It’s been an interesting week.
I’ve been making a number of comparisons between #oldsmooc and #moocmooc over the week - the idea being that #moocmooc attempts to push the agenda of having broad and unspecific objectives in mind in order to encourage playful exploration and emergent learning, while #oldsmooc’s videos and readings encourage thoughtful, intentional crafting of curricula and lessons in order to efficiently and deliberately deliver learning outcomes to students.
I read an interesting blog post titled Why I Didn’t Sign Up for #oldsmooc., where the author provides four reasons for why they decided against joining the course, one of which being that he prefers “teaching to designing teaching”. As a scientist and scholar, I can’t bring myself to agree with that statement. This is why - in theory - I like #oldsmooc better.
We formed project teams and allowed the most popular ideas to bubble up. I decided to align myself with the MOOC on Digital Literacy, since I could probably contribute some sort of ideas on “hardware literacy” which I’m doing anyway for other classes. The problem is that the interaction is so scattered that it’s hard to coordinate and collaborate.
One thing that bugs me about Connectivist MOOCs is that group formation is done like it is in Traditional classes. People I like to look at principles of Game Design when I think of MOOCs, and among others, I’ve noticed that there are two types of cooperative play in MMORPGs: long-term and spontaneous.
The best MOOC platform will be one that allows you to identify when your teammates are online and “where” they are. IRC does this very well - if you can create a major hub chat room for the course and then smaller chat rooms for the teams or for the projects, it’s easy to see who happens to be working on what at what time, and whether or not they are your friend.
Though I’m getting distracted now. It gives me some ideas for the webapp that I’m working on, though. I’m hoping that I can make my interaction with #oldsmooc less peripheral.
A low-level and historical MOOC
One of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in my life has been the Raspberry Pi. A low-cost, credit-card sized computer that can be used for anything from OS development to robotics. I got to go to a talk last night where a bunch of local hackers got together and showed us the cool things they’ve done with their Raspberry Pis. At a price of only $35, it would be awesome to see a MOOC that explores low-level computing.
Computers have become so powerful and abstract that many computer scientists can succeed in school without ever understanding what goes on under the hood. Special purpose computers have been replaced by general purpose and consumer hardware, and because there aren’t really jobs for “6502 Assembly Programmers” anymore, you don’t see students signing up for the classes in earnest.
The Change I would like to see?
I want to see a course that addresses these concepts - we introduce them just barely at State with our “Assembly and Software Tools” course, but I want students to explore old computing in more detail. Given the appeal of development on the web and cloud these days, lower level hackery isn’t nearly as glamorous. Development on constrained devices made coders more like wizards, being able to squeeze out amazing things like games in less than 32KB of space. Not only is it interesting in its own right, it helps expose new programmers to the mindset of their predecessors.
What I’m going to do?
I’ve already made up my mind and decided that I want to make a MOOC on this topic. This is how I’m going to do my final project for several of the classes I’m taking this semester, developing resources and infrastructure to support this MOOC on my own, without the help of big powerhouses like Coursera. Even if it doesn’t go worldwide, I just want to be able to expose it to my fellow students at State.
Hi folks! My name is Barry Peddycord III (aka @isharacomix) , and I’m a Ph.D. student at NC State University in Raleigh, NC, USA studying Computer Science and Education! Today I’m actually teaching a class, so I had to miss the discussion for the introductory video.
My objectives in this class (and in many other MOOCs) are social first and content-related second. I’m excited about interacting with other folks here, and even if there are over 1000 participants, if I can get to know just 3 or 4 of you, I’ll be absolutely thrilled. If you’re reading this, I encourage you to subscribe to the RSS feed and engage with me using the “Ask Me Anything” feature. I’m sure this is going to be a great experience for everyone involved!
My objectives for this week:
How will I measure these? By next Wednesday…
Hopefully since this class is stretched out across nine weeks, it won’t be nearly as overwhelming as #moocmooc has proven to be. :)
Today was supposed to be the live launch of the #oldsmooc project. I guess “supposed to be” isn’t very fair, since the event still went on.
I just didn’t get to participate.
A number of technical problems got in the way of my participation in the event. For starters, Cloudscape’s system must have collapsed under the weight of the participants since we started getting database errors as soon as it was time for it to go live. While the stream could also be accessed via Youtube and QuickTime, they quickly reached their capacity as well. Not that it mattered… being a Linux User was particularly troubling, since the Open University’s website decided that I didn’t have quicktime installed, keeping me from participating at all. I would have followed along on the Twitter feed, but with the #oldsmooc hashtag being covered in the complaints of others not being able to connect, I eventually gave up.
I felt really defeated at that point, since I had taken steps to be there for the event, and it ended up ruining my day and making it hard to participate on the #moocmooc google doc. But the wise and ruggedly handsome @slamteacher picked just the right words to describe the situation.
I was probably pretty immature to get so upset, but being a computer scientist, my first instinct when I see a problem is to try and route around it, and that high-speed problem solving is draining. Fixing problems is all well and good, but learning from them is what #moocmooc is trying to teach us all anyway. I suppose that can serve as today’s lesson.
So what did we learn?
The thing about the Internet is that it supports a lot of people. A LOT. It does so because of the basic assumption that all of these people are going to be interacting on a lot of different computers. Even when lots of people log onto a single website like Facebook, they are still logging on to a network of distributed machines, optimized to handle lots of load.
I don’t think the folks at #oldsmooc were fully prepared for this, and I think this is what was being hinted at by @pwikgrimm yesterday… you can’t put all of these people in one space at one time and expect anything reasonable to come from it. While the rhetoric is that MOOCs thrive on Chaos and Anarchy, the truth is that the chaos has to be distributed across space and time for it to be manageable.
A good lesson learned, and proves that today wasn’t a waste after all. :)
Next month I’m going to be participating in #OLDSMOOC, a Massively Open Online Course on Learning Design.
#OLDSMOOC is going to be a little different from the MOOCs you may be familiar with, like Coursera or Udacity. Rather than being focused on online videos, multiple choice questions, and autograded programming projects, #OLDSMOOC follows the model of the original “Connectivist MOOCs”. Differentiated from other offerings as cMOOCs, these types of courses focus on the collaborative nature of the Internet and learning by encouraging students to participate in social media, share information, work together, and take part in a large-scale learning community.
In a way, I really like these types of courses better than the xMOOCs(named after EDx, I presume), as the xMOOCs act more like assembly lines, with a focus on “massiveness”. Being able to spread information to hundreds of thousands of students is awesome, but it’s pretty web 1.0 when you think about it. Web 2.0 is not about multimedia, but about turning consumers into producers and turning the paradigm of who creates content on its head. Now that we have social media, students can be teaching and learning from each other, and that is what MOOCs should be taking advantage of.
We learn best when we learn together. Let’s see if I still believe in that phrase after this 9 week journey.