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What MOOCs can do for the Traditional Online Classroom (Part

II)
ApostolosKoutropoulos

Introduction
2014isuponus!WearenowacoupleofyearsfromthebigMOOCexplosioninthenews,and
sincewevegonetobothextremes,toomuchoptimismandtoomuchpessimism,aboutwhat
MOOCscanandcantdo,itsnowtimetohaveamorerefinedlookatMOOCsandtheir
potentialtocrosspollinatewith,andpositivelyinfluencethedirection,andpractices,of
traditionalonlinecourses.

Aswiththepreviousarticleinthisseries,IlljustrefertoMOOCsingeneral.Thereasonforthis
isthatMOOCsareexperimental,andweveseenalotofexperimentingoverthelifespanof
MOOCsthesepastsixyears.TheseincludecMOOCs,xMOOC,pMOOCs,sMOOCs,andother
MOOCsthathaveyettobenamed.Itsnowtimetostartthinkingaboutwhatcanbestbe
borrowedfromMOOCpracticesintotraditionalonlinelearning.Aswiththepreviousarticle,
whenthinkingaboutthistopic,therearethreedifferentareas:materials,technology,and
practices.InthisarticleIlldiscussbloggingandtweetingas
technology
and
materials,
easter
eggsas
practices
,OpenCommunities,as
practices
supportedbytechnology,andcollaborative
researchasawaytotieeverythingtogether.

Easter Eggs
IdontseeeastereggsofteninMOOCs,butIthinkitsworthwhiletothinkaboutincorporating
thisfeatureintocourses.An
EasterEgg
isahiddenmessage,ahiddenjoke,orsomehidden
treasureinagame,software,orcomputerprogramandapparentlyitsalsofoundinbooksand
crosswords,too!TheGamificationMOOC,offeredthroughtheUniversityofPennsylvaniaon
Coursera,hadaneastereggthroughoutthecourse.Whenthecourseinstructorcreatedhis
weeklylectureshisbackgroundtrinketschanged.Thosewhowereobservantnoticedthatthe
changesspelledoutftw(orforthewinforthoseintheknow).Therewasaprizeforthefirst
persontodecodethisEasterEggwhichwasafreecopyoftheprofessorsbook,alsonamed
ForTheWin
.Now,asaninstructorordesigneryoudontneedneedtobreakthebankawarding
prizesforyourlearners.IfyoutieinEasterEggsintoabadgesystemyoucanhavesecret
badgesthatlearnersdontknowaboutuntiltheyunlockthese.Badgescanalsobeunique,in
thatonlyonelearnerinaclassoftwentycanearnthatbadgeineachsemester,thusgivingthe
badgetothepersonwhofirstdiscoveredthehiddenfeature.Whatcouldbeaneasteregg?

Apotentialeastereggelementthatyoucanincorporatecouldbearoundadditionalor

supplementalreadings.Noteverylearnerwillgothroughthesupplementalreadings,butthey
arethereforareason:youhopethatstudentswillread,orview,orlistentowhatyouhave
posted.Whatifyouputinasmallpieceoftextinanarticlethatdirectedlearnerstoemailthe
professorwithakeyword?Or,whatifyoutieintoyourLMSsanalyticstoseewhowasthefirst
persontoclickandviewarecordingthatwentaboveandbeyondtheclass?Or,youcanbelike
Dr.Werbach,inthegamificationcourse,anddosomethingmorecovert,butalsosustained
throughouteveryweek,tohelpyourlearnerspaycloserattentiontoyourpresentations.Some
learnerswillcareabouttheseelementsofgamification,butotherswillnot.Justbecausethis
doesnotnecessarilyappealtoalllearnersdoesnotmeanthatyoushouldnttrytoincrease
engagementbyusingthisapproach.Onethingtorememberisthatsomethingswillresonate
morewithsomelearnersthanothers.Ifasetofactionsthatresultinthediscoveringofan
easteregginyourcourseisoptionalthenthereisnoissuewithhavingalllearnerspartakeinan
activitythatdoesntresonatewiththem.Furthermore,pairingeastereggswithbadgesisone
wayofencouragingcuriosityandexplorationamongstyourlearners.

