Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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…

MOOC – The challenge to our University

August 30, 2012

I did it. I sent a message to our educational developers. No, more than a message, and to more than just the ed developers. Also to the admins and the managers.

ImageAnd that message was: Take up the challenge of MOOCs. Take up Distance Education and embrace it. Look at MOOCs and learn.

Oh dear. I think I am an EDUPunK! 🙂

Here is a copy of the email just sent:

Dear UNFed members,

My thanks to those who attended my session yesterday on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). I was encouraged by the large turnout.

For those who didn’t attend I attach the PDF of the mindmap used to loosely join together the (my) learning’s from the MOOC.

In the center you will find the term MOOC and a link to a video describing MOOCs (by Dave Cormier Interestingly one comment from the discussion about the video was that it was describing essentially a utopian or ideal MOOC.

To be honest that is actually my experience and what I got from MOOCMOOC – the online course about MOOCs that I participated in. I learned that (distance/elearning) education can be student centred, can form a very successful collaborative chort of students, can be more than the LMS, can make use of social tools in novel ways, can lead to an improvement of my social network and overall *WILL* be a major force in the future. Of course MOOCMOOC was a cMOOC – a connectivist MOOC and NOT an xMOOC. xMOOCs are the “commercial” MOOC courses that have assessments and offer certifications.

Can all courses be taught this way? Are Coursera and EdX etc (xMOOCs) going to rule all forms of education? This is unknown. No one knows. BUT I do now know that the cMOOC model does offer a very valid way to teach students at the highest level (e.g. highest level of Blooms etc). Could we (UNSW) do this? Should we make it a whole course? Part of a course? Could we deliver it at a cost we could afford? Would it be best for marketing UNSW? Would it be best for enticing students? These are all questions yet to be answered… The future for a lot of independent learners though will be the MOOC (due to their free nature and openness) so to answer one question, yes MOOCs are likely  a challenge to UNSW and its mission. How great a challenge is yet to be seen.

As talked about briefly at the meeting there is a lot of change that needs to occur within the university in relation to policy, support of openness, support of distance education etc for a MOOC to be effectively run from UNSW (as a centralised initiative at least). But I believe we can all learn from and include aspects of MOOC course design in what we do as educators and course designers regardless of top level decisions.

My challenge to you as Ed Developers, interested admins and managers (yes I know you are on this list), is to find a MOOC (cMOOC or xMOOC), enroll and study its ways. I guarantee you will learn a lot… One place to start looking for a MOOC may be here: If you are interested in “Sustainability” (A subject MBT teaches in a “real” online course format) here is a course you might also find interesting:

On a related note for those who did attend you might like to take a look at Stephen Downes latest post on assessment. I think it too is a step forward in educational thinking…

More idealism? Sure, but at the end of the day aren’t we all trying to offer the ideal learning environment to our students?

Thanks for your time, your interest and your feedback.

Andrew Chambers BA, CBC, GCOLL, MEd

P.S. To stay up to date with my discoveries and interests in MOOC and Moodle feel free to follow me on twitter (atsc). Twitter was one of the essential social glues that held the MOOCMOOC course together and made it work for a large number of students…

Of early LMS systems and bits of string…

July 19, 2008

I remember a previous life and researching the early LMS systems. I seem to recall I found 6! WebCT was one of them, firstclass and topclass too. I seem to recall the pre-cursor of Blackboard, and a lotus product? I don’t know, I can’t remember. But WebCT 0.9 Beta stood out (It was known as Campus Edition then). So we went for it (with v1 of course). Actually the IT department went for it. And it worked. And it was real, real, basic – to say the least. Discussion, adding content, adding grades, making a homepage, maybe a few other tools. But we had one thing on our side. Distance Education. We couldn’t fail. And didn’t. It is still used in that place. Still alive, but of course upgraded and much changed. But I moved on (after 5 years). But alas no distance education. So how could such a tool be used??? It beat the heck out of me. For several years in fact. But I’m more sure of the direction, now having finally used it in teaching. Over 10 years consulting about it but with no real fundamental understanding of its use. How could I? Shame, shame…

More history… Before the web there was and there will always be…

July 19, 2008

The textual Internet. At least I guess that is what you would call it. Usenet, gophers, muds, moos, all sorts of strange things. I remember the immediate pre-cursor to web sites. It was very strange navigating by keyboard and not seeing pictures. And yet it was alluring.

I remember even attempting to write guides for academics on how they might use such services. It all seems so quaint now. I wonder if they ever used them? Or even understood what might be around the corner (I certainly had no idea). Still it was a first step. Small moves, small moves…

A re-awakening and a brief history of time…

July 19, 2008

It’s been a long time since I really last blogged. About 10 years. Before there were blogs there were people with skills who could edit web sites with their bare hands and a text editor. That is when I first started blogging. Only it wasn’t called blogging then. What made me do it? A drive to appear to be a know it all? Probably. To help people? Probably. I’m not sure I remember. So what did I blog about. Funnily enough educational technology. And that is the theme for this blog too. Only this time I do know what I am talking about 🙂

Stay tuned. My thoughts on Learning Management Systems and how these compare with Web 2 technologies may be worth reading about. Maybe.

Time will tell.

July 18, 2008

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Hello world!

June 27, 2008

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