In just over a week, I shall be joining a MOOC. For those who do not already know, a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. This will be the first time I have tried participating in such a group and I am both excited and terrified. I am excited by the prospect of learning something new. The course I have chosen is being offered by Coursera (a group of Universities and colleges offering free, online education) and is called E-learning and Digital Cultures, so it ties in directly with my work, and to some extent my Masters. I am nervous because I already find I have limited time for my work, my family, my leisure. The course tutors say that the course will take 3-5 hours per week, which will be fine. However, there has been a flurry of pre-course activity and rumours of 2,500 course participants. With everyone blogging, tweeting, sharing their insights via Facebook and Google+, I imagine the possibilities for ways to spend time could extend to months. I was recently part of a course where I worked online with about 20 students and I found the volume of messages generated very difficult to follow. I know there is theory that indicates learning outcomes can be improved by peer collaboration, but my question is: How many peers? How much collaboration? And what quality of the interactions?
I also have some wider MOOC questions. I think it is fantastic that the elite preserve of Higher Education is opening its doors to all comers but where does this lead us? Do Universities offer this in the hope of enrolling more students to their courses? In times where Universities are already struggling for finances, how are the tutors that support such courses paid? Will people bother with degrees in the future or just immerse themselves in a series of MOOC courses? A pupil I interviewed the other day told me that he loves to follow courses from Universities on You Tube and iTunesU (he was 15 years old). It also looks like there will be more organisations offering MOOCs in the future: An organisation called FutureLearn has already been set up in the UK, due to deliver courses in the near future.
As the course develops I will be blogging and sharing my experiences of being a MOOC participant. I will also be keeping an eye on the ‘mobile learning’ side of the experience as I am keen to see how much I am able to do on my mobile devices and how much this influences my learning. I am also keen to see whether this an experience that could be used by schools. Imagine a situation where, for example, Biology GCSE is offered by MOOC. Would there be takers? Would it suit school pupils? Some of my evidence from my research is already suggesting that pupils are increasingly relying on finding their own information online after a stimulus in school.
Couting down to launch date: 28th January 2013……..#edcmooc