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Lesley's learning journey, 12th January 2012

Beginnings: packing the trunk

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Lesley Shield
12 January 2013

MOOCs are big in many senses. Given that I firmly believe that it's important to have experience of any learning tool before designing materials that include these tools, I saw OLDS-MOOC as a good opportunity to find out more about MOOCs and, maybe, about how they work and why they're different from a multi-user PLE (personal learning environment). 

How's it been so far? Frustrating. I've spent a lot of time trying to find things, find out about things, find out why I need to find out about things. From what I've read, both here and elsewhere, this is not an uncommon experience with MOOC, or, indeed with any learning technology. Structured VLEs have the same effect; I've lost count of the number of times students have asked me whether they should post to a forum, a blog, a wiki or make a pod/vodcast. And that's when the structure is fairly rigid! Well, it's going to be an adventure. I hope I'm not gong to have to switch off the laptop/tablet and take long walks thinking lovely thoughts too often.

So, my learning objectives (or maybe  mean 'outcomes') for this week:

  1. Find my way round the MOOC. It's an amorphous mass/mess at present. I'd like some navigation aids. Something as simple as a graphical representation of the MOOC on OLDS-MOOC homepage would be really helpful. My sense of direction is good, but I have to be shown the way the first time I go somewhere, even if I never need any help again.
  2. Begin to work out what MOOCs allow that other technologies don't. It feels very much like a multi-user PLE at the moment and the question that's hovering right now is, 'Is that it? Is that all there is to it?' Maybe it is. But I'd like to know.
  3. Identify a project that I actually want to design. The problem I have with being told to think of my dream project now is much the same as I had in 1992 when I took the MSc in IT and Learning at Lancaster University. For the Open Learning module, we were told we could do whatever we wished, using whichever medium we wished. A large, youngish man at the back of the room said, 'Oh aye? I'll be embroidering a quilt then.' That's comes to mind every time I'm given the 'freedom' to choose. Again, I'd l ike a bit more structure at the moment; I'm not saying that there's nothing I want to do, but I really want more time to find out about others' interests before committing myself to anything. What if it turns out that I violently disagree with their approach? Well, that's the thing about collaboration, isn't it? Compromise... Or is it?
  4. Spend some time thinking about collaboration. How collaborative is collaboration? Is it really likely to lead to more innovation than comes about working alone? I wonder. Too early to consider whether I've made any progress on that. We'll see.
So, the first weekend sees me asking more questions than defining learning objectives for myself. Maybe my learning objective for this week is to define questions I want to consider over the lifetime of OLDS-MOOC. 


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