This post was inspired by George Siemens post on Who are MOOCs for? Confused personal thoughts. In his post, George mentions that in creating MOOCs he hasn't really considered who the courses are for? Rather, he puts the course out there and allows anyone interested to join in.
That got me wondering, do we need to do a needs analysis, and what the implications are of not doing one? I think that bringing together experts for conversations is definitely a valuable activity, but if you haven't thought about your target audience, then how do you know what level to talk to? That got me thinking that, if we don't do a needs analysis or at least think about who our target audience is, then aren't we just presenting to ourselves? Or clones of ourselves? That is, we are expecting that the audience shares the same characteristics as we have ourselves. Might that be why those who are successful at MOOCs are highly independent learners? Because the hosts of MOOCs are also high independent learners and the courses are built without intentional consideration for the target audience?
In the first MobiMOOC paper (being published as part of the Conference Proceedings at mLearn), we mention a desire to see more participation from BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) as well as sub-sahara Africa. If we really want to see more participation from these areas, should be not be involving people from these areas in the design of our MOOCs? Perhaps bringing in some collaborators from the areas we wish to see more participation? The involvement at an organizational and design level will most definitely make the MOOC more dynamic and interesting – perhaps even make it more attractive to people from different cultures and from different socioeconomic classes too!
George – thanks for kicking off the blogging. I'm happy to be MOOCing again 🙂