CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, PLN, Professional Development

Online Learning: More Than Just a MOOC

As a life-long learner, I have appreciated engaging and interacting with a wide variety of educators in a few Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The concept of a MOOC is has been around for a while. In previous blog posts, I have shared the definition of a MOOC and my participation and experience. I have appreciated learning from the #eci831 and #CCK09 MOOC facilitators, such as Alec Couros, George Siemens & Stephen Downes. Even more,  I appreciate the knowledge shared by invited speakers and the connected learning participants who I continue to engage and exchange with beyond the course structure. MOOCs are now on the tip of everyone’s tongue due to recent education technology start-ups who are now designing MOOC-like courses and creating partnerships with many accredited higher education institutions. What’s all the MOOC about if the concept of a MOOC is not a new innovation?

#jiscwebinar What Is A MOOC? @dkernohan @mweller @jonathan_worth @loumcgill @daveowhite [visual Notes]

Image c/o Flickr user guilia.forsythe

In a recent CBC radio interview and blog post, George Siemens discusses more about the good and bad aspects of Massively Open Online Courses are for online learning. There are different sides of the camp on this topic. Some believe MOOCs will either kill or transform the academy as we know it. Here are some interesting points that were shared in the interview from George and callers to the show:

Current Learning & Development = #AltProDev

If there is an interesting alternative professional development (#AltProDev) opportunity available – I’m there! Part of the reason why I have connected to podcasting with or participation in Twitter Chats (#AcAdv Chat, #SAchat or #PhDchat) can be attributed to my early learning experiences with MOOCs. I enjoy engaging in PD to improve my skills and add to my knowledge repertoire. Across various personal and professional spheres, I have learned a great deal at formal conferences, workshops and education sessions; however, I am also proud to say I learn a great deal from my informal training and development environments that are primarily cultivated online. I think that MOOCs provide a set time period for professionals to learn about a specific topic and engage with others in a similar informal fashion. What is neat about this classroom is, that although the course might end, your network and learning artifacts continue to thrive outside the specific learning environment.

Teaching locally but accredit widely.

As a current student in higher education (I’m in process of working on my doctoral degree in learning technologies at UNT), I tend to research, read, archive, and share online to keep on top of the trends and happenings. I think my involvement in MOOCs have connected me to new concepts, research ideas, learning networks, and continue to support my formal education goals. My intention when signing up for this type of free, online learning was to support my own professional development and expose myself to new learning concepts. I reflected my MOOC experiences to my faculty advisor and he believed that participation in any one of these classes could be an added elective for my doctoral degree plan since this informal learning environment was contributing to my research design. How would this type of learning be looked like at your institution for degree requirements? Here is one suggestion for earning college credit from MOOCs if interested.

Sustainable model? Or Just Branding?

The MOOC talk seems to be all the rage as start-up companies, such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, partner to “reshape online learning” with well-known higher education institutions. Will the massive hype of these MOOC types lead to effective use and sustainable funding models? Or is this just another method for marketing and propagation of the university brand? I do not know. I agree with George’s thoughts – we will see after the dust settles and the MOOC hype levels off in higher education.

Types of MOOCs

As the online learning trend grows there will be various types, targets and tiered offerings of MOOCs. Some of the MOOCs I have reviewed have included areas for digital competence, open education and technical resources. The content, subjects, platforms and learning environments will vary from MOOC to MOOC – and will most likely depend on the partnering institutions influence as well. Online learning will continue to be part of higher education curriculum at many institutions, but as George says “open and online courses is not going to be what cures the ails of online education.” I concur.

Incomplete = Failure?

Does a lack of commitment or completion mean that a MOOC failed? In looking at the retention and completion rates of MOOCs, the numbers vary from start to finish of a MOOC. Audrey Watters wrote a great about dropping out of MOOCs last week. She questioned if it was the content, instructor, platform or learner themselves. Good questions. If this was a multiple choice test, I might even select (E) Any of the above. Or perhaps our MOOC participants would commit more if they paid to learn – even $2 Would the freemium model commit participants more if there was a certification, badge, or accreditation for courses attached? Does extrinsic motivation trump the intrinsic goal for learning and self-fulfillment? I’m not sure.