Blogging, Tweeting & Distributed Learning


Again,blogging,tweetinganddistributedlearningarenotsomethingthatisnewtoMOOCs.
EversincetheadventofWeb2.0wevebeenthinkingaboutwaystoincorporatethesetoolsinto
ourteachinginordertoincreasetheengagementinourclassrooms.Oneoftheearlyexamples
ofthiswasusingtwitterinafacetofaceclasstoengagestudentsinalargeauditoriumlecture
(Smith,2009,Elavskyetal.,2011).OneofthethingsdonewellincertainMOOCsisproviding
forspacesoutsideoftheclassroomandthecoursediscussionforumtodemonstratenotonlyan
evolvingunderstandingofthecoursematerials,butalsowaysofcollaboratingand
communicatingwithothersinthecourse.ByusingtoolssuchasgRSShopper,atoolusedin
CCK11forexample,ortoolssuchaswordpresstoaggregateblogposts,tweets,andother
contentcreatedbylearnersintheirownlearningspacesbackintothecourse,youare
encouraginglearnerstotakealeapandstartthinkingaboutlearninginspacesoutsideofthe
classroom.InotherwordspreparingforlifelonglearninginPersonalLearningEnvironments.

Anotherimportantaspectofthisishavingtheinstructorbepresentintheseenvironmentsas
well.InthinkingoftheCommunityofInquirymodel(Anderson,Rourke,Garrison,&Archer,
2001),itsimportantfortheinstructornotonlytoreadandreacttothecontributionsofhisclass,
butalsotowritepubliclyaboutthetopicsthatthecourseistackling.Thus,theinstructorisnt
confinedtotheregularrolesof
sageonthestage,
or
guideontheside,
butalsotakesonthe
roleoffellowpassengeronthelearningjourney.Afterall,evenifsomeoneisteachingthe
course,thatdoesnotmeanthattheyknoweverythingabouteverysingleaspectofthecourse.
Thus,theirexplorationofthesubjectmatterhelpsthemasinstructors,andhelpstheirlearners
reachforhigherlevelsofmasteryinthesubjectmatter.Iwouldlikenthistomasterspracticing
theircraft,andapprenticeslearningfromit.

Open Community
EvenifyourcourseisntaMOOC,thereissomethingthatyoucouldtakeadvantageof:alarge

scalecommunityofsupport!AgoodexampleofthisisAlecCouros
EC&Icourse
.Youcan
eitheropenthecourseuptononcreditparticipants,oryoucaninviteNetworkMentorstohelp
thelearnersinyourcourse.Or,ofcourse,youcandobothasAlecCourosdoes.Now,itshould
benotedthatthisdoesntworkforallsubjects,andsomecourses,astheyarecurrently
designed,dontnecessarilyscaleupverywell.TheFundamentalsofOnlineEducationMOOC
(#foemooc)foundthisoutthehardway(Kolowich,2013).However,havingoutofclassmentors
participateinthediscussions,providefeedbacktowardstudentsprojects,andprovidecurrent
realworldexamplestowhateveriscoveredinthecourseinanygivenweekisabigbenefitto
thelearnersinthecourse.Thebigquestion,then,becomeswhatsinitforthementors?It
wouldseemlikegood,olfashioned,altruism,isnotnecessarilythenormthesedays.

Onepotentialwaytoapproachthisistohaveintroductoryandadvancedlevelstudentsinone
course.Theadvancedstudentswouldhavetakenthecoursebefore,sothattheywouldhave
alreadybeenexposedtotheintroductorymaterial.Inadditiontogoingoverthematerial,and
gettingasecondchanceatthinkingaboutthecontent,andsharingthatknowhowwiththe
introductorystudents,theseadvancedstudentswouldhaveaccesstomaterialsthatareonly
availabletothem.Thiscouldbethoughtofingametermsaslevel2.Thus,forcollegecredit
purposes,anindependentstudycoursecouldbedevisedforthehandfulofformerstudentswho
actasmentorsinthecourseinthefuture.Aletterofrecommendationcouldbeniceifthe
mentorsdoagoodjobearningbadgesforlifelonglearningforskillssuchassupervisedcourse
facilitationandmentoringandforthosePhDcandidates,suchpracticemightcounttoward
teacherpreparationworkshopsthattheymightneedtodo.Ifyoudesignyourcoursewell,and
takeintoaccountscalabilityissues,youmightbeabletoofferanopenaccesscourseaswell.
Herelearnersgettolearnnotonlyfromthematerialsyouprovide,butfromthediverse
experiencesoftheirfellowpeers.

