The Inverse MOOC

12 Mar

By Allison Dulin Salisbury

The primary function of most MOOCs today is the dissemination of knowledge to the world. What would it look like if the opposite were true? What if MOOCs convened communities and individuals to focus on co-creation rather than dissemination? This fall Davidson College partnered with Middlebury College and OpenIDEO, a collaborative platform where people come together to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. We came together to pilot what I call an “Inverse MOOC,” where the MOOC is flipped from a content delivery platform to a community of inquiry.

Over the past six years OpenIDEO has hosted a dynamic set of  challenges in partnership with large stakeholders such as USAID, The Clinton Global Initiative, Mayo Clinic, The White House and AARP, among others.

Each challenge starts with a broad question, such as: How might we all maintain well being and thrive as we age? Or, How might communities lead the rapid transition to renewable energy? These challenges engage thousands of people from communities around the world, sometimes leveraging interactive voice response (accessible with a basic cell phone) to get stories from all over, even from places without access to the Internet.

A New Challenge

After 18 very rewarding months spent creating MOOCs on the edX platform, I was given the opportunity to dive into an alternative method of digital learning at scale when Davidson piloted a 10-week human centered design curriculum in conjunction with an OpenIDEO Challenge. The question: How might parents in low income communities ensure children thrive in their first five years? A small group of Davidson students — the Davidson Design Fellows — worked through three phases, including Research, Ideas and Refinement, with a focus on the City of Charlotte.

1. In the Research phase, students experienced the value of getting out of the classroom to talk to people, of humanizing these complex issues through face-to-face experiences. They learned to conduct interviews and focus groups with parents, stakeholders, innovators and experts. They shadowed organizations working with parents from low-resourced communities, such as childcare centers, home care providers and ESL adult education centers. They developed global context for the challenge through formal, peer-reviewed research. And through weekly workshops, students reflected on how to develop empathy — how to listen without judgment and avoid assumptions based on intuition.

[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: ]

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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in Best Practices, MOOCs in the News


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