Dynamics of MOOCs vs. Organic Classroom Experience

There are many pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings for MOOCs. If designed well, a number of online education opportunities allow for discussion, problem-solving, reflection, and unique dynamic interactions. A question from one of the callers to the CBC radio program asked (paraphrased) – can online education and MOOCs really replace the organic interactions in a face-to-face classroom environment? My initial response = it depends. I have always thought good teaching and solid learning outcomes is what drives the course. That being said it is important to note that technology is “not just a tool.” As a student, I have been in both fantastic and terrible courses both online and in class. Depending on the course purpose and objectives, instructors have the POTENTIAL to engage learners in a truly immersive and participative online learning environment. Technology is the instrument; the students are the musicians – it is up to the instructor to orchestrate and guide the collaborative instrumental play in online education.

What are your thoughts about MOOCs? Have you participated in a MOOC? Are you planning to participate in a MOOC in the near future? Please share.

EC&I831, eduMOOC, Higher Education, Learning Community, Learning Technologies, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities, Web Design

#mtmoot Opening Keynote: Digital Pedagogy to Engage

This morning I will be joining the Mountain MoodleMoot at Carroll College in Helena, MT to share some thoughts and ideas around engaged digital pedagogy. Our learners are connected; however  I think more educators and instructional designers need to support our students in developing effective learning skills to navigate this new culture of learning. For those of you interested in following along, be sure to tweet with hashtag  #mtmoot, check out my slides (below), and feel free to scope out the digital handout I compiled for this session.


Today’s learners operate in a world that is informal, networked, and filled with technology. Connectivity and digital access is an increasing need for our students and a vital requirement to excel beyond structured learning environments. Our learners are now able to interact with information, learning materials, and peers from around the globe. There is an increasing need to expand and enhance our learners’ involvement in learning technology to support engagement in online learning environments.

With the emergence of collaborative, online tools, educators can take advantage of multidimensional and engaged participation to reach their learning outcomes. Social media creates a space where “everybody and anybody can share anything anywhere anytime” (Joosten, 2012, p.6). Educational paradigms are shifting to include new modes of online and collaborative learning and student-centered, active learning to challenge our students to connect curriculum with real life issues (Johnson, Adams & Cummins, 2012). As a new generation of learners begin to create and share content, educators need to understand how to effectively utilize social web resources to impact in instructional practice create a culture of online participatory learning.

Emerging technology platforms and devices are beginning to disrupt education as we know it. To coevolve and positively impact learner success, it is critical that instructors and instructional designers consider how digital pedagogy can support learning outcomes. This keynote plenary will share ideas and suggested practices to develop a richer learning experience and thrive in the changing digital learning frontier.


Johnson, L., Adams, S. & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators. San Francisco, CA: Wiley/Jossey-Bass.

CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, Learning Community, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

What’s A MOOC?

What is a MOOC? What it is not = 


Flickr photos c/o maraker & cobalt123

Many of my educational technology peers might have heard the term MOOC tossed around before. For those of you who are just hearing this acronym, let me further explain. MOOC = Massive Open Online Course. It is exactly as the title describes. Here is a further description from Jan Schwartz‘s article – Learnings from a MOOC:

In the MOOC, the facilitators aggregated the conversations on a daily basis via a mass email, took a few really good posts (in their opinion), and advanced the conversation by asking more questions and pointing the discussions in relevant directions. Their choice of good posts included both the pro and the con of topics of connectivism and connected learning. 

The term MOOC was recently shared in yesterday’s Wired Chronicle article . When I heard about this upcoming MOOC last week I was looking forward to this course. My past experiences in other MOOCs – EC&I 831 & CCK09 – have contributed to my professional development, academic research and personal learning networks.  As an on-going learner, MOOCs often cultivate my learning interests and challenge me to go beyond what I  learning realms.

