What drives MOOC design #wweopen13 #elearn

On Monday I attended the MOOC symposium – a pre conference day all about MOOCs at eLearn. I found that at times people were almost religious about their preference or opinions about MOOC types – with the xMOOCers often questioning the “massiveness” of cMOOCs, and the cMOOCers question whether xMOOCs were just didactic content presentation. 

I was also introduced to a new “type” of MOOC, a pMOOC – which is one based upon problem-based learning pedagogy. It occurred to me that the Design Thinking Action lab MOOC that I attended this summer was this type of MOOC. It involved about 5 minutes of video presentation per week and then a series of challenges. This was much more a MOOC where you need to actively do something in order to learn and receive the certificate, rather than the passive, watch the video do the test model.

Regarding MOOC design, what occurred to me is are we asking the wrong question? are we getting caught up in the hype and logistics of running MOOCs, such that we are missing the new pedagogy?

This reminds me a little of the learning styles debates – is knowing or believing that people have different learning styles valuable for teachers? Should learning styles affect pedagogy? My opinion on this is no. I think that the content should dictate the pedagogy. It all depends on what you are teaching and what you are expecting/hoping your learners learn. So content should drive the learning design rather than learning styles.

One thought that I’d like to put forward about MOOC design is that the content should be the driver for good MOOC design. If you are wanting to explore a new topic by sharing stories/experiences with others, then a cMOOC makes sense – especially if there is no “right” answer to the questions that arise. If you are looking to teach a specific skill or ensure learners have specific baseline knowledge, then an xMOOC might be a good idea. If you want to teach critical thinking or creative thinking, then maybe a pMOOC model makes sense.

I’m happy to see that more models are emerging – I just don’t like the concept of trying to fit all learning into a single model, as if there were only one “right” way to do a MOOC.

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