Tag Archives: Alec Couros

Defining Edu Terms & MOOC Simulacra

At the heart of the Open Education Resources movement (and the Open movement in general) is the notion that education is a public good.  The progression to such sentiment may be based in a notion that an educated citizenry betters democracy and civic life (folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson), or that knowledge and wisdom are non-rivalrous and non-excludable (Econ 101), or that the increase and diffusion of knowledge stimulates societal and cultural growth (James Smithson, John Quincy Adams).  Regardless of its germination, the crux of such thought is that the provision of education from an egalitarian lens results in benefit across the population.

At face value the Massive Open Online Course fits this vision:  courses are free, prerequisites are encouraged but not enforced, and access to the best professors at the best universities is not bound to geography or economics.  And research into the framework of the MOOC points to the opening of university walls, the building of intra- and internet communications and an attempt to promote the increase and diffusion of knowledge for society, whether communal or global.  That’s why it’s worth noting that one of the primary voices in OER, David Wiley, sees the 2013 incarnation of MOOCs as a money grab:

I propose that, whenever you hear the acronym MOOC, you think: “Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash”

How can a MOOC be both a bastion for openness and the epitome of closed content? Continue reading

Instructor, Facilitator or Free-For-All: What Will ETMOOC Provide?

An about me paragraph:

My name is Rolin Moe, and I am a doctoral student studying learning technologies through Pepperdine University’s Distance Education in Learning Technologies program.  I enroll in a lot of MOOCs, participate in some, complete few.  My interest is mostly as a researcher, looking at how the technology affords the ballasts of education:  purpose, interaction, assessment.  MOOCs like etmooc are interesting because most work in online education has focused on the first or third in lieu of the second; this is the opposite because the first ballast is only defined in generalities, and the third is debatable.  However, I think highly of one of the conspirators, Alec Couros, who wrote a chapter for a research book about his first experience in the MOOC-like world, a chapter I was rather fond of, and was excited to see how a cMOOC from his perspective would go.  I am in the preliminary phases of my dissertation, which looks at instructional roles throughout distance and online education, so I might not participate in discussion too freely, choosing rather to link to other course takers, as well as share some tangential research I am finding in my studies.

My fears, trepidations, and hopes

I just finished a week of #moocmooc, of which I was not a fan (perhaps I will detail some day).  There is a similarity in design between #etmooc and #moocmooc, not the least of which is the idea that the course is not taught, but rather facilitated.  The first I heard of facilitator as a cMOOC term was from Dr. Couros, and I have seen George Siemens use the term as well, but both were doing work at the same time and I’m not sure who gets credit.  Regardless, there is part of me that feels like facilitator is a disingenuous monicker for the work of the person.  I don’t doubt the efforts of Couros and the others; however, to believe that there is not a delineation of power and expertise in distinctive roles is to pretend such does not exist.  Like bell hooks famously noted during the first conference of Cultural Studies, the set up of the space and environment will speak as much of a message as the message you intend, especially in regards to position and power.  The list of conspirators is long and impressive, a mix of practitioners, scholars, users who all have clout in their fields.  If this is a learning environment, there must be a zone of proximal development, and these people are the experts, some of if not most or all of.  I don’t necessarily think this should be shunned, but if it is to be heralded that we are all in a network and we are all on an equal footing, that footing is on shifting ground if I am one click away from seeing who is in charge.

My son is about to start preschool, and we are looking at all sorts of unique options for him.  We viewed a few Waldorf schools online, watching videos and the like, and I was shocked at how traditional the classrooms were.  I told my wife that I want to find a preschool where the teacher’s desk is not in the front of the room at the chalkboard.  Implicit in that statement is an understanding that relationships dictate learning, and by placing the teacher in that position you have a subject/master dichotomy happening.  #etmooc goes out of its way to remove that subject/master relationship, in ways more successful (in my opinion) than #moocmooc did.  But there are experts, there is digital inequality, there are inside jokes among the twitterverse regulars. I am excited about what #etmooc will provide, and curious as to how the facilitators will facilitate.

When MOOCs Happen: Alec Couros Explores Personal Learning Networks

Alec Couros gives a quasi-case study account of his experience facilitating (and I really like that term to define the role of an instructor in a MOOC) EC&I 831, an open access course that grew into an open online course, and eventually had ten times the number of registered students interacting online.  The course is commonly organized with cMOOCs, based on the focus on open access, the online component, the learning theory of the course, and the ratio of external students to internal students.  In this anthology chapter, Couros uses his experience with EC&I 831 to discuss the importance of personal learning networks, analyzing learning theory behind open access learning (and subsequently Open Online Courses).   Continue reading