MOOC: A Massive Open Online Course – Societal Innovation in Education?

On the 12th of September the MOOC  www.change.mooc.ca  (a massive open on line open course) begins. Participation is free, there is no specific syllabus and participants in the course decide when, how, what, and why the want to learn.  This particular MOOC is about education, learning, and technology and asks (among many other questions) the question ‘how does learning change when formal boundaries are reduced?’

Last month in Espoo Finland the Aalto Camp for Societal Innovation was an example of how people co-operating and co-creating can encourage thinking around the challenges of the future and societal change, we believe that this blog offers these possibilities too, and activities like the  http://www.change.mooc.ca give further examples of opportunity for Societal Innovation.

To draw on the ideas of  Fred Garnett  we really have moved into an era of post-institutional learning.

The MOOC course “Education, Learning, and Technology”  outline reads as follows (and is produced in full here).

“Being connected changes learning. When those connections are global, the experience of knowledge development is dramatically altered as well. Over the past four years, a growing number of educators have started experimenting with the teaching and learning process in order to answer critical questions: “How does learning change when formal boundaries are reduced? What is the future of learning? What role with educators play in this future? What types of institutions does society need to respond to hyper-growth of knowledge and rapid dissemination of information? How do the roles of learners and educators change when knowledge is ubiquitous?”

…This is an unusual course. It does not consist of a body of content you are supposed to remember. Rather, the learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person.

In addition, this course is not conducted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the web. We will provide some facilities. But we expect your activities to take place all over the internet. We will ask you to visit other people’s web pages, and even to create some of your own.

This type of course is called a ‘connectivist’ course and is based on four major types of activity:

1. Aggregate

We will give you access to a wide variety of things to read, watch or play with. There will be a LOT of content associated with this course, everything from relatively basic instruction to arguments and discussions to high-level interviews with experts in the field.

Every day you will receive an edition of ‘The Daily’, which will highlight some of this content. Normally it will arrive first thing in the morning (if you are in North or South America), but not always. The Daily is created fresh each day – it is not prepared content. So delivery may vary

You are NOT expected to read and watch everything. Even we, the facilitators, cannot do that. Instead, what you should do is PICK AND CHOOSE content that looks interesting to you and is appropriate for you. If it looks too complicated, don’t read it. If it looks boring, move on to the next item.

2. Remix

Once you’ve read or watched or listened to some content, your next step is to keep track of that somewhere. How you do this will be up to you.

You can keep a document on your own computer listing all the things you’ve accessed. Or, better yet, you can keep a record online somewhere. That way you will be able to share your content with other people.

3. Repurpose

We don’t want you simply to repeat what other people have said. We want you to create something of your own. This is probably the hardest part of the process.

Remember that you are not starting from scratch. Nobody every creates something from nothing. That’s why we call this section ‘repurpose’ instead of ‘create’. We want to emphasize that you are working with materials, that you are not starting from scratch.

What materials? Why, the materials you have aggregated and remixed online. These materials are the bricks and mortar you can use to compose your own thoughts and understanding of the material.

What thoughts? What understanding? Well – that is the subject of this course. This whole course will be about how to read or watch, understand, and work with the content other people create, and how to create your own new understanding and knowledge out of them.

In a sense, the change.mooc.ca we will describe in this course are the TOOLS you will use to create your own content.

Your job isn’t to memorize a whole bunch of stuff about the tools. Rather, your job is to USE THE TOOLS and just practice with them. We will show you the tool, give examples, use the tools ourselves, and talk about them in depth. You watch what we do, then practice using them yourself.

Think of every bit of content you create not simply as content, but as practice using the tool. The content almost doesn’t even matter – what matters is that you apply the tool.

This will seem awkward at first, as any tool does. But with practice you’ll become an accomplished creator and critic of ideas and knowledge. And that is the purpose of this course!

4. Feed Forward

We want you to share your work with other people in the course, and with the world at large.

Now to be clear: you don’t have to share. You can work completely in private, not showing anything to anybody. Sharing is and will always be YOUR CHOICE.

And we know, sharing in public is harder. People can see your mistakes. People can see you try things you’re not comfortable with. It’s hard, and it’s sometimes embarrassing.

But it’s better. You’ll try harder. You’ll think more about what you’re doing. And you’ll get a greater reward – people will see what you’ve created and connect on it. Sometimes critically, but often (much more often) with support, help and praise.

People really appreciate it when you share. After all, what you’re doing when you share is to create material that other people can learn from. Your sharing creates more content for this course. People appreciate that, you will probably appreciate the content other people in the course share with you.

When a connectivist course is working really well, we see this great cycle of content and creativity begin to feed on itself, people in the course reading, collecting, creating and sharing. It’s a wonderful experience you won’t want to stop when the course is done.

And – because you can share anywhere – you won’t have to. This course can last as long as you want it to….”

Please do visit www.change.mooc.ca if you fancy learning more.

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About David C Roberts

I am passionate about innovation, development, learning, and the future. I work internationally supporting individual entrepreneurs, organisations, educational institutions and government bodies. I am available to speak, facilitate learning sessions and run enterprise workshops. Areas of experience and know how include: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Leadership, Management Accounting, and People Development .
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