The third delivery of ‘Making MOOCs on a Budget’ got off to a good start last week. Participants from all over the world came together to introduce themselves and get started on the 6-week course aimed at building the knowledge and skills needed to make a MOOC – or an online course.
Brian kicked off the MOOC in his video giving an overview of ‘learning objects’– elements that can be used in a MOOC for learning – videos, discussion forums, peer assessments and others. Participants in the discussion following the video shared their views on the various objects and offered some interesting tips based on their own experience.
There was a lot of interest in the use of videos, with acknowledgement that good audio is essential. Length of reading material, optimisation of materials for small screens, issues of accessibility through use of subtitling, the use of discussion forums and peer assessment – these are some of the issues that came up in the lively discussion.
Support for learners was also raised as something needed to help people adapt to learning from videos, with one participant proposing that learners should be advised to include video time markers in their notes so that they can easily return to parts of the video they may not have been clear on or want to see again. The full discussion can be found here.
Do you need to plan your MOOC?
We also asked people to give their opinion on the statement: “You don’t need to plan a MOOC. If you have some experience in teaching, you can quickly build a MOOC instinctively”. The discussion drew quite a few responses, with everyone (!) disagreeing with the statement.
The general consensus was that, though people who have teaching experience may find it quicker or easier to plan a MOOC than those who have not taught before, planning simply cannot be avoided – as one participant put it: ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’. Identifying clear learning objectives and matching them with meaningful learning resources were listed by many as key to a successful MOOC, while others stressed also the importance of selecting only the most relevant resources from the vast amount of content available on the internet and other places.
People also generally agreed on the importance of designing a MOOC to meet learners’ needs rather than simply producing a course based on the instructors’ expertise. This raised an interesting question of how to plan and adapt a MOOC, where very often it’s impossible to know who your learners are until it actually goes live. In a classroom setting, it’s possible to adjust style and content on the spot, but while some tweaking may be possible by instructors during a MOOC, the entire course should ideally be more-or-less finalized before opening. Some interesting suggestions to allow instructors to adapt to learners’ needs during the MOOC included doing a few test runs to get an understanding of the needs of the types of learners who are attracted to your MOOC and make improvements in subsequent iterations until you feel the style and content matches the diverse needs and expectations of your group. Including live webinars throughout the MOOC was proposed as another way of building in flexibility to address unmet or emerging learner needs on the courses. The full discussion can be found here.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussions!
If you haven’t registered yet, you can still do so here – it will only take a couple of hours to catch up and join this week’s topic on selecting the tools you need to develop your MOOC.