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Hi all! I'm looking forward to using this space to discuss massive online courses and other open learning experiences as they relate to teaching, learning and educational institutions. There has been quite a bit of buzz around this over the past few months, and I'm hoping we can use this opportunity to start collecting our blog posts and Twitter reactions in an ongoing dialogue.

Perhaps an interesting place to start is by reflecting on our own experiences (or non-experiences) with MOOCs. As educational technology practitioners, I think we are in a unique position to learn by being introspective about this paradigm. Observing and reflecting on what works and what doesn't work will help us steer large-scale, open learning initiatives in a productive direction.

Have you participated in a MOOC? If so, what was your motivation? Was it a positive learning experience? How did it compare to your "formal" education? If you haven't participated in any open courses, why not?

Have you facilitated a MOOC? How did you decide to teach in an open format? What were the challenges you faced from the standpoint of the technology, course design, or your institutional affiliation?

Feel free to jump in on this topic or start a new one!

Also, please note that we are looking for additional group leaders to help facilitate discussion and represent the group at conferences. If you are interested, feel free to post here or contact me directly.

// Jason Blanchard

Instructional Designer
Goodwin College
Drexel University
Phone: 215-571-3927
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I joined the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK11) MOOC in January 2011 out of curiosity, and due to affordability, and have been a serial MOOC lurker (mostly) ever since. I found the platform and its potential fascinating. I signed up for the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course right around the same time and found that two MOOCs was too much.

Some MOOCs are better experiences than others. Like any course, that all depends on the content, the course community, and the facilitators, and what the individual brings to the course in the way of background, motivation, time and effort. The more opportunities for participant involvement and interaction, the better the MOOC will be, as long as the participants make the most of the opportunities. DS106 is a good model for what a MOOC can be.

What works and what doesn't:
Learning management systems, in my experience, are always a negative factor in MOOCs. Openness is the key to MOOCs, and LMSes put up barriers. Facebook groups and Twitter make for better discussion forums.
Some people really like live chat sessions, but I think a synchronicity is key. Otherwise time becomes a barrier.
The video aspect of MOOCs gets a lot of hype. Personally, I find it repellent. If I have to sit and watch someone talk at me, I will probably bail within the first minute. Most people are not TED-level presenters. Most of the video content I've seen in MOOCs would be much more efficiently delivered through text and images. Even TED supplies transcripts of their talks. That's my pet peeve, and I'm probably in the minority.

In comparison the formal education, I think MOOCs allow me more freedom to focus on learning. Traditional courses are encumbered with artificial nonsense like grades and deadlines. Maybe those are necessary, but they lead to distortions like "satisficing" - doing enough to get by, get the grade and move on. Learning does not end and never reaches one hundred percent.

Paul Bond
Library Instruction Coordinator
University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown