Tuesday, 5 November 2013

#edcmooc embarkation thoughts

For better or worse, I'm about to embark upon my first MOOC, the "e-learning and Digital Cultures" MOOC (#edcmooc), offered through Coursera by the University of Edinburgh. [Full disclosure: These nice people just happen to be my employers, and I work in the field of learning technology, but any association ends there. I work in a completely different school from the organisers and I don't know any of the "answers", honest ;-)  ]

I'm doing this because I'm interested in technology, digital media and digital culture and I work in education. As someone who has been through (as a student), and worked in, a variety of traditional bricks-and-mortar Universities, I'm fascinated by the potential for the future of learning and teaching, of which MOOCs are just a part.

From the somewhat unfamiliar perspective as a learner, however, I'm sceptical about the prospects for the experience. Can a learner really obtain as rich an experience through watching online videos and tweeting other, similarly remote, students? Can even the best, most innovative online technologies replace the lecture, the seminar, the group work and discussion? Will such a 'Massive' group really make for a clear, focused learning experience?

One of the main advantages of the MOOC format over traditional courses - for the University - is of course cost. And, if I allowed him, the cynic in me could say that in these hard times it's not surprising that Universities are looking for ways to cut costs even further. If MOOCs take off in a big way will I soon be out of a job?

So what are the possibilities and the dangers? Is technology a force for good or evil (or something entirely neutral)? There are a lot of interesting questions that I'm looking forward to exploring.

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