Today has been the last day of the #fslt12 MOOC, at the end of what has felt like an intense week of participants presenting their microteaching activities in Blackboard Collaborate. Without exception these have been impressive and as one of the course conveners it is humbling to work with learners from whom I learn such a lot. It has been a privilege. The recordings of the microteach presentations, which happened on Wednesday and Friday of this week can be found here They are well worth watching and listening to.
I have also been so impressed that participants who did not choose to be assessed have entered into this activity and have been willing to present their work and receive feedback from their peers. No matter how experienced or confident we are in our teaching, there is nothing like being peer reviewed to make us take stock and critically reflect on what it is we are doing.
I have also received this evening an email from one of the MOOC participants sending me this link to Carl Rogers’ work. All he said was,
Thought you might like this Jenny.
.. and I do like it. I feel a strong sense of resonance with Carl Rogers’ ideas about facilitation and the importance of relationships in teaching and learning. These are ideas that I think I have always aspired to – but recently with the advent of MOOCs, my thinking on this has been challenged – because in MOOCs, at least in connectivist MOOCs, or in massive online MOOCs of the Udacity type, the role of the teacher changes …. and for me it has become difficult to continue to understand what, as a teacher, my relationship with learners should be.
In connectivist MOOCs the role of the teacher changes because of the associated ‘hands off’ approach to teaching – or at least that is my experience of connectivist MOOCs. In these MOOCs the teacher is a convener of an event or learning environment, where learners learn from each other and co-construct knowledge. Stephen Downes explains his thinking on this in his post The Role of the Educator This post demonstrates how complex (or even confused) the role of the teacher has become since the advent of MOOCs.
In the Udacity type of MOOC, the scale of these MOOCs means that the teacher is necessarily even more distant. I haven’t had experience of one of these MOOCs yet – but this blog post seems to describe the situation. This post would seem to support the idea that a relationship between teacher (whoever that might be) and learner (whoever that might be) cannot be denied as an important factor in learning.
For me FSLT12 has been an open course rather than a MOOC. My main reason for thinking this has been that in it, I have felt myself to be more present as a teacher/facilitator than I would expect to do in a connectivist MOOC or Udacity type massive open online course. That might be because I have been required to assess some participants’ work. And it might also be because I have been involved in the planning of the structure of the course and therefore am at least in part responsible for its success. But probably mostly because I have felt a sense of responsibility, not only for the success of the FSLT12 MOOC, but much more so for the participants’ learning experiences and I know that this sense of responsibility doesn’t quite fit with a connectivist MOOC philosophy. In my past experience of connectivist MOOCs, this sense of responsibility is not overt, if indeed it exists at all. And that’s OK. I haven’t expected anyone to be responsible for me when participating in MOOCs, or that I would have any sort of a relationship with the MOOC convener.
You will gather from this post that I am still confused about the role of the teacher in MOOC environments. I am still thinking all this through – so I would be very interested to hear what others think. For me it’s all a bit of a dilemma. In MOOCs, am I a teacher, or not, and if I am, what kind of a teacher am I? In FSLT12, I have felt like a teacher/facilitator, but I have not thought that FSLT12 is a MOOC – rather an open online course.