Thoughts on NoirMOOC

It was suggested in the NoirMOOC forum that we should do a post-mortem examination of the course, as a good group of the participants were there as much to learn about MOOCs as for their interest in the subject matter. I think it’s a good idea, although I’m used to having those discussions happen throughout a course. Unfortunately I missed the hangout session, but I thought I’d post some thoughts anyway.

A question was asked about the levels of participation and persistence. This is a common query, and often brought up as an issue, but I don’t think it’s really a big deal. Everyone keys in on the Massiveness of MOOCs, but the real revolutionary element is the Openness. People can go in and out, and participate as they choose, making of the course what they will. I may be counted as a dropout or a failure in many of the MOOCs I’ve joined because I’m not very interested in many of their assessments. Too often it’s assessment for the sake of assessing – just a hoop for people to jump through. While educators should consider the question in all cases, in an open environment it is especially important: What does the assessment do for the learner? If all I get out of the experience is a score, it’s just busywork to me.

This wasn’t much of a problem with the NoirMOOC, as it was more about activities and discussions than quizzes and tests. But, going back to the Open idea, I think the Canvas environment was unhelpful. The LMS is like a box – confining and limiting, and not entirely open. I prefer MOOCs that work as aggregators to those that function as boxes. They let us work in our own spaces, and give us the freedom to bring more to the course and make more out of it. We could be making timelines and concept maps and videos and any number of other things to help us make sense of the material we’re working through and share our understandings with our fellow participants, but there’s no room for it inside the box. Of course, an LMS provides a comfortably familiar environment, similar to a f2f or online class, with traditional students/teacher roles. There’s something to be said for being comfortable. There’s also something to be said for being challenging.

I don’t mean for all that to sound negative. I thought the course was a good experience. OTTO was great. It would be even better if it was a tool open to anyone to use. Everybody’s contributions to the forums and Twitter were great as well

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