I registered as a last minute afterthought for the e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (#edcmooc) on Coursera a couple of weeks ago. I saw the stream of tweets of people excitedly looking forward to this MOOC and thought, “did I miss something?”
Previously, I registered for the Fundamentals of Online Education and Planning (#foemooc) because it was applicable to my work. I also espoused the benefits of MOOCs for our own professional development to my colleagues (and now feel disappointed that their first experience of a MOOC was a negative one), but after the unfortunate turn of events that occurred with this course, I’m now back at #edcmooc and reconsidering if I should have another crack at it.
When the #edcmooc opened its doors, I looked at the menu bar and saw that all the weeks resources were there. I became deflated.
The #edcmooc creates two feelings for me every time I open the resources.
From a high elation, “ooh, look a new video to watch!” [fun] to jaw dropping dread and eye roll every time I click on an academic paper [not so fun] which is met with, ”oh sh–, all these big words, what is this going on about?!”
I also like an element of surprise – sometimes a delay in the satisfaction, dare I say it a bit of a tease – but the course organisers have laid all resources bare which meant that we can go our own pace, do our own thing, do nothing, do all of it, pick at it, jump in, whatever…a total free for all.
Like a ’hippie MOOC’ if you will.
But turn to #foemooc, and this one cracked the whip to get the minions in some semblance of order in discussion forums and with thousands of people salivating to get to the content, they all crowd crushed the Google document and crashed the server.
And then they reacted like an angry mob with pitchforks when it didn’t work!
While I completed the first week readings and activities of #foemooc, I saw what the course organiser was trying to do. I could see her learning strategy and why she chose to do aspects of the course in a certain way. Admittedly, I thought “crikey (I said a stronger word than that), that could have been me. I could easily have made the same mistakes without even knowing it!”
I didn’t get angry, frustrated or annoyed but I did genuinely feel for her.
The reason is that she would have put in many hours to design something that is totally new to her and her team at the university; she probably spent many hours in academic meetings while she and her colleagues deliberated what course was going to be MOOCed, why it would benefit their institution, I’m positive that there were some internal politics and bickering but she gave it ‘her best shot’. For a profession, industry or sector that is going through as much change and soul searching about their future, just as we are in many corporate organisations, I commend her for at least trying.
Sure, we all make mistakes but xMOOCs are simply too new to both participants and course organisers: how are we to know what works and what doesn’t yet?
Why did we immediately judge?
Let’s not forget, the course was free.
I am sure that the course organisers will now revisit their strategy and redesign the course and I will re-register.
Which brings me to my post on the first week’s readings and reflections of #edcmooc. As I mentioned, I see the video, I get elated – I read the readings and I’m ready to slit my wrists.
But there’s no denying it – #edcmooc is making me think so it cannot be ignored.
In the first week reading and viewing of #edcmooc, we were required to watch a few videos and comment on the utopic and dystopic view of technology. The one that made more of an impact to me was the short film called ‘Bendito Machine III’ which told of development in terms of ritual and worship and the implications of fixations and obsessions.
I watched the video last week and all I could think about is our fickleness with the latest gadgetry, technology and fads. Drive around our streets of Melbourne and see discarded television sets on the nature strips waiting to be picked up by the council hard rubbish collection because people are buying thinner, sleeker digital televisions.
But I had to watch the film again this week because this time around, the irony wasn’t lost on me that we could use the same analogy with what happened with the #foemooc. The MOOC can be the symbol of the ‘new shiny object’ that everyone admires and capitulates to, but one small glitch, the crowd gets unhappy and tosses it off the cliff – and goes back to #edcmooc.
A part of me felt like I was following that crowd that tossed #foemooc over the side of the cliff (albeit begrudgingly). Maybe I was one of those people in the back, trying to put some calm in people unsuccessfully yelling out over the hordes, “yeah but at least she tried!” but the crowd overcame me.
In life, it’s beginning to feel that way – the pressure to keep up, have the latest gadgets, follow the trends and be the crowd…
And that…unsettled me.