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I’ve been sharing the reading list from my Emerging Technologies course. So far, you’ve seen the overview and the social media lists. Here’s the reading list about MOOCs, which was our next topic of conversation. The students debated the relative merits of xMOOCs and cMOOCs and the “vote” at the end of the week favored the cMOOC variety, primarily because the students felt there was more opportunity for interaction.  Here’s the (very long) list that got us started.  Enjoy!

Required

Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility  (PDF). By Sir John Daniel (Journal of Interactive Media and Education, 2012) – solid review of xMOOCs, without much attention to cMOOCs (see Stephen Downes critique in comments here).

The MOOC Model for Digital Practice (PDF). By Alexander McAuley, Bonnie Stewart, George Siemens and Dave Cormier (2010) – long article; read the executive summary and skim other parts.

MOOCs: Expectations and Reality. (PDF) By Fiona M. Hollands and Devayani Tirthali. (Columbia University, 2014)) – Read executive summary, Introduction, and Conclusions and Recommendations.

The Scoop on MOOCs. By Catherine Lombardozzi (4 Your Development, 2013) – this brief describes the important distinctions between cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

What is and what is not a MOOC: A picture of family resemblance (working undefinition) #moocmooc. By Dominik Lukeš (blog post, August 2012)

xMOOC Communities Should Learn from cMOOCs. By Michael Caulfied (Educause blog, July 2013)

Multiple pathways: Blending xMOOCs & cMOOCs. By George Seimens (Blog post, May 2014)

RE: Corporate MOOCs (or why those of you in corporate T&D should care about an academic phenomenon)

How MOOCs Will Revolutionize Corporate Learning and Development. By Jeanne Meister. (Forbes, August 2013)

Putting MOOCs to Work. By Josh Bersin and Todd Tauber (Slideshare. December 2013)

10 big reasons for rise of corporate MOOCs. By Donald Clark. (Blog post, December 2013)

 

Recommended

What is a MOOC?

Terrific “explainer” videos by Dave Cormier:
What is a MOOC?
Success in a MOOC
Knowledge in a MOOC

Theoretical Base

A pedagogy of abundance. (PDF) By Martin Weller (Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, 2011).

Rhizomatic Learning by Dave Cormier (2012) – video recommended!      Rhizomatic Education : Community as Curriculum by Dave Cormier (From Innovate – Journal of Online Education 2008)      Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? By Dave Cromier (blog, 2011)      See also materials from Dave’s 2014 P2PU open course, Rhizomatic Learning – The community is the curriculum

What is the theory that underpins our moocs? (connectivist) By George Siemens (blog post, June 2012)

On the “blogosphere” (primarily about xMOOC phenomenon)

What is a MOOC? By Cathy Davidson (HASTAC Blog, August 2012)

If We Profs Don’t Reform Higher Ed, We’ll Be Re-Formed (and we won’t like it). By Cathy Davidson, HASTAC Blog, January 2013)

If MOOCs are the answer, then what is the question? By Cathy Davidson (HASTAC Blog, Februarly 2013)

Let Them Eat MOOCs. By Gianpiero Petriglieri (HBR Blog Network, October 2013)

Some things MOOCs are good for. By Dave Cormier (Blog post, October 2013)

The Spectrum of Opinion About MOOCs – A MOOC Round-Up by Doug Holton as of November 2013

Also Recommended

Open Univerisity’s course on Open Education (free standing content). Materials found here.

Educause coverage of MOOCs: Search results here.

Chronicle of Higher Education coverage of MOOCs. Search results here.

MOOC News and Reviews online magazine

MOOC Platforms

MITx:  http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mitx-related-courseware/

EdX:  https://www.edx.org/

Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/

Udacity: https://www.udacity.com/

P2PU: https://p2pu.org/en/

Intrepid Agile Corporate MOOC product: http://intrepidlearning.com/what-we-do/learning-technology/corporate-mooc/

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In the spring, I’ll be teaching an online course on “e-collaboration,” and I have the opportunity between now and then to tweak the design of the course a bit. So I’ve been mulling over the concept of “e-collaboration.”

The students will be expecting to learn about all kinds of electronic tools that allow for interpersonal interaction, but I’ve been stuck on the notion of collaboration. I do want to continue the focus on examining the functionality and affordances of various tools (that’s the “e-” in the course title and the core of the course description). But I also want to expand the discussion on the value of collaboration for learning and the techniques that will generate collaboration within the tools we explore.

