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Darren Gash OLDSMOOC week 1 reflection

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Darren Gash
16 January 2013

I was initially very enthusiastic about enrolling on OldsMooc – I’ve already been tasked over the next few months to review and recommend suitable Instructional models for course design and development that staff at Surrey University can adopt for building their modules on the VLE and creating online activities. I’d also just had a preliminary chat the day before the launch with module leaders about redesigning a module to enhance the current blended option and convert it to a fully online option at a later date. As well as a desire to have a go at completing a MOOC and taking part in a fully online course (I’ve only done blended so far) the motivation to not only enrol on oldsmooc but also stick it out to the bitter end was definitely there. The rationale was there and I was raring to go

That initial motivation was seriously knocked by the technical glitches affecting the live broadcast of the launch lecture. This wasn’t a good first impression  - besides I’m not sure what value was added by running it live, bearing in mind the (lack of) resources required to do this professionally. Perhaps resources would have been better employed creating a well-produced introductory video that people could watch in their own time, with some synchronous chat/asynchronous forum as a follow up for people to discuss?

I’ve also, as have many others it seems, found the usability of the MOOC’s design problematic, with its variety of independent platforms that don’t integrate very well. For any online course to be successful, for digital visitors and residents alike, the technology has to be transparent – the course has to have the affordances so that the important things, i.e. the materials and activities, are easily found and inter-connected. I’ve found it difficult to get past the technology this week and feel I’ve spent a lot of unproductive time as a result – I’m still not comfortable with yet. This reminds me of a comment made during the Converge live discussion, where someone asked if MOOCs contributed to the digital divide. Well, if the access and organisation is poorly implemented then yes I suppose this is the case. You need something akin to a well- designed school building with a properly planned layout and signposting so you can find your classroom quickly without getting lost and turning up late. I’d seriously think about using Moodle,Coursesites or some other freely available dedicated VLE for running these kinds of initiative in future – I think the user experience (with the right design of course) will be far better and  you’re more likely to retain students until the bitter end.

Anyway, I‘ve managed to stick it out so far and once this post is published I should be able to claim my first badge :-)

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Meg Colasante
5:00am 17 January 2013

Hi Darren,

Because I agree with most of what you have said here in your reflections, and yet I have chosen not to express this in my own reflections (not yet posted but half written and already too wordy), I thought I'd just signal my agreeance in a comment here.

However, I will counter this with two thingies:

1. As things can go a little off the track technologically - even for those well experienced - we can be kinder to ourselves when things don't go to plan, and more empathetic to our students when they are technologically frustrated. Back-up plans and a bit of flexibility for students really helps smooth the waters, something Steve Rowe, Southern Cross Uni (Australia), strongly advocate regarding web conferencing (Elluminate/Bb Collaborate)

2. In the Converge recording (which I could watch the recording of, cf the launch which I couldn't), Josh et al did emphasise that the MOOC environment is emerging and not yet mature. Therefore, eventually later versions will likely work at a different level, possibly with thanks to generously honest experiences shared such as yours.


Darren Gash
1:30pm 17 January 2013

thanks for your comments Meg. Clearly there'll be many lessons learned in terms of the structure and underlying technology used for Olds Mooc, and i'm sure future ones will run much smoother. Having said that I do think that, taking into account the existing knowledge and experience of online learning - what works, what doesn't work etc - some of the problems that have occured could have been avoided or at least mitigated. Perhaps the MOOC has simply been a victim of its own success, in terms of numbers of participants that weren't factored into the design? Your point regarding web conferencing is a good one, i.e. the importance of a back up plan. more importantly planning in anticipation of problems at the start, e.g. getting students to check their headsets are working prior to the session, agreeing on communication protocols etc. BTW if you're interested in learning design for web conferencing applications, there's an OLDSMOOC study group that Daniel Staemler has set up, which i've joined. The link is:



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