Questions to ask when planning a MOOC

The task that has been set by Stephen Downes in Week 25 of ChangeMooc,   is to create and present an artifact, which answers the three questions below.

Since I am currently working on planning a new MOOC (massive open online course) – First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, May 21st – June 22nd  – I thought I would focus on this as a response to this task (this is called ‘killing two birds with one stone’!), although I suspect that this is not quite the kind of artifact that Stephen had in mind 🙂 But taking my autonomy into my own hands – here it is with the questions and my answers below.

Q.1. How does your learning artifact instantiate knowledge? And what is the knowledge the artifact represents? Focus not simply on the statement or expression of that knowledge, but also on the organization that constitutes a deeper and more complex knowledge.

I am aware that this artifact looks over simple. There has been a lot written about the organization of MOOCs, not least by Stephen himself.  Having just started with George Roberts  and Marion Waite to plan a MOOC myself (First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, May 21st – June 22nd) I have become aware that the planning depends on asking the right questions.  The quality and validity of the questions  in my artifact depends on what I already know and will only be as good as what I know. What I know about MOOCs is a result of my direct experience over the last four years in a number of MOOCs, the research I have conducted and my gradual increasing ability to recognize emerging patterns in my own understanding.  So the questions in the artifact are my questions, that are specific to my context, reflect my understanding and are personal to me … but might also (hopefully) be recognized as helpful to others.

(Not sure that I’ve answered this question correctly or adequately.)

Q.2. How does a student use your artifact to learn? In what way does the artifact replicate or emulate the experience and performance of a person who already has this knowledge?

The artifact models and demonstrates my belief that raising questions is usually more effective than providing answers. I hope the questions I have raised are open enough to be answered by any learner at any level, in the sense that if the learner doesn’t know the answer, then the learner will be encouraged to find out. They are only ‘starter’ questions. Each question leads to a whole load of further questions, some of which I have indicated as possibilities. I have deliberately not provided answers to the questions. A MOOC runs on principles of autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity. I would like to think that the questions in this artifact also promote these principles.

Q. 3. What is the community around that knowledge – is it a community of language speakers, or practitioners, of adherents of a faith? What would characterize the community – does it revolve around an object, set of beliefs, way of looking at the world? How does the community learn?

There is a recognizable community/network ‘MOOCers’ – a community which, for me, is searching for new and more effective ways of ensuring that everyone on the planet has a right to an education that leads to effective learning.  The community interacts to explore this concern through open sharing  of diverse resources, made richer through the belief that autonomy is fundamental to effective learning. It makes use of advancing technologies to increase the network and the affordances of the web to run massive, open, online courses. Through these MOOCs we give voice to some of our dreams and aspirations for a better future for education across the world.

7 thoughts on “Questions to ask when planning a MOOC

  1. royroy March 7, 2012 / 10:01 am

    Love the graphics.


  2. jennymackness March 7, 2012 / 2:30 pm

    Hi Roy – thanks! It took a bit of nerve to post this – never mind plan a MOOC 🙂

  3. royroy March 7, 2012 / 4:05 pm

    Go Jenny, go!

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