Other people’s #OutstandingMOOCs 4

Last time round I indicated that I wanted to build my own MOOC for #OutstandingMOOC, having originally said that I wasn’t going to. However, somewhere along the line, the last two weeks have just disappeared and I’ve not managed to actually get anything built. So rather than try and throw something together rapidly, I’ve decided to focus my efforts on reviewing other people’s #OutstandingMOOCs!

Learning Analytics #LAMOOC

First one I landed on was Nick Ribeiro‘s MOOC about Learning Analytics (#LAMOOC). Now before going too into detail, I do have a reasonable working knowledge about learning analytics, which was one of the reasons for delving into this. Personally I felt the MOOC started well, and I particularly liked getting an insight from Nick about what he was aiming to achieve (perhaps a video would have made it a bit more  of a “personal” welcome – but then it was nice to see a different type of media as the majority seemed to be video).

I worked through the first few levels of Nick’s MOOC to get a feel for what he was trying to achieve. As I’ve commented in previous blog posts before, it was nice to see the different media being used, and I found Nick had worked well to ensure there were appropriate questions on each piece of media (perhaps the questions were a bit too low level, but that was probably reflective of the fact that this MOOC isn’t actually being viewed by a crowd of learning analysts). My biggest dislike (which I picked up with Nick via a comment in the MOOC) was the need to gain nearly maximum XP from each level in order to progress. The best bit for me of the #OutstandingMOOC was that I was able to dive in and out and pick and choose which bits I wanted to engage with, however it felt like this was a bit more forced.

The other thing that worked really well was the way Nick went back into the course and continued to add conversation. For a number of comments I posted, Nick was in to offer additional questions and continue to drive on the conversation – which would be key for any MOOC. The content was a nice mix, and despite not running through the whole MOOC, it gave a nice feel of learning analytics, and also taught me something new (in micro and macro goals/conversions). Overall, a nice solid attempt at a MOOC which has been thrown together in such a short period of time.

My key takeaway: The importance of getting the XP for level progression right (and once size probably doesn’t fit all).

How to avoid death by PowerPoint

Second on my Outstanding MOOC hit-list was Jo Cook‘s MOOC about avoiding death by PowerPoint. Before I started this, Jo had already told me that she hadn’t managed to build as much as she had wanted to, but I was still looking forward to seeing what Jo had developed.

On first glance, there were three levels to be viewed, and I was very happy (following on from Nick’s one) to see that there wasn’t a requirement to gain maximum XP from each level to progress. Starting the MOOC with level one, Jo’s first item was a video about common PowerPoint issues. The video was, without a doubt, the stand out piece of the whole MOOC. The approach Jo had taken in presenting a video like this (which provided an attempt at tackling the main issues, in a comedy style) was perfect – and allowed the MOOC to start on a really good feel.

From this point onwards, there was a good mix of content (whereas some MOOCs end up feeling dominated by certain types of content – e.g. full of videos – this one didn’t) there was a nice mix of video, image and text. It was clear when progressing exactly what Jo had meant when she said she hadn’t managed to finish – as it just didn’t feel like it had all of the content present (the latter two levels only had one item) – but it showed a good balance – wrapped up with some good questions (which would have provoked comments from learners of different backgrounds).

My key takeaway: The importance of quality content to start the course – this really helps to engage the learner right from the start.

How to get the best out of a MOOC

Third up was this MOOC by Saskia Tiggelaar. Now – I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with Saskia over the past few weeks during the twitter chats and the chat throughout the MOOC, so I was looking forward to getting started on this, and the videos to start with didn’t let down. Like with Jo’s one above, the first video picked was an excellent one which set the scene for the MOOC really well. What was then really good, was this was followed up by a second excellent video which helped to continue this enthusiastic beginning. However, what I then found was that when I got to the third item, it was another video, and it wasn’t as “exciting” and suddenly I was starting to feel like I was just watching a load of videos.

As I progressed through the levels, I could see that the MOOC was a “work in progress” and clearly there is more content which would have been added if it had been given more time. What however did strike me, which I’d never really considered before, was the dependence on one type of media. Where Saskia had built this MOOC using a large number of videos (most of which seemed to be a good quality), their effectiveness was somewhat lost due to the sheer volume of videos it felt like I was watching – and this was further enforced when I watched two videos from the same person. I potentially think we forget about ensuring a diversity of media types and presenters to ensure that the content we utilise within a MOOC remains engaging for the end learner.

My key takeaway: The importance of getting a good variety of media types (video, audio, image and text) but also getting a different “feel” of content by using content from different people.

Gamification in MOOCs

Next up was this MOOC by Marieke Snijder. The thing which immediately struck me when I started this MOOC was how nice it was to have a “personal” introduction. I’ve accessed all of the MOOCs above, and many of them have started with a really good and engaging video – but this one started with a simple text introduction from Marieke – and it’s simplicity was lovely! It was really nice to see a personal welcome from the organiser – something which I think many “professional” MOOCs – but not something that everyone on this course had chosen to do.

