In the spirit of broadening the massive, ubiquitous learning networks we stuff under the MOOC umbrella, I present Ed Startup 101, a MOOC (labeled as such by its creators, though they make sure to define it outside of that auspice) designed around the ingredients and considerations for people interested in the world of Educational Technology start-ups.
I first became aware of Ed Startup 101 through following Richard Culatta on Twitter. I met Mr. Culatta in March at the Department of Educational Technology as part of a contingent from Pepperdine University. We had a group discussion for an hour, and I had a few minutes at the end to ask Mr. Culatta several questions.
This led to him sharing a wonderful phrase he coined about the kind of online/computerized learning that keeps progressive and constructivist teachers awake at night: next button learning, or learning modules where the student makes progress through hitting a next button rather than wrestling with, manipulating or internalizing the content. Seeing folk within the Department of Education working against the notion of next-button learning was a refreshing revelation considering some of the partisan discussion happening regarding education.
Ed Startup 101is a unique addition to the MOOCsphere for a number of reasons
- The LMS isn’t so much an LMS…it is a WordPress site utilizing the various tools and abilities of the WordPress platform
- The course has no affiliation with a specific business venture (Udacity), non-profit organization (The Gates Foundation), or an academic institution (Athabasca, Coursera schools, edX schools). I should note that three of the four creators are associated with Brigham Young University, though I have found no tangible link to the university. In this sense, the course is there because the creators saw a need and desired to fill it.
- The course is designed more like a cMOOC than an xMOOC, but neither term does the course justice. The course is designed along collaboration and PLN’s to an extent similar to cMOOCs, but projects are more specific than the general reflection of a cMOOC, projects offer a degree of scaffolding, and there is an end result more specific than material learned.
It also is not the size of MOOCs, whether it be the six-figure student numbers in an xMOOC or even the four-figure student numbers in a cMOOC. I don’t know if I am looking in the right enrollment numbers, but at present I see the Ed Startup 101 enrollment at 399 people. But as I mentioned in a recent post, NaNoWriMo started with 21 people in its infancy and now affects a quarter of a million, so the massified aspect of these ubiquitous learning networks may need not be an immediate concern. At the same time, the ability for the course to work with a more massive audience is a question to consider.
What are the implications of such a MOOC in the MOOCsphere? The course is modeled more like a traditional educational course than a cMOOC, but it has no institutional affiliation. There is no potential for institutional credit, so it would be an example of non-formal learning (I do wonder whether MOOCs are formal or non-formal, because some people can take the course for credit and others cannot, so does formality rest with result or institutional affiliation?). The course offers scaffolding of projects, though the individualization of it still rests with the community rather than the facilitators. All of this is unique in its own way to the MOOC world, but with a focus in open education (#oped12) and massification, Ed Startup 101 provides as many answers as it does ask questions about the MOOC model.
Most of the energy behind MOOC discussion and MOOC research has focused on higher education, or at the least formal notions of education. Perhaps Ed Startup 101 is an example of how what we define today as MOOCs can be utilized in non-formal or informal learning spaces. Culatta and his partners seemed to create this project without a tangible space to associate it with, but existing tangible platforms such as professional conferences, museums and libraries could adapt this MOOC iteration for their proceedings, collections and special events. Such things won’t happen en masse until we better define the elements of the massive ubiquitous learning networks we colloquially define as MOOCs.