MOOCs fit the contemporary shift towards networked learning. George Siemens, one of the pioneers in this area, wrote, “Learning is now happening through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks,” in an environment in which, “know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed)” [snip].
Use of educational technology is becoming more mainstream through social media and mobile devices. Thus there is rising interest in finding methodologies that build upon these new technologies to enhance the learning and teaching process. MOOC is one of these emerging formats. A MOOC can boost your institutional, corporate, or NGO knowledge, if you are open to its innovative approach.
History of MOOCs
The term MOOC seems to be the brainchild of two individuals: Bryan Alexander and Dave Cormier. The Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (CCK08) course, first organized by George Siemens and Stephen Downes in 2008, picked up the label. They are seen as the MOOC pioneers.
Benefits and Challenges of a MOOC
12 benefits of a MOOC
- All you need is an Internet connection and a device that can connect to it.
- A MOOC can be organized at low cost, using free tools to build the course.
- You can move beyond time zones and physical boundaries.
- You can organize it in any language you like.
- You can use any online tools that are relevant to your target region, or that your target population is already using.
- It can be launched as quickly as you can inform the participants (which makes it a powerful format for priority learning – for example, in aid relief).
- All can share contextualized content.
- Learning happens in a more informal setting.
- You can connect across disciplines, and, if needed, across corporate/institutional walls.
- You don’t need a degree to follow the course, only the willingness to learn.
- MOOCs add to your own personal learning environment and/or network.
- Lifelong learning skills will be improved, for participating in a MOOC forces you to think about your own learning and knowledge absorption.
- It feels chaotic as participants create their own content.
- It demands digital literacy.
- It demands time and effort from the participants.
- It is organic, which means the course will take on its own trajectory.
- Participants need to self-regulate their learning.
- To guide or not to guide: a MOOC trainer is a guide on the side
Possible challenges of a MOOC
A MOOC is a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange or learning method. This means you do not necessarily have to have one or more facilitators. However it can be useful to provide some guidance during the course to keep most of the interactions focused.
An overall facilitator or coordinator can function as the glue of a course. An overall course facilitator is ideally someone with content expertise and great communication skills. They also need to be social-media savvy to keep on top of the MOOC.