope to see you around EDC MOOC! 🙂

  4. Thank you, Ary.

    I didn’t know those terms existed, xMOOC, cMOOC, I have to read up on that. Thanks for the pointer.

    Indeed, what is the secret sauce, the right timing, the right scale, the right kind of human element, the right amount of effort put into preparation, to create a perfect storm of a learning community? And why do others not take off? Or are perceived to be less “vibrant”?

  5. Pingback: The Connectivist MOOC. The MOOC for MOOC’s sake. | Informal and lifelong Learning |

  6. Pingback: The Connectivist MOOC. The MOOC for MOOC’s sake. | eLearning and Digital Cultures |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s