Saturday, January 26, 2013

Have you been MOOC-ed yet?

I recently enrolled for a MOOC course offered by Coursera called Elearning and Digital Cultures #edcmooc. While I have designed and developed several online training interventions for various organizations, this will be my first 'formal' learning experience as a student of an online course delivered using the MOOC platform. The course officially starts in 2 days. However, the flurry of activities has been going on for the last 2 months - google plus, facebook group, twitter, blog RSS feeds, spaces, Pinterest etc are just some of the many options that have been devised by the participants to connect and learn together. I am excited about the course and I am looking forward to broaden my learning horizons and bring back into my training design some of the best practices of online learning.

But for now, I am just thinking about all these platforms/groups/spacesAs I scroll through the messages on the Facebook group - one of the many options to connect, this is the word cloud that is generating before my eyes:

To me, this is a reflection of what Barry Schwartz calls 'the paradox of choice'. In his talk, Barry says," With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all".
I agree. 
For this particular MOOC course, participants are from all over the world (last information source said - over 260,000 sign-ups to date). This wide variety of audience has a varying degree of comfort and competency with respect to online learning and/or online collaboration tools/platforms. While some of us have been blogging, using twitter and google+, wikispaces for a while, for so many this will be their first experience of online learning and collaboration. Given that the course did not have any pre-requisite (though it did encourage participants to explore various social learning platforms), it is an overwhelming stage for the technologically and/or the socially-challenged. My advice to everyone faced with unlimited choice is to choose what is most comfortable for you. In this particular case, the facebook group is perhaps going to be the easiest to use for many. 

Having said that, participating in a MOOC course will probably help everyone explore other options that were previously out of their comfort zone. So, it is going to be learning before 'the' learning. And that is good. Perhaps some participants are feeling disillusioned and overwhelmed right now but this phase will pass. Consider the MOOC course to be a platform for learning and collaborating not only about the course content but also learning about learning itself. 

More on my experience with MOOC will come later. For now, I know I have been MOOC-ed!