Design Reflections on #OpenEdMOOC

I can’t help but be critical of the #OpenEdMOOC, Introduction to Open Education, hosted by edX. With as much excitement that was generated by the Open Community prior to the start of the MOOC, I feel that we were let down by Week 3 of the course. Here’s a recap of my critique by week…

  1. Week 1: Why Open Matters.
    • We started off with a BANG! and excitement was in the air, or least for me it was. Our Twitter hashtag was very active, learners were posting in course discussion forums who they are and why they are interested in participating and we were individually blogging about our niche in the Open community. Here’s what I shared at the end of the week, Applying OER to Design.
    • We learned foundational knowledge of OER and enjoyed an informal, casually-staged interview of the course instructors, David Wiley and George Siemens.
    • After viewing the course content, we were dropped off into supportive and relevant external content, including a few odd videos (something about a large cookie and a screencast with a distracting desktop background of what looked like planet Mars) from other OER evangelists.
    • Though I was engaged with the content, I was easily distracted by the looseness and the misalignment of the resources. A summary, instructor commentary or simple instructions on how this curated work was collected, vetted, and aligned to the lesson outcomes would have gone a long way. For example, there was an external content page with a video and the following text written at the bottom of the screen, “I discuss the importance of openness and the role it plays in knowledge, communication and learning.” Who is “I” and why should I watch his screencast?
    • By the end of the lesson, we received a course announcement encouraging us to share our blogs and summarizing course content to prepare us for the next lesson.
  2. Week 2: Copyright, the Public Domain and the Commons
    • With the announcement generating me to remain engaged and motivated in the course, I watched the next set of informal, casually-staged interviews about the dystopian, copyright regime. It was quite interesting and I enjoyed David’s and George’s perspectives.
    • Realizing that the course structure would include interviews followed by a series of loosely aligned resources, I began to skim and select the most meaningful resources to my interest and practice.
    •  Since I didn’t pay for the course, I remained active by blogging end of lesson reflections, Stewards of Sharing, and joining the conversation on Twitter.
  3. Week 3: The 5R’s, CC, and Open Licensing
    • I almost missed this lesson! We failed to receive  additional course announcements from the instructors for the remainder of the course. This was pretty concerning. How are learners to stay engaged in the MOOC (which is already hard considering its a MOOC) when it appears that no one is facilitating or engaging the dialogue? Did I have a different experience because I didn’t pay for the full version of the course?
    • Same interview style, same clothing, and same room to deliver content. However, the 5R’s is where David Wiley really shines. Again I was engaged with the content, but the design of this course began to weigh on me. Anyway, I still took some time to reflect and post in my blog, Awareness of the aaRRRRRgh’s.
    • Also, there was some weird coding and formatting issues in the course LMS. I’m not sure if there was course update or if there were issues with my access. Either way, it was hard to navigate Wiley’s keynote address video.
  4. Week 4: Creating, Finding, and Using OERs
    • At this point, we were mid-way through the course. According to the syllabus, we were to have a metacognitive reflection on processes and engage in OER evangelism on our campus’. Even though I did both, I’m not sure we had enough course substance to begin advocating for OER. It’s challenging to go from foundational knowledge building to articulating practice in 2-3 weeks.
    • Same interview style, same clothing, and same room to deliver content. Maybe mix it up and put in a green screen?
    • The most value I had in this lesson was reading other’s blogs and resources, specifically on “Open Pedagogy”. I began to rely on the Open community to keep me motivated to complete the course.
  5. Week 5: Research on OER Impact and Effectiveness
    • Blah, blah, blah.
    • So, this lesson I took the least amount of notes.
    • I stopped watching the videos. Instead, I read the transcripts.
    • Change your clothes! Change the background of your interviews! Maybe go to the bar and talk about OER research design over a few beers…This is a crazy 6-week long, marathon interview!
    • Did the instructors forget about this course? No reminder or check-in announcements?
    • Hello, is anyone out there?
  6. Week 6: The Next Battle for Openness: Data, Algorithms and Competency Mapping 
    • By the end of the course we were to create a OER-module with only OER resources. While I took this course, I have been working on 2 course revisions. I revised an entire course with OER resources, but I’m not sure that I was able to do that from taking this MOOC. Of course, I learned the value of OER, but to go from foundational knowledge to articulation to practice within 6-weeks is a bit of a stretch with the materials and resources presented, especially if you are new to OER.
    • Lesson 6 talks about the future of OER in terms of big data, and the course ends there. Where do we go from here? It seems that lesson 6 is a huge topic, and not specifically aligned to the course outcomes. Hmmmm. I love learning analytics and data, to discuss a mash-up of OER and data was a dream come true… maybe a new MOOC?
    • If data needs to be open and transparent, I beg to ask, will we see the data on this MOOC? How much effort and energy was created in blog or twitter communication? What were the activity levels generated by students in this MOOC? Did activity levels drop off with the lack of course announcements? What were our most discussed topics? Did we form our own network? Will we continue the conversation?

