Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Week 4: Activity 12...

Before we examine MOOCs in more detail, briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in your own area of education or training. Post your thoughts in your blog and then read and comment on your peers’ postings.

This is a very interesting question and one to which I’ve been giving quite a lot of thought lately. In a university context, with any form of staff development and training currently so hard to implement (time-poor, cash-strapped, uninterested etc), it’s got to be worth exploring more effective ways to help staff who want to develop their digital selves (and maybe even encourage those who don’t see the need…) It’s all very well creating online resources and plugging away with the workshops and so on, but it’s still a huge challenge to get many people in Higher Ed involved. Is there a way to make people more aware of what we (and others) have put online, help them to engage with these resources and link what they do with them to a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework?

Here’s a possible scenario. A group of committed and innovative educationalists and ed techies put together an online collection of resources related to, for example, support for staff who want to develop their digital literacies. E.g. getting started with a PLN, beginner’s guide to blogging, social bookmarking, social networking for academics and so on. As people begin to find out about and use the resources, someone says ‘but how can I get some kind of recognition for all this time I’m spending? Can I use it as part of my ‘official’ CPD?'
This is kind of where we are at the moment, so the next question…

Instead of just building this OER (or collection of little OERs) to sit there, all nice and new and shiny, how can we encourage interaction, involvement and interest? Why don’t we try a mini-MOOC? Only, if it’s just for staff in one institution, wouldn’t that make it a MOC, or even an OC? Well, we could try building a prototype MOOC around the resources we already have, get staff to set up their own blogs, have some kind of aggregator then start to link this to our own professional development framework.. if it works, we could put an ‘o’ in it, take it outside the boundaries of our university, maybe eventually we might be able to develop it to the point where it could be linked to HEA or SEDA frameworks! Imagine that… 

Of course, this would entail significant human and financial resources. Perhaps the use of a few flipping buzz words/phrases like MOOC, Digital Literacies would make Senior Management’s ears prick up? Or if not, with resources so hard to come by, perhaps teaming up with another university (or universities) might be an avenue worth exploring.. lots to think about and ponder over the next few weeks...


  1. Great post and something a few of us have been discussing in terms of Moocs for staff.

  2. Jim, I think you are really onto something. You could start a G+ community for your colleagues and invite others from other universities. Some of the communities I belong to are really rich with professional resources. You would be doing your colleagues a favor by expanding their universes.

  3. Great idea. Some of us in ETMOOC, (Ed Tech and Media MOOC) were talking about this, because ETMOOC itself operated rather like a kind of extended Prof. development course for teachers and trainers--many of the participants were teachers and trainers of one sort or another. We discussed whether and how this kind of thing could be more officially made into a PD event, publicized and recognized as such. One thing that worked for ETMOOC in this regard was that it was totally flexible; people were constantly saying to each other that it didn't matter if you did everything, that you could dip in and out whenever you wanted, that the later parts didn't build upon the earlier in a way that you had to do the earlier parts or you couldn't do the later, etc. Otherwise, it would have been too much work for anyone to do as PD while also working full time. Maybe having something like badges, like we have for this course, when people do certain parts of it, could help with the "flexible" aspect and the "recognition" aspect.

    Except, of course, the badges have to be recognized by one's institution.

    I think ultimately it's a matter of making an argument to one's "higher ups" in institutions of the value of such experiences, such as people who did MOOCs documenting what they did (through blog posts or other means, a digital portfolio perhaps) and showing how valuable it can be. Maybe that could get this sort of work better recognized by those whose recognition matters?

    Finally, I'm not sure it would take a ton of resources to do this. ETMOOC was run by volunteers, and they had enough people that each person only had to do a little. There were five topics (if I remember correctly), and different people were in charge of different topics, so each person only had to be in charge (along with a few others) for a couple of weeks. The main website was hosted by one of the organizers, who already had a hosting service, and the blog aggregator was made by someone through a voluntary effort. It didn't have to cost a lot, I think, except time. And the more people are involved in planning, the less time for each, as noted above.

    I'm involved in a current effort to make a sort of cMOOC for professional development for teachers, which is explained briefly here (we're just now starting the planning, so the site doesn't have much on it yet). There are a bunch of us working together, and again, for each week there is a small group who is charge of what will happen that week. We're all volunteers because we just think this is cool.

  4. I love the idea, Jim - and think you should work this up with like-minded colleagues /-)... I think that an institution's eResources could definitely be navigated as a form of MOOC - either taken by many as a synchronous course or used by staff asynchronously as they navigate their own CPD paths. I also think that when subject staff develop their own practice - either through pedagogic or curriculum innovation - that should count as CPD - as should be the working together with their institution's education, writing, learning and eLearning developers. I like the idea of starting with staff and *their* real issues - and jointly finding the appropriate solution...