Archive for September, 2012

Of MOOCs and MOOCMOOC and what they just might mean…

September 12, 2012

Having just participated in a course called MOOCMOOC, which itself was about MOOCs, the outcome from the deliberations of the 500 or so participants was that MOOCs will change education. Exactly how is still unknown though.

One thing that is a known good outcome from this “movement” is that it is bringing the acceptability of distance education to a conclusion that may not have happened otherwise. This can only aid in the move from face to face to “blended” teaching as dual face to face/online delivery is called.

It is becoming clear that a section of society will definitely benefit highly from the open and free courses. These learners may have a new toolset which they can use to become lifelong learners.

MOOCS assume you are computer literate, e-social literate and above all rich enough to afford computers and an “always on” internet. These students will benefit. Will others? It is interesting that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced funding yesterday for MOOCs for disadvantaged students…

Admittedly for our student cohort (Business School) MOOCs will be easily accessible. Of course with the proliferation of MOOCs comes the competition to UNSW. But only if EdX and the like can make their assessment and accreditation models work…

 Of course as we discussed on the course there are a lot of hurdles in developing, designing and running an xMOOC course. Already there are a lot of people questioning issues such as quality assurance, drop out rates, quality of peer assessment and the assessment methods such as automated grading systems often used.

Related to this is that there are 2 main models of MOOC courses. Big business and big universities are going for the “xMOOC” model. i.e. online courses of study based around “content”. There isn’t much new in this. The main thing that has changed is the scale with tweaks to try to shoehorn almost acceptable assessment models into the new scaled courses.

 The course I took (MOOCMOOC) was of the earlier cMOOC variety or connectivist mooc as it is called. This is a mooc not designed around content and assessment but around socially connected learning. MOOCMOOC was a life changing experience and I can really say one of the best learning experiences I have ever had (and I have been through TAFE (Polytechnic), University via face to face/”traditional”/online studies). Unfortunately I’m not sure I can say the same for the xMOOC experiences I have had… Some are little more than canned video, audio and textual content with hacked on assessment methods such as peer assessment or automated testing. Yes it can be a valid way to learn “content” and “information” but at a (post graduate) business school level we need students to be working at obtaining higher end cognitive skills so they can be better managers, decision makers etc. cMOOCs clearly establish this as a set of skills to be learned while taking the course. xMOOCs do not.

cMOOC teaching methods also demonstrate that the LMS (Blackboard/Moodle) is no longer the essential tool for delivering eLeaning. Yes you need a delivery platform but on a cMOOC you must also as a student make use of social tools such as Google Docs, Twitter, Youtube, blogs, Storify, Facebook and other means to connect with and discuss the content, student generated content and each other.


This model is one I can see working in a range of post graduate courses and one I hope to encourage. Finally we (institutions) may have a toolset which we can use to build better courses. Time will tell.

At the end of the day it all comes down to carrying out fundamental educational design from start to finish and building good systems for delivery of a quality online experience. Most of these developments in the future are likely to use sources and systems outside the university. This is one clear shift I can see occuring.

You can see some of my thoughts on MOOCs here on my Storify page (a project from the MOOCMOOC course):

and also see here for some thoughts and details of elearning and Business: Scoopit:



MOOC Unconference mooted internally at UNSW

September 3, 2012

Just sent out to our educational developers mailing list:

Dear all,

As there was some obvious interest from my MOOC presentation last week I am wondering if there is further interest in holding an unconference (“Birds of a feather” style) on all things MOOC and distance education related?


I was thinking this could occur sometime before Christmas on a weekend and last a day (but of course time, date and duration is ultimately up to any group that forms to decide). There we could brainstorm the concept of open online courses (massive or otherwise) and share experiences of existing Distance Ed and Open Ed efforts that have taken place at UNSW.


Potentially we could have a similar format to MOOCMOOC and learn about MOOCs and associated social tools/activities (by looking at examples people have seen or taken part in) and perhaps come up with a list of potential candidates for MOOC development here (See: ). 7 hours means we could potentially cover almost as much ground as MOOCMOOC covered albeit in a different style.


I know some on the list have experience of unconferences as they have been held before informally at UNSW (as they would be of course). Their input would be most welcome.


For those who don’t know “An unconference is a participant-driven meeting. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees, sponsored presentations, and top-down organization.” – Wikipedia


Obviously we would need to keep this relatively informal and would only need a reasonable sized flat teaching space and presentation equipment to make the event happen. Perhaps someone would like to offer a space?


“Typically at an unconference, the agenda is created by the attendees at the beginning of the meeting. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Unconferences typically feature open discussions rather than having a single speaker at the front of the room giving a talk, although any format is permitted. This form of conference is particularly useful when the attendees generally have a high level of expertise or knowledge in the field the conference convenes to discuss.”



I hope this happens. It may just be the shot in the arm UNSW needs to move forward on MOOC development…