Collaboration
working with someone to produce or create something

Tools themselves aren’t inherently collaborative, it’s how we use them that might promote collaboration. What makes the use of a blogging tool collaborative? In what circumstances does a discussion board morph from a communication tool to a collaboration tool? How does a shared net space transform from a holding tank for documentation and a Q&A forum to a collaborative space for inventing new ways of doing things or constructing new ways of understanding concepts or approaches? Can an LMS promote collaboration?

I thought I would share some of the ways I am answering those questions.

Prerequisites for online collaboration for learning:

Commitment – Having an urgent problem or an intellectual passion is what gets people in the mood to work more closely with others who share the desire to learn more. We need to be working with learners who are deeply invested in learning together, not simply interested in “learning something about” the topic at hand. If learners don’t contribute, then collaboration can’t happen. So we have to think about the degree to which the learners are committed to learning and to applying their learning to immediate projects and practices.

Psychological Safety – The term is a mouthful, but shorthand for the idea that people need to feel comfortable engaging with one another and taking risks.  We need an environment where people will be listened to and respected; where they are able to make mistakes or “think out loud” and not feel they are being judged harshly.  When my own learning has benefitted from collaboration with another, it has been because both of us were at least initially intent on understanding each other’s perspectives, not advocating for our own views. Disagreements didn’t degenerate; they continued give and take in a respectful way. (It’s an art that is becoming lost, I am afraid.)  We have to think about what makes the online space safe and comfortable for collaboration.

Engagement – The design of a learning space within these tools needs to employ techniques that require active engagement in learning, not passive absorption of knowledge. There need to be enough people involved to get diversity of thought (which in some instances, can be two people), but not so many that the online exchanges are hard to follow. We want to draw learners into participation.

User-Friendly Virtual Space – Anyone who has experimented with technology understands the value in using tools that are intuitive and somewhat customizable. Any of us who use social learning tools have experienced the jarring realization that the tool’s development team has “improved” the product by changing our favorite features (to the delight of half the people who use the product). Allowing learners/users to customize to a degree can help keep people engaged and prevent learners from bailing out of the collaboration because of frustration with the tools.

What else is critical if we want to promote the kind of collaboration that generates new knowledge?  I would love to hear your comments and advice on other avenues to pursue before sketching out a syllabus. (And yes, I do see the irony of singularly creating a syllabus when the topic is collaboration.)

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I’ve been doing some research on digital textbooks in order to prepare a faculty development workshop on the topic. I’m impressed, and truly optimistic regarding what is available and what is possible. Pretty cool stuff!

The way I see it, even if all we do is produce beautiful textbooks that can be read on a digital reader and electronically marked with highlights and notes – that would be terrific. Books would be easier to carry around and access on the fly.  As well, there are cost advantages, and the digital format is a “greener” way to publish. All good – but I’ve seen so much more than just a change in format.

Several producers are working hard to enrich the textbook experience by providing extra content (rollover definitions, longer graphics captions) and links to relevant video, audio, and reference materials. Some sites allow for sharing comments and highlights with a study group as well, giving students another way to engage with each other in coming to an understanding of the material. The capability has the potential to be overwhelming, but some of the examples I have reviewed so far were quite well done. (For example, take a look at what they’re doing at Inkling – if you have an iPad, you can download sample chapters.)

Some people worry that all those links and other bells and whistles are just distractions that prevent our minds from concentrating on the ideas being presented in the text. Nicholas Carr (author of The Shallows), for example, makes a pretty impassioned argument that those hyperlinks interrupt our thought processes even if we ignore them. I absolutely agree that we need to be thoughtful about the choices we make in enriching the content.

But recognizing the fact that learners don’t come to the material with the same background and interests, it would seem to be a terrific idea to give options for review or deeper study – and in digital format, these options are available with one click rather than looking up the back page of the syllabus, and then using a search engine (or trekking to the library!) to find what you’re looking for. Removing the barriers to further exploration of a topic is a huge win.

To make this new approach to publishing as powerful as possible, we’ll have to apply some solid design thinking to the production of textbooks – and other kinds of books for that matter. The links we provide need to support learning, and expand the material at different levels and in relevant ways. We’ll want to consider producing customized materials, and we may need to get appropriate permissions to link to publicly available resources.

One of the exercises I plan to give to the faculty in this class is to design the digital presentation of a favorite chapter or resource – identifying what they might hyperlink that would support their students in positive ways. Imagine what we can do!

I’m still doing a lot of exploration and thinking about implications here – I would welcome any comments you have or references you would share on the topic.

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