Reflecting on the first myMOOC

A few months ago I started the myMOOC project (original post), which is basically just my own informal study put online with some structure added to it. I’ve just now finished the ‘first installment’ of it, and consider it a success.

There’s no shortage of MOOC commentary online recently, and perhaps the majority of it seems to focus on the Coursera/Edx/Udacity style MOOCs that are being run by the big universities. These are great, and a lot of the commentary is good reading. It would be a mistake, though, to think that these represent the extent of what MOOCs are and can be. There’s so much instructional design creativity to be explored with this format – which really is just an extension of the modern distance education technologies we have and their affordances to create cultures of learning.

One of the goals of the myMOOC project is to illustrate that MOOCs can come in a variety of styles. This one happens to be run at a very personal scale, but I would still consider it within the realm of a MOOC. It’s Massive in that when I study by myself only one person participates, yet any interaction at all increases the participation at least twofold; It’s Open in that anyone can participate; It’s Online – check; and it’s a Course because I’ve added a bit of structure to it…I’ve made the educational intention explicit and distributed.

I’ve enjoyed the first installment, and feel that having that bit of structure is motivating and has ended up in more learning than had I decided to simply just ‘read some books’. Regardless of the MOOC classification or not, my lifelong learning abilities are more efficient when I do this. I also have more control over my learning this way.

Here’s a few characteristics and random points I’ve noticed so far

  • There wasn’t any overflow of interaction taking place at anytime, but there was enough to be significant. I felt it was efficient interaction, and not socially based interaction but rather content based interaction (if this makes sense) which suits my style, I think. I’ve found a lot of Social Learning I’ve been involved in the past has been more about the Socializing rather than the Learning
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the subsequent installments affect my following, as I think most people got involved because they were interested in books, literature or those specific writes. The next few myMOOCs will be different content. I wonder if there will be any carry-over?
  • Continuing that thought, I decided that there’s no real reason to end any myMOOC – well, I should rephrase that: I think there is a reason to have some sort of ‘official’ end to any installment, because the encapsulation of it is important, however I decided that there’s no real reason to not post on any given past topic in the future if I ever feel the need to.
  • It was time consuming, as there are always other things I need or want to do. This is what made it successful, because had I not bothered to make that small amount of structure and put it online, I’m not sure if I would have read and learned about Japanese Literature as much as I did over the past few months (which was my content goal).

Anyway, I’m going to keep it going, and actually feel my momentum increasing for it (probably because I have more time for my own pursuits these days). One of the aspects I wan to watch out for as I proceed is the tension between doing my own thing and in trying to actively create interaction.

As a side note, the McLuhan Reading Group that I’ve just signed up for is another example of the modern ways that instructional design and lifelong learning can be structured. I’m not sure how popular these types of reading groups are, and to me it seems like another distinctive style of MOOC, if one wished to call it that.

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