Kirk  yelling MOOC instead of KHAAAAAAAAAAN

This week, a monster not seen since August returned. MOOCMOOC, a MOOC about MOOCs, took over Twitter, and rampaged on Storify and The Canvas Network once again. I can only presume that the monster, temporarily sated will now hibernate for a bit while the conversations begun in the rubble continue on, evolving through new networks into new discussions.

Introducing the MOON

the MOOCMOOC monster with the caption Ceci n'est pas une lune

MOOCMOOC in not a MOON (yet).

The ideal end for a MOOC is a MOON: a Mass of Open Online Networks. I say a Mass rather than borrowing Massive from MOOC because a truly massive number of participants would be difficult to maintain in a single network and because participants with different needs and interests will tend to self-organize into networks with different concerns. Open and online I have kept because the boundaries of these networks should remain open to new voices and because, even though it is entirely possible to meet people one knows online in person, the networks that form are unlikely to exist in a single region—and if they do, then we need to ask why.

Diverse Learners, Diverse Needs: MOOCs and Access

Learners in different parts of the world will have different needs: languages, time zones, and access to technology vary. These kinds of concerns were central to this week’s MOOCMOOC. During the first one, one of the major concepts to emerge was the possibility of MOOCification, adding MOOC-like elements to a more traditional class. MOOCMOOC I was, at least for me, mostly about exploring the possibilities of MOOCs; this time, the conversation seemed to focus much more on meeting the specific needs of diverse learners. This focus occurred at least in part because of some new participants finding the de-centralized form of MOOCMOOC challenging. Because most of these would-be learners seemed genuinely interested in engaging with MOOCMOOC, their difficulties served as an important reminder that not everyone has the skills, digital and otherwise, to clear their own learning paths.

The conversation about learner needs this week was, however, broader than that:

I still think that the best use of MOOCs in higher education is as a way to hybridize the classroom and create assignments that are more meaningful because they exist outside the classroom. If the MOOCs successfully develop into MOONs, then student participation in these happenings will also help them transition to becoming lifelong (co-)learners. I come away this week with a stronger sense of what needs to be addressed (whether by facilitators or by other participants) in order to make those MOOCs and MOONs as diverse as possible.

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