The course then moved on with a nice video, and then an article to complete the first level – followed by the first real use of a level gate (whereby the user was tested before being able to progress through). This provided a good mix of media, but also a good assessment of learning with the end gate (perhaps good isn’t the best word, but as so many businesses get caught up in the “assessing” process – and maintain the insistence on testing users understanding – this was a great way to implement this into the process).

As I progressed a bit further through this course, my only disappointment was to see the return of the “must gain maximum xp in order to progress through a level gate”. Having achieved a really nice balance of content – it’s then counteracted by a need to comment on everything (which can then mean it feels a bit laboured) – which is a real shame on what is actually a well curated set of content.

My key takeaway: The importance of making the MOOC feel personal. By adding personal touches (like direct welcomes from the wrangler) – the MOOC just “feels” nicer

Celebrating Ubuntu to make work meaningful

Next up was learning about Ubuntu in a MOOC by Suzan McWha. For me, I was a bit confused, I always thought Ubuntu was just a computer/mobile operating system – so immediately – just by watching the first video – I had learned something!

Moving on from here, there was a really good mix of content. Mixed nicely between videos and articles made it feel like the blend was very balanced and I didn’t feel like I was doing the same thing over and over again. However the bit which really made the course stand out was the quality of the questions. Susan had clearly taken a lot of time to write the questions, writing questions which were open and provoked responses from the learners.

When I talked previously about my own experience through #OutstandingMOOC, one of the key things for me was the social interaction with others. This interaction can only happen if driven by well written questions, and I couldn’t help but feel that if there had been a number of people doing this course, they would have interacted with each other really well whilst they answered the questions, or worked back through commenting on the answers provided by others.

My key takeaway: The importance of writing good quality questions to help drive the social interaction of the MOOC. Without good questions, you don’t get good social interaction.

CQ Scenarios

The final MOOC on my hitlist was CQ Scenarios by Victoria Harris. Although this piece hadn’t been finished, and quite a bit was locked down, so there wasn’t too much I could see, the short bit I could see was a very interesting, and very different take on the MOOC concept. Whereas others had provided videos to watch, or articles to read, Victoria instead posted a selection of scenarios for the user to work through. These scenarios took the form of everyday social media interactions (reading comments on a page, seeing someone’s status, receiving a friend request etc) then asking the learner how they would deal with this.

The approach was wonderful – and really refreshing to see. I particularly like the concept that the user is immediately “tested” on their own view of the situation – whilst also providing the opportunity to see how others would react to the same situation.

However, my biggest query (if that’s the best way to put it) – was how you would ensure that the user received the information about the “right” answer. Whilst users could be replied to in order to ensure they know how to deal with the scenario “in line with business expectations” – my fear would be the timeliness of this. Whether the responses come from a facilitator, or a fellow student – any delay could potentially lead to a situation being handled “incorrectly” (in accordance with business practices). I guess the best way would be to tackle the “theory” (or policy) in a next level – but in this case – I’ll never know!

My key takeaway: MOOC approaches really can be utilised in different ways, and applied in different contexts, with great results!


I’m ready to stop now….

I really hope that the comments I’ve made above represent just how much I’ve enjoyed viewing how different people have tackled this task of building a MOOC. I said a while back that “I’ll tell you when I’m ready to stop” – well now I’m ready to stop – but the learning experience has been one of the best I’ve had in a very long time – and it’s been nothing like any traditional classroom experience would have allowed me to achieve. I’ve started, stopped, started again and stopped again – but I’ve learnt so many different ways in which these concepts can be applied – and taken so many different approaches to the same task – no single person or course could have covered all of this – it was all because of the approach, and the social style!

4 thoughts on “Other people’s #OutstandingMOOCs

  • Sue McWha

    Hi Nick

    Thank you for the constructive feedback and the key take aways – all of them food for thought for future MOOCs and on-line learning design.

  • Craig Taylor

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for taking the time to review and pull together such a comprehensive review of the courses that people created.

    It was interesting to read that despite you (not conventionally) finishing the course, that you still took a great deal from it.

    Another nail in the coffin of “finishing = learning something”?

    I wonder if (bar the technical aspects of Curatr) you gained more by reviewing other people’s MOOCs than creating your own?

    • Nick Lee Post author

      Thanks Craig – the point about taking a great deal from something despite “not finishing” it – was the point I tried to make in my earlier blog post – but I would agree – it’s another nail in that coffin – however we still fall back to the fact that there is this underlying “traditional” sense that you must finish it all (and pass a test) to learn something…….

      …..I’m afraid there’s no test that could have been written to prove what I learnt – but the five key takeaways prove I definitely learnt a lot (and that’s just from the reviewing!)

      As for the comment about whether I learnt more reviewing than I would have from creating my own – it’s probably correct – however I don’t think this is specifically anything new. Ultimately you will always gain more from reviewing that you would from rewriting and organising your own content – but for me – it was definitely a value added experience!

Comments are closed.