I would love to hear feedback from the rest of the participants in this MOOC. I realize that MOOC are design challenges within themselves. However, after successfully completing 5 other MOOCs, I feel that this particular course has a lot of opportunity to improve. What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Design Reflections on #OpenEdMOOC

  1. Hey Rebecca – as the instructional designer for the course, thank you for the feedback. I wasn’t aware that instructor communication had dropped off so much, but I will be sure to bring that up at the course review meeting next week as it should have happened. I also share your concern about the videos, but that is something we are looking into improving in the future as we push our University to create some video editing/production facilities (there currently are none). I wasn’t part of the video process, but I believe they were filmed on one day in one location due to scheduling difficulties between two high profile instructors.

    I do know that the instructors want to make the data open, but please keep in mind that is a process we have to figure out. Some of what you ask about the data just simply doesn’t exist in the data. Then, a lot of what is collected is not available to us from various platforms. From what we can collect, that will need to be collected by someone, and made available in some kind of format that can be shared, because just dumping raw data as a download won’t be helpful to people that aren’t data analysts. For it to be truly “open” data, we will need to get it in some format that makes sense to the average person who would look at it. All of this takes time and resources, and someone with data skills that has a lot of time to do it. We still need to figure all of that out, and we still have two other MOOCs currently running. I am pretty sure it will happen, but the specifics of how it will happen still need to be worked out 🙂

    1. Hi Matt – appreciate the time you took to respond to Rebecca’s post. I was also a part of the Open Ed MOOC and I share some of the concerns articulated here. I understand the resource constraints that may be involved with providing an analysis of data, but I bet that if you dumped the raw data on the community, more than one person would jump at the chance to dig into it. You would be amazed at the tenacity of some of these Open Ed MOOC participants! We would appreciate the opportunity if it is available. Thanks!

      1. Hello Lena – I have no doubts people would do great things with the data, having witnessed that in several MOOCs in the past. However, since that data would contain identifiable information in the discussion post content, there are ethical concerns putting raw data like that out in the open without consent from everyone. Plus. as a state entity, we have several legal requirements to follow with the handling of any data, even after obtaining consent. I would love it if the data was something that could simply be downloaded, zipped up, and put up for download in a few steps, but past experience has taught us that it is not always that simple of a process. We will work on it and do everything we can, within ethical and legal boundaries that is 🙂

  2. Hi Lena and Rebecca, we appreciate your candid feedback. As Matt mentioned, we plan to discuss how this first MOOC ran and how to adjust going forward. Thanks for sticking through to the end and I hope that you were able to get some good things from the course.

  3. This was pretty ironic for me. MOOCs are the only educational space where instructors and institutions are comfortable with the “Set It and Forget It” model of teaching. Despite everything that we have learned about what makes for a successful online class, all the rules change when it comes to MOOCs. As an instructor who has worked in developmental education and education support my whole life, that model seems like a huge step backwards.

  4. Well, such is the nature of MOOCs – very diverse groups of learners that all want different things. Some have said there was too much instructor presence, and they would have preferred a self-paced course, others say there was not enough presence and it was too much of a “set it and forget it.” The question becomes: which learner voice do we listen to when they are opposite of each other? Do we listen to those that want the “set it and forget it”, or those that want more interaction? The one true thing we do know from research is that all learners are unique, and that there isn’t such thing as a “one right way” or even a set of “best practices” that works for all learners. Setting a course up one way diminishes other learners’ voices, but setting it up the way those learners want will diminish others, and so on and so forth.

    Of course, I am not a fan of “best practices” that attempt to set up a narrow view of what makes for a successful online class, so my bias is probably showing here. I disagree with framing the “set it and forget” course design as a step backwards, when there are many learners that prefer that course design for various reasons. I personally probably disagree with those reasons quite often, but who I am I to say that they are automatically wrong just because I disagree? That is just situating myself as the “sage on the stage” in a different manner.

    I would point out the goals set out on the OpenEdMOOC sign-up page: this was a course designed for people that are new to Open Education, to focus on an “introduction” as the course title points out – not an exhaustive exploration of every topic, or a way to get people that already know about open education re-ignited about the topic. Ultimately, with a tight 6 week timeline, the instructors had to focus. I personally think they covered too much in 6 weeks and probably should have shaved off a few topics per week.

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