My analysis of an Open Course

Carefully pre-planned and designed. . . . .

MOOC MOOC is an open course about open courses.  MOOC stands for massive open online course.  The first session of the week-long course was conducted in August, 2012, and the second session in January, 2013.  This open course, delivered through the Canvas Network open online learning platform, appears to have been carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance-learning environment.  The course home page clearly guides the learner through the content and navigation of the course management system.  Included in the design are icons that represent each day of the week.  Clicking on an icon leads the learner to the course content and activities for the specific day.  Each day’s activities incorporate various methods of learning strategies ranging from reading and discussions to creating short videos and tweets.  Multiple individuals present the course – a different presenter for each day’s content. The presenters are teachers and students, supporting the notion that we are all learners and teachers in some ways.  I thought this was interesting and effective for a couple of reasons: 1) it accommodates different learners’ preferences.  One form of presentation may be more appealing to one learner while a different form benefits another learner, and 2) because the material is presented by “peers” students may feel more connected to the learning (topic) and recognize its relevance to their own daily lives, thereby increasing the transfer context, “the way in which the knowledge will be used by students.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.157).

Follows online instruction design recommendations. . . . .

The course follows many of the recommendations for online instruction noted in (Simonson et al., 2012) to accommodate varying needs of the learners.  Included in the design are utilization of multimedia, functional links, user-friendly navigation throughout the course management system (CMS), “clear guidelines for interaction” and discussion assignments that “facilitate meaningful cooperation among students” (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 179).

Maximizes active learning. . . . .

Active learning is evidenced (and highly encouraged) through the various forms of interaction and collaboration methods offered in the course:  threaded discussion, reflection through blogs, YouTube video lectures, creating short movies, tweeting, Google Docs sharing, RSS feeds, and/or any other mode of communication as noted by one of the presenters – “we’re all encouraged to…..communicate every which way with each other all week”  (Morris, 2013).  Each day entailed different tasks the students needed to complete.  For example, the Sunday tasks asked students to complete a student profile, read the recommended materials, participate in discussion, submit a blog, and participate in an informal gathering via Twitter (Morris, 2013).

My open thoughts. . . . .

Based on my observation of the course as a “lurker” (not a participant) I thought the design was brilliant.  It was simple in appearance and structure, yet the assignments seemed to stimulate complex thoughts and discussions, potentially creating the opportunity for more thoughts and discussions. Issues of assessment and learning outcomes, and of when and where we learn are some of the issues presented that have left me contemplating what learning means or should mean.  Perhaps it is not the time bound, institutionally accredited, credential-granting process I strive for.  Perhaps it is.  Perhaps it is the continuous process or journey that I encounter in my everyday life.  Perhaps it is not.  Perhaps it is the collective experience I observe in my learning community.  Perhaps it is not.  Perhaps it is mastering a specific skill or perhaps not.  Or perhaps it is a culmination of all these things.  There is no definitive resolution to these thoughts; I am, simply, open to discussion. . . . .

Marta

References

Morris, S. M. (2013) – Hybrid Pedagogy’s MOOC MOOC. Sunday. The Truth about MOOC MOOC. Retrieved on February 9, 2013, from https://learn.canvas.net/courses/27/wiki/heres-what-to-do-on-sunday

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education. (5th ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

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