Crosby's Design Narrative
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4 March 2013
As an entrepreneur, educator, researcher, writer, and owner of an educational firm, it's encumbent upon me to stay abreast of emerging trends in the field. As I was reading one of the many magazines that I peruse regularly, I came across a mention of MOOCs. I had not heard of them before but the article seemed to imply that it was an emerging trend that was going to reshape the educational industry. So I decided that I needed to educate myself on MOOCs and the best way to do that was to participate in one. At the time, I was already completing an open course on psychology through CMU but it was a self-study course; no interaction with instructors or other participants. I enjoyed having the access to the materials and I believe this experience made me more receptive to participating in a MOOC.
I decided that if I was going to participate in a MOOC, than I wanted to also work on an issue that I thought was very relevant to business education. Currently, business education and social sciences are non-integrated fields of study. You go to school for one or the other. If you're fortunate, you may be able to use a general elective to take a psychology class as a business major. But that class won't relate what you learn to practical business skills like motivating individuals, leading teams, organizational norms and culture, talent development, etc. A solid grounding in psychology is paramount for successful leaders and often results in significant training costs as the person progresses in their career. So the question was: "how do I integrate this knowledge in a manner that fits within a business curriculum?"
Using my business leadership experience and the knowledge gained through CMU's Psychology class, I defined the body of knowledge relevant for a business psychology class. Essentially, I answered three questions:
1) What aspects of human behavior do business leaders need to understand in order to improve relationships and foster collaboration?
2) What aspects of human behavior do business leaders need to understand in order to influence decision-making?
3) What experiential activities would best suit adult learners needing to better understand and apply human psychology?
Using these questions, I settled on four areas of psychology most relevant to the business leader: social, cognitive, organizational, and educational. I also determined that a high-level of self-awareness was necessary for individuals to adequately analyze and assess situations. Therefore, I decided that an initial unit focused on understanding self was the best place to start. This unit would look at the four focus areas from an individual instead of a collective perspective.
I then used the skills acquired from this MOOC to define the user profile and experience, design the course layout, build out a prototype, identify some basic OER resources, and develop a plan for further design and evaluation post-course completion. I had to do research in each of the areas to identify the best way to engage the user given the MOOC environment. I was particularly interested in:
- How to create interactive case studies
- How to integrate a gaming / social learning aspect
- How to engage participants in applying the skills in their workplace as part of the actual MOOC course.
These considerations informed the initial prototype design.
As a result of participation in this course, I believe I have a solid plan for building a business psychology MOOC. The feedback from instructors and participants has been tremendously helpful in expanding my thinking. There is still a lot of work to do and I still need to secure funding to actual build out the course but I'm excited about its prospects.
The one aspect that I found challenging was forming any type of cohesive team. Because people were participating for a wide variety of reasons and with drastically varying levels of commitment, it was hard to form a team that could see a project through. As noted in some people's comments, they only planned to participate for a few weeks just to get the feel, others just wanted exposure to the tools, while still others wanted to complete the whole course. Sorting through all these motivating factors to find one that matches with yours with the sheer number of participants was quite difficult. I also found the different forums used for chats based on people's preferences confusing as well. It was hard to keep up with which groups were forming. In the end, I opted out of any group discussions except those happening through the cloudscapes set up for that purpose because it was too much to keep up with. If I plan to make project / group work a part of my MOOC (which I do), I think I have to give some additional thought as to ways to make it easier for people but that is still scaleable. I think that's a difficult one.