I’ll have the MOOC wrap, to go

Photo Credit: mathplourde via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mathplourde via Compfight cc

I’ll try to be more positive about MOOCs in this post, since it’s claimed that they’re here to stay. So let’s leave aside, kind of, my worries from the last post, because you probably don’t teach writing anyway, and see what’s interesting about the MOOC model. The first day of the ELI 2013 Spring Focus Session, “Learning and the MOOC,” challenged the model by questioning each aspect of the acronym–except maybe course–leading to the sense that everything could be modified or, as suggested in this post’s image, is negotiable. I’m not sure that is actually happening, because the canned MOOCs, the xMOOCs, do not appear to deviate and they predominate the field. Still, there is hope that the model can be crafted in multiple ways and that it can escape from the provider’s can. Now it occurs to me that an image of a shelf of canned MOOCs would be neat here, but I digress.

The highlight of the first day of the focus session for me was learning about wrapped courses, where a small campus cohort, maybe the size of a common SPOC (small, private, online course), is embedded in a MOOC. I heard about a few examples of such courses, and was particularly taken with the one described by Derek Bruff of Vanderbilt, in which the MOOC lasted 10 weeks, followed by a 4-week supplemental campus course.This seems like a terrific way to make good use of the MOOC global environment, while still tending to the needs of your own students and the requirements of your institution for credit. A lot like a study abroad experience without leaving home.

The wrapped model, while raising questions about whether institutions are using the majority of the MOOC students in an elaborate experiment for the benefit of a few well-paying students, appears to be the model with the best benefits for institutionalized MOOCs. Are there other ways in which small cohorts could enroll in a MOOC and derive such benefits on their own?

Could a group of students in a regular on-ground or online course enroll in a MOOC as part of a research project/assignment for the smaller course? Have you heard of any self-organized groups enrolling in a MOOC and taking more control of their participation and outcomes?

I think the embedded model could be an interesting development inside or outside of institutions. You would at least know the people in your own small group while you are meeting random members from around the world, and you could direct your own after-MOOC wrap-up sessions or seek more focused study. I’m starting to see a lot of possibilities.

I’m on the outside looking in on the MOOC project taking place at my own institution, and only know that it is funded by the Gates Foundation and is meant to be a dev ed math course. I do not and never have taught any dev ed courses, so I’m on the outside of that as well. I don’t know how it will be run, but I would be interested to know if it will be a wrapped course. Yes, I’m worried about our needy students doing well in such an environment, but I hope that if it does develop, they do well and move more quickly into their college-level courses.

Me? I’m wondering if I know a group interested in forming a MOOC cohort and what the course might be.

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Categories: education, learning, online learning, technology

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