The Big Question


Well, I planted those spuds, and I hope it wasn’t too early in the year, given how cold the soil feels. We’ll see….

However, I still wasn’t really sure what my big question should be. My quandary is this. I have joined this course in order to try to reach an informed judgement about the potential for MOOCs in UK Higher Education. However, questions on this topic have a couple of disadvantages. Firstly, things can get circular when the theme of a MOOC is a MOOC – I generally prefer to test out ideas about teaching and learning in a separate context. Gardening, perhaps? But that wouldn’t work here, anyway. The other disadvantage is the near certainty of not reaching a definite conclusion. There is not much point in asking a question which doesn’t lend itself to being answered, given the resources, time and help available. However, on this occasion I think I will have to live with these disadvantages, and try to find ways to learn as much as I can, knowing that I will probably never get to where I want to be. I am also encouraged to see from Tom Franklin’s blog summary of questions that a few others have been rash enough to go down this route. So, MOOCs it is then. 

I could have gone for something like ‘MOOCs: Utopia or Dystopia?’. But this seems perhaps a bit too big, and with too many aspects – pedagogical ideas, business models, etc. So, with some reluctance I set aside the business side of things, and focus on the learner experience. Apparently, that is to be the focus of Futurelearn, so there is a precedent, perhaps. I was interested to hear what Diana Laurillard had to say about the 25:1 ratio in her opening webinar: that just happens to be about the size of an Open University tutor group, and also is a reasonably typical size for a group in a secondary classroom.  But MOOCs are sometimes on another scale altogether. So what happens then? Do people self-organise into smaller groups? Or does peer interaction go out of the window, with a result that people behave as though they were in a lecture room, or in a library.

So, my question is: ‘Can a MOOC give a great learning experience?’






One Response to “The Big Question”

  1. kshjensen Says:

    Interesting thoughts. Could you not use your own current experience to try and answer your question in some way? Are you having a great learning experience (yet…)? In this way you could analyse how you engage, the benefits/drawbacks/challenges and the peer interaction etc.

    Are you planning to create a smaller group or discussion forum around your question?

    Oh, and I can’t resist returning to gardening and say that with MOOCs I think you reap what you sow.

    Good luck with the spuds!

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