Massive open online courses were never meant to be dull and lonely. But how can the courses encourage more student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction?
By George Lorenzo
In a New York Times feature article headlined “Two Cheers for Web U,” A. J. Jacobs wrote about his experience taking part in some massive open online courses (MOOCs). Among a good number of critical statements about MOOCS in general, Jacobs explained how the lack of teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction in such online courses was probably the most disappointing aspect of his experience. He wanted to be engaged in what he said looked like, at first glance, a dynamic and exiting online learning experience. Instead, he said he was disappointed, finding that professors and students were out of reach and conversations were one-sided, faculty-only affairs.
MOOCs, however, were never meant to be dull and lonely. “A MOOC is not just an online course,” said Professor David Cormier, manager of Web communication and innovations at the University of Prince Edward Island. Cormier first coined the phrase “massive open online courses” in 2008, when he was teaching an online course called “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” at the University of Manitoba along with colleagues Senior Research Fellow Bryan Alexander of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education; George Siemens, associate director, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University; and Stephen Downes, senior researcher at The National Research Council Canada.
The Original Purpose of MOOCs: Connections are Critical
A MOOC is participatory, Cormier explained in a 2010 YouTube video titled “What is a MOOC?” “It is a way to connect and collaborate while developing digital skills. MOOCs are, maybe most importantly, an event around which people who care about a topic can get together and work and talk about it in a structured way.” In a MOOC, part of the goal is to “become part of the course by engaging with other people’s work,” Cormier said.
[ Full article available at Campus Technology: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/09/05/reclaiming-the-original-vision-of-moocs.aspx ]