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Initial thoughts and curiousities on entering a MOOC

I’ve been thinking, reading and commenting on MOOCs, teaching, theory and practice. I have, as yet, no definite ideas, and my MOOC begins tomorrow. I’ve pitched myself headlong into it, and I’m a classic modern mature student. So, an analysis of myself, and my needs wants and desires is useful. I’ll be teaching people just like me.

I’m retraining, in elearning and teaching technology. The fact that I’m retaining for work, and I’ve paid my own fees makes me committed, driven and demanding. I’m a consumer of education, and that’s an interesting perspective. I want responsiveness, bang for my buck, and a hard-nosed practical slant.

I’m time limited. So, I need, insofar as is possible, learning to happen on my terms, when I want it, where I want it. The how is up to the course, but I demand flexibility and responsiveness.

I want to know the how, the why, the what, and what I can do with it. This is good practice anyway. I’m a typical instance of androgogy (although I take the term with a pinch of salt). I want to be informed each step of the way about all aspects of what’s happening, and how those increase my sense of utility, and capacity to shape my working life.

I want flexibility in the device. I want to be able to sync my learning across several devices. My two screen desktop at home. My smartphone and my laptop. Not being able to access synced learning across several devices is a major inconvenience. And inconveniences chew up too much time. I’m a time pressured learner. If I have the discipline to structure my life to accommodate a course, I expect it to respond with equal efficiency and commitment.

I want transparency, and ease of use. So, the course has to flow well, be well designed, the interface and software, forums, and technologies need to be transparent, user friendly. Nielsens ten heuristics spring to mind. So, minimal intelligent design that focuses on recognition and not recall (I don;t have to learn the sytem or decode it, it should be obvious what everything does). Similar functions aacross the system should look similar, and differing ones should look different, the bells and whistles should be only the necessary to reduce cognitive load – having a learner learn your sytem in order to start to learn should be avoided as much as possible, unless that’s a function of what they need to learn about. There’s more, but that’s a good start.I also need to know the course requirements, and the learning outcomes.

I want recognised qualifications. Difficult with a MOOC. This one is a function of professional curiopusity, and, as I see blended learning happening in contexts where blogs, wikis, skype, mobile learning, doc collaboration provide the framework for both peer and instructor feedback, a MOOC is a good thing to do.

I want the subject matter to be pertinent and competent. It;s got to be up to date, it’s got to be relevant, and it’s got to be of a pofessional standard.

I want focused, clear and competent feedback and feed forward. I’m an adult learner with limited time retraining. The feedback needs to be of a high level. I want feedback from people smarter, more knowledgeable and more incisive than me. That can be professionals, or that can be peers, but, ultimately, some mode or method for discerning peer expertise is necessary.

I want to produce practical work that demonstrates useful skills. This also has to be based on good theory.


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