Blobby Thoughts on MOOCs


Of late I have been pondering how different learning communities behave and about valid ways of describing their dimensions and attributes.  Here’s this morning’s idea, refined over lunch time chips with ever patient colleagues.

Here’s my question: is a MOOC more like a Community of Interest or Formal Learning Module.  As ever, “it depends” on the MOOC and the learner!  There are many brilliant online communities based around knitting, coding, money saving tips – these are organic, with transient qualities (you can come and go as you please), and really the only thing that keeps you there are your intrinsic motivation and the social ties you may establish.

MOOCs have similar dimensions regarding intrinsic motivation (and the well reported drop off rates show that engagement lasts as long as interests and life circumstances permit), so I’ve placed cMOOCs right next door, noting that some of them even develop into long-lasting communities.

Then to formal courses: the best ones present opportunities for motivated students to tap into their interests and to develop their subject enthusiasm.  But the demands of curriculum, standards and time can obliterate this at times.  And what of the structured, step by step, platform based MOOC?  Take  Exploratory Data Analysis as an example.  I’m happy to follow the carefully thought out learning journey and am enjoying going through this getting help from previous students, and with the odd detour to experiment.  So this lands close to it’s formal learning compatriot and I’ve allowed a bit of it to creep into “extrinsic”, just in case I get sucked into the need for a certificate!

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