Collaborative Research & Collaborative Writing


Finally,collaborativeresearchandcollaborativewritingcanbesomethingthatyouincorporate
intoyourcourse.Generally,thisisntsomethingIveseenbuiltintoMOOCs,butratheritsa
happybyproductofmassiveopenonlinecollaborationsthatoccurinaMOOC.InMOOCsIve
discoveredindividualswhoseresearchinterestsfolloworcomplementmyown,sowevehad
verysuccessfulpostMOOCresearchcollaborations.Twoofthesegreatindividualsarefellow
coauthorssuchasIngedeWaardandRebeccaHogue.Thesetypesofcollaborationsaregreat
becausenotonlydoyougettolearnmoreaboutaspecificsubjectbycollaboratively
researchingaboutit,youalsogettoattainnewlevelsofunderstandingbyworkingwithpeople
whoknowsomethingaboutthingsyoudont.Thesetypesofpeerscaffoldingcanbeseen
throughthelensofVygotskysMoreKnowledgeableOther(Vygotsky,1978).

IntherecentVideoGamesandLearningMOOConcourseraSteinkuhlerandSquireasked
participantsintheMOOCtocontributetoaprojectcalledthePlayfulLearningdatabase.
Collaborativeresearchdoesnthavetobeaboutpapers.Rather,agroupofstudentsinacourse
cancontributetoprojectlikePlayfulLearningorwikipediabypickingtopicsthatarerelatedto
theclasstheyarein,butalsointersecttopicsthattheyareinterestedin.


Again,thisisnotnecessarilyanoptioninallcourses,butinupperlevelundergraduatecourses
andgraduatecoursesitsainterestingthingtothinkaboutaddingintoyourcourse.Oneofthe
biggestthingsthatIhearstudentscomplainalotaboutisgroupwork,andresearchisnt
somethingthatisneatlytiedtogetherinonesemesterstime,orfits100%withthecontentofthe
course.Howdoesonebalanceacademicschedulesandpeoplesdislikeofgroupwork?
Perhapscertainincentiveslikebeingabletopublishinapeerreviewedjournalthatonlyaccepts
collaborativeresearchcouldbeanoption.Or,perhapsofferinglocalorregionalconferencesfor
studentstopresenttheirworkamongpeersandestablishedresearchers.Ofcourse,thereis
alwaysthepossibilitythatstudentswillfeelgoodaboutcontributingtosomethingthattheyare
passionateabout,likeawikipediaarticleontheirfavoritemovie,televisionshow,orvideogame.
Thereisnooneanswertothewhatsinitforme?question.

Conclusion
Inthislastseriesofarticlesweexaminedsometechniquesandtoolsusedintheworldof
MOOCstodrivestudentlearningandengagement.Thesetoolsandtechniquesdont
necessarilyneedstaysegregatedintheworldofMOOCs,butwecanlearnfromthemand
adaptthemintoourtraditionalonlinecourses.Withsomesolidinstructionaldesign,andalittle
imagination,materialsandtoolssuchasOER,digitalbadges(part1ofthisseries),eastereggs,
bloggingandtweetingandtechniquessuchaspeergrading(part1ofthisseries),open
communitiesandcollaborativewritinghavethepotentialtoenhancewhatgoesonina
traditionalonlinecourse.Thisisbynomeansanexhaustivelistofthingswecanlearnfrom
MOOCs,andIamsurethatastimeprogresseswewillhavemorethatwecanborrowfrom
them.Onethingisforcertain:watchtheMOOCspace,andkeepanopenmind.

References:
Anderson,T.Rourke,L.,Garrison,D.R.,&Archer,W.(2001).Assessingteaching
presenceinacomputerconferencingcontext.
JournalofAsynchronousLearning
Networks
,
5
(2),117.
Elavsky,C.M.,Mislan,C.,Elavsky,S.(2011).Whentalkinglessismore:exploring
outcomesofTwitterusageinthelargelecturehall.
Learning,MediaandTechnology.

36(3).pp215233.DOI:10.1080/17439884.2010.549828
Kolowich,S.(2013).
GeorgiaTechandCourseraTrytoRecoverFromMOOCStumble.
Retrievedfrom:
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/georgiatechandcourseratrytorecoverfrom
moocstumble
Smith,K.(2009).TheTwitterExperimentTwitterintheClassroom.Retrievedfrom:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WPVWDkF7U8
Vygotsky,L.S.(1978).
MindinSociety.
HarvardUniversityPress.

Links:
EasterEggWikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)

EC&I:
http://eci831.ca/
Gamification
[Coursera/Werbach/UPenn]:
https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification
gRSShopper:
http://grsshopper.downes.ca/
ElearningandDigitalCultures
[Coursera/KnoxSaybeRossSinclairMacleod/Uof
Edinburg]:https://class.coursera.org/edc002/class
OpenBadgeInitiative:
http://openbadges.org/
PlayfulLearning:
http://beta.playfullearning.com/
VideoGamesandLearning
[Coursera/Steinkuhler&Squire/UWWisconsin]:
https://class.coursera.org/videogameslearning001/class/index