Written by Ania Rolinska
On Thursday, 12 Feb, I had a pleasure of discussing the Hands On ICT MOOC with Ian Guest and John Johnston on Radio EduTalk. EduTalk is a regular online radio show run by David Noble (@parslad) and John Johnston (@johnjohnston). It explores education, using mobile and web technologies. The discussion was very interesting as it allowed us to reflect on the HO project from the perspective of a participant (Ian) and that of a facilitator (myself).
We started off with a brief history of MOOCs and an overview of existing types: cMOOCs (connectivist pedagogy, networked learning and knowledge creation) and xMOOCs (a rigid structure with input from experts). Next we discussed which category the HO MOOC belongs.
The HO MOOC participants were asked to apply the Learning Design Studio framework to their professional contexts by working on their own project and mentoring each other in the process. So although the MOOC followed a structure of the Design Inquiry of Learning cycle, it strongly focused on artefact creation rather than just consumption of knowledge. There was a strong collaborative element in the form of peer reviews too. Being a project-based course, we agreed, the HO MOOC looked like a hybrid course and attempted to combine ‘the best of the two worlds’.
We also discussed the benefits of having participants from diverse backgrounds and contexts. Ian stressed how much he learnt from the different projects designed across the globe, e.g.:
an online space for design students at a secondary school by Grant MacDonald (Australia);
a project for learners with SENs by Ida Brandão (Portugal);
an orientation course in using a VLE by Natalya Bukhanova (Russia).
He appreciated the possibility of creating close working relationships with the fellow MOOCers and the opportunity of learning together.
The definite strength of the MOOC was the peer review element which provided the participants with constant formative feedback on their work. Ian wondered whether it could have been more constructive in its criticism. Some of the MOOC researchers state critical literacies are the prerequisite for sufficient engagement with the MOOC content (Kop and Fournier, 2010). Considering the level of experience and expertise of the HO MOOCers (course stats) I think that perhaps the intensity of the experience requiring considerable time and effort investment coupled with a short time to develop close relationships with others may have affected the level of criticality when it comes to pointing out areas for improvement. Perhaps intercultural sensitivities were at play here too.
We spent some time discussing the open and diverse nature of the course, one of the features of cMOOCs, as discussed by Downes (2009). Although the HANDSON MOOC was held in closed environments of the Canvas VLE and the Integrated Learning Design Environment (ILDE), there was nothing to stop the participants from using their own spaces. And they did so, sharing links to their prezi presentations, blog posts and padlet walls. The course was also run in 7 different languages to minimise access barriers. Related to openness is the availability of the HO toolkit for reuse and adaptation under CC licences and Natalya Bukhanova has already adapted it and is currently facilitating the course for a Russian-speaking educator community.
We concluded that the HO MOOC was a valuable CPD opportunity as it focused on the practice and working with real-life scenarios and we welcomed the possibility of seeing developments in the future use of the toolkit to reach an even wider audience.