MOOCs and ME : Not So Fast



I looked back at the blog I posted at the end of September on MOOCs. I was having a hard time understanding how this type of learning would be possible in my classroom because I couldn’t quite
“wrap my head around it”. Those were the words I actually used. I believe my confusion was substantiated when I read the articles for this assignment. I don’t believe MOOC style learning is suited for the students I teach and perhaps not even for most high school level students who don’t demonstrate a self-regulated learning attitude. This is definitely the place where a student has to self-monitor to be successful. I can see how it can be a place to meet for helpful information in a class that a student may be taking at the time, as an extension or resource to aid in a hybrid or traditional classroom setting.

Two of the principles of connectivism that I walked away with define why my course cannot be a MOOC. First of all, nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning. At a seventh grade level, this is a definite necessity in the learning process. Secondly, learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions. In a MOOC, a student can read thousands of others’ opinions, but it will, at some point, become overwhelming. It is not a true connection unless there is a conversation in which sharing and possibly debating information is carried out between a couple or small group of individuals. There most likely won’t be a response from an instructor in these cases. The theory of connectivism is necessary in my module.

Constructivism lends itself more to adult learners as well. Depending on the topic, students completing my module will not have a lot of background knowledge already. They will after the fact, but they cannot apply anything except what they have learned in our core content area before beginning the module. As I have stated, seventh graders are not slr, but at this point, I can begin to push them in that direction.

I took an online learning class last year at University of La Verne for my history recertification points. I purchased two hard-back books, read them, answered questions online that were basically word for word from the reading with blanks (clozed notes) and at the end I had to write an essay about one of the books. I am assuming it could be a MOOC course because it is offered to teachers everywhere. However, I had no idea how many other students were in the class. There could have been a thousand or more, or I could have been the only one. I guess my point is that it was a MOOC or designed like one and I had absolutely no one to talk to, I only got feedback on my questions after I finished them and it was an electronic response showing my grade. I did have a question about how to find something on the site and had to submit it through a “help” link. After about four or five hours, I got a response. I am old. I have been teaching for twenty years, so this style of learning, although not as much fun, was a successful experience for me as far as gaining my recertification points. I loved the topic and the readings were great, but it would have been nice to have someone to share it with. I received a grade report and I was finished. I had a need to complete the course which is what was driving me to finish it. Most students, unless it is counting towards something they really need or want, and sometimes not even then, will find it is a difficult process to learn this way for a complete course.

My module is not set up this way. First of all, it is a hybrid setting. I interact with my students and they interact with each other. There is peer work and teacher feedback. I couldn’t even imagine having to leave feedback for thousands of students or trying to keep up with all of the conversations that I am trying to closely monitor through my class. So, could ANY of it be incorporated, I think so. Following the websites, doing the readings and recording notes can be carried out. After that, no. Students will utilize their notes to create a written piece which needs to be peer-edited and I need to be available to communicate with them and give them feedback if they ask for it. That is their motivation—the peer/teacher/student connection.

I gleaned this from another article about MOOCs and their use which backs up my theory that it wouldn’t be a successful way for me to teach my content online–“…by either as the scaling of centralised and identical instruction to unprecedented numbers of students or the opportunity for self-directed learning, in which large participant numbers are understood as providing the means to construct knowledge independently of teachers and institutions.” (Rodriguez 2012, 2013)


Final Thoughts: A MOOC is a good concept to get information to students who are searching for it, but the learning experience, to me, gets lost in the crowd.

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