Why I’m taking the MOOC MOOC and what I hope to achieve

Today is the start of a particularly exciting massive open online course. Distinct from other ‘mooc’s, this course focuses on consideration of the medium itself. So the course is a meta-mooc: a week-long exploration of open online learning. I think it’s going to be a great week.

I’m fascinated by online learning and accessible lifelong learning. Last year I worked for the East Kent NHS Trust in an online learning role, and it’s wonderful to see how this space has opened up in the last twelve months. I wasn’t aware of moocs or mooc theory at the time – it would probably have been a big help!


In taking this course, I’m hoping to:

1) Gain a deeper appreciation of the pedagogy at play in moocs.

2) Think about the design and platform creation issues involved in moocs.

3) Forge a network that will allow me to properly engage with the medium as it develops into the future.


The moocs  I’ve taken so far have been broadcast-focused: Coursera’s CS101 and Human-Computer Interaction were my first wo. One track of the HCI course centred round a creative project, but the experience was instructor-led and the learning was overwhelmingly imparted through lectures. I had a great time on this course, and I wrote a review of the Coursera Human-Computer Interaction Course on this blog to explore my reflections in more detail.

I recently took the Power Searching with Google course, but didn’t make use of the discussion features offered. Spanning the course of two weeks, the course imparted some neat nuggets of information – some helpful procedural knowledge that has improved how I use Google search. But I felt no particular compulsion to supplement this by engaging in discussion with others. The course felt geared towards imparting specific units of knowledge each week, obtained by walking through the videos and exercises. This meant that the discussion forum felt somewhat unnecessary, as the learning objectives had already been met. The path was mapped out, leaving no real space for emergent knowledge creation through discussion.

At present I’m taking Udacity’s CS101 course, and have a few more courses lined up for the rest of the year. So far I’ve found these online courses to be a great opportunity to pick up technical skills that I didn’t obtain from my humanities degree. But there’s a whole lot more that this medium can do. I’m ready to talk to people, to learn by creating content and networks.


What am I expecting from this week’s meta-mooc? I really enjoyed watching this mooc interview with George Siemens earlier today. He makes a good point about how graduates are cut off from a community of learning when they leave university – this definitely resonates with my experience (I graduated in 2010). I’m working to create new communities of intellectual discussion, learning and practice. Some of these are offline, others online. I hope that this course is an opportunity to become part of such a community and to learn about how such communities can be created.

The interview with George Siemens did a great job of articulating what I’m most excited about – the focus of learning in the network, and the emergent creation of knowledge. I’m really looking forward to the discourses and connections that this week will bring. Let’s see what happens! Why are you taking the meta mooc?

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6 Responses to Why I’m taking the MOOC MOOC and what I hope to achieve

  1. Martin, this post is particularly relevant to the topic–assessment–we’ll be exploring Thursday. I really love how you’ve already begun to formulate your goals and anticipated outcomes for #moocmooc. I hope that you’ll take part that day in the discussion on Assessments and Outcomes, and I’m looking forward to hearing whether the course helps you accomplish these goals and whether you add to or revise them over the course of the week.

  2. Chris Friend says:

    Thanks for writing this. You got me to articulate my own reasons and post them: http://chrisfriend.us/Blog/files/mooc-munching.php I didn’t expect to write something today, so thanks for the nudge.

  3. Josh M says:

    Your point (building off of Siemens) highlights what I find most intriguing about MOOCs thus far — the ability to build knowledge-oriented / knowledge-building communities post-graduation. I’ve been watching many of my former grad school colleagues and friends working to retool their skill sets for non-academic jobs, and I know that resources such as Coursera are appealing to these folks. I’ve also been in dialogue with several of them about building our own post-ph.d. knowledge community for personal and professional reasons, and I think it’s going to be interesting to see what possibilities for such a project emerge from #moocmooc.

    • Thanks for your comment – I couldn’t have put it better myself. I think it’s a real tragedy that one’s engagement with such a community largely disintegrates once you leave university. I’ll be interested to see what sort of ideas you have on this, and I’ll be thinking carefully myself as the week goes on.

  4. Pingback: My assessment of my experience of the MOOC so far. Or: How I stopped worrying and learned to love the MOOC | Reflections

  5. Pingback: My assessment of my experience of the MOOCMOOC so far. Or “How I learned to stop worrying and love the MOOC” | Reflections

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