Monthly Archives: November 2013

#MCN2013 Presentation – MOOCs and Museums

I presented the theory and modeling behind my practical learning model the MOOCseum to an energetic and excited group of museum practitioners at the Museum Computer Network in Montreal on November 23, 2013.  Despite three separate issues with linking my computer to the projector (somewhat cursed these past two presentations), I kept on-point with the presentation, and feedback was not only well-received but unique to practical issues, important for me as both a scholar as well as a practitioner.

I recorded the audio of the session; apologies for the first 30 seconds of slide issues, but the audio is a serviceable compendium to the slides.

#ALN13 Presentation – MOOC Cartography (A Literature Review)

I presented my dissertation literature review at the Sloan International Conference for Online Learning on Wednesday at 12:45pm at the Swan & Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World.  Several technological glitches threw me off-point, and the topic was expansive by design (perhaps too much), but attendees were positive and responsive to the presentation.

Looking back over my literature review (I completed my oral defense in July of this year), I see not only a great deal of change in the field, but also a greater understanding within myself of the field and its tribulations.  There is a lot of news and hullabaloo about MOOC platforms, MOOC economics, MOOC battles on campuses, but there is still a significant lack of writing on MOOCs from the dominant ideology from a theoretical perspective.  The MOOC as we see it in everyday literature was built by computer scientists interested in artificial intelligence and machine learning.  AI and Machine Learning are byproducts of cognitive science, which has a sister learning theory, cognitive theory.  Obviously the 1960s and 1970s sent the psychologists and educators down one road where a human mind handled information and grew into education theories such as constructivism, social learning theory and activity theory…while the computer scientists went down another road with expert systems and intelligent agents.  But both constitute learning from a certain perspective.
The theoretical voice missing in this MOOC debate is the AI voice.  What is the learning theory behind the AI movement that helped usher MOOCs into existence?  Who are the seminal authors in the field?  Why is learning designed for machines considered applicable to humans? Once all sides have an understanding of these issues we can better engage in dialogue about MOOCs and their role in the future of higher education.

Udacity: Shifting Models Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Just over a year ago (a year and two days, to be exact), Clay Shirky wrote Napster, Udacity & the Academy, one of a few “must-read” articles regarding the MOOC phenomenon.  Shirky built an argument that MOOCs fit the monicker of Christensen’s theory of disruptive technology, doing so by noting the dominant higher education narrative (made up of Ivy League or Tier 1 Research schools) focuses on a small and misleading fraction of the sea of higher education (regional schools, community colleges, for-profit institutions), allowing him to posit that the theory behind the MOOC is proof that higher education can be disrupted:

The possibility MOOCs hold out isn’t replacement; anything that could replace the traditional college experience would have to work like one, and the institutions best at working like a college are already colleges. The possibility MOOCs hold out is that the educational parts of education can be unbundled.

Shirky then links this “unbundled education” (possible for those who cannot afford the “ransom note” of a higher education sticker price) to the potential of a MOOC, noting that, like the musical track unbundled from the CD, learning can be set free from the degree.

The argument Shirky presents is compelling, and was a watershed moment in the MOOC debate, a place where a well-respected Internet scholar seemingly sided with a movement that many practitioners viewed as antithetical to learning and the Open movement.  As an advocate for Open, Shriky’s argument of a collegiate experience grounded in reality and not lofty Ivy stature saw MOOCs as an opportunity to improve that reality, an opportunity for those whom payment was one of the primary hurdles:

MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system.

One year and two days ago, this was the advertised potential of the MOOC movement.  The heavily advertised potential.

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#OpenEd13 Presentation – We Have Lost the Term “MOOC”

Video of my presentation MOOCseum: Using the Open Movement to Invigorate Local Museums is posted below. Attendees were engaged and responsive, and the numbers were impressive especially considering this was the final presentation slot at the conference.

Attendees were interested in the potential at the confluence point of MOOCs and Museums, and the Q&A session (unfortunately not all caught on camera; I went over my allotted time) captured some of those possibilities (opening up two-way communication at museums beyond a set MOOC date, incorporation into non-art entities, augmented technologies to spur communication and supplemental learning). We discussed art and aesthetics, copyright, institutional inertia, facilitation vs. expertise, and many other ideas floating in the OER ether.

But the Twittersphere showed the most interest one statement, pulled from my theoretical work on MOOCs:


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The MOOCseum – Initial Report at #OpenEd13

Tomorrow (Friday, 3:30pm in White Horse at The Canyons Resort – Park City, UT) I will present the theoretical and practical elements behind the MOOCseum, a learning model I developed in partial fulfillment of my doctoral coursework at Pepperdine University.  This project is under consideration for a Waves of Innovation grant at Pepperdine, and I have explored the topic with both the Chief Financial Officer at Pepperdine as well as the director of the Weisman Art Center, an art museum on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus receiving patronage from the Weisman Trust.  The development of the learning model is exciting, and so are the trials that have come with putting it into practice at various institutional levels.  I look forward to sharing the results!

As a MOOCseum is designed to both mirror the distance education aspect of a MOOC while providing a real-time, event-based learning experience, I have posted a potential MOOCseum learning experience at my home page,  The Open Education Conference will film the presentation, and I will link to it at that time.  Please join the conversation either in blog comments, Tweets (#MOOCseum), or other potential avenues of social interaction and innovation.