The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield is currently welcoming participants to their upcoming eight-week MOOC starting on June 27, 2011. [You can follow @edumooc or the hashtag #edumooc on Twitter and check out the eduMOOC wiki if you just care to “lurk & learn”]:

Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow

This collaborative course is completely open and free. Check out the great schedule for weekly panel discussions with experts in field. This will be a fun learning opportunity for some and perhaps great professional development for others.  I also encourage you to check out Dave Cormier‘s videos that shares  “What is a MOOC?” and how to be successful in a MOOC:

AcAdv, EC&I831, Learning Community, NACADA Tech, nacada10, Social Media

Advising Is the Sum Of All Parts With Technology

I took a bit of a Tech-cation after returning from #nacada10 last week. There was so much social media involvement at the 2010 NACADA annual conference, that I thought it was very important to be social in real life (IRL) and get back to the daily grind at the office.

After over a week away from blogging, I thought I would share some of my ‘deep thoughts’ about NACADA10 and the brilliant advising community. It was a pretty fun experience to be part of the NACADA10 Social Media Dream Team.

My NACADA #SM accomplice, @bradpopiolek, helped to fuel the 1st Official NACADA 2010 blog and backchannel at the annual conference last week. This was a great opportunity for pictures, videos and tweets both as an archive to the conference, and it was an easy way to share the NACADA10 happenings with other Academic Advising folks near and far.

The opening keynote speaker, @reyjunco, brought some interesting ideas to the NACADA attendees during his talk about  student engagement, social media & change. This sparked many conversations and questions on how to best utilize these resources for our students in our advising profession, etc.

The 1st ever NACADA TweetUp was a success. I had a blast meeting all my academic advising friends from Twitter IRL. It was a great to connect & chat with everyone including: @vcuesposito, @bradpopiolek, @JPKirchmeier, @howardsj, @peacox, @Ahjim,@USMAccAdv, @adamduberstein, @amy0631, @reyjunco & @KellyJBailey.

For those fantastic #AcAdv tweeps on my NACADA-AdvAdv List who couldn’t attend the NACADA TweetUp that night at Rix, I was fortunate to meet you throughout the conference. Excellent discussions and introductions made with fellow tweeters like @UOAdvDir, @sally_garner, @jadana17, @jbarkemeyer & more! For those of you on “the list” I look forward to a tweetup sometime in the future. For now we will continue to learn & share on Twitter.

My NACADA10 takeaways:

  • learning is continuous & not a specific location – many #AcAdv joined the conversation from afar
  • advising peers sharing experiences/resources is always a good thing
  • my personal learning network (PLN) at NACADA continues to challenge & support me
  • academic advisors are a great group of #highered professionals
  • #nacada has a WEALTH of information & resources (we need to share these MORE effectively)
  • conversations at conferences are THE reason why you go to a conference
  • sometimes social media can make you less social IRL – balance is good

Being part of a great association and meeting at an annual conference is grand, but I truly value the resources and contributions my network of #nacada peers share online and always. Whether it’s an article posted on a blog, to a comment on twitter, my PLN best contributes to my educational and professional life. Thank you. Keep up the fine work.

I will leave you with a great quote from Dr. Rick Schwier (@schwier), an #edtech faculty from the University of Saskatchewan, who shared these thoughts #during a recent #eci831 lecture about the history of learning networks:

“You can’t separate the network [from learning],

the network is learning.”

Hey #AcAdv PLN – let’s keep collaborating, connecting & learning together. See you in the social media-sphere.

CTC, EC&I831, Open Education, Podcast

An Open Educator

Last September I joined a pretty interesting course I heard about on Twitter called EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education. Little did I know how much learning and engagement an online course could provide in just one semester.

Dr. Alec Couros , from the University of Regina, is the faculty who facilitated this open, online graduate course and I participated as a non-credit student during the Fall 2009. Although this course did not go towards any specific degree requirements for my Ph.D. program, it did influence my practice with social media as a learner, researcher, and educator. Along with other students (credit & non-credit), I was introduced to a myriad of #edtech topics, online resources, pioneers in the #edtech field (See ARCHIVED Fall 2009), and, of course, it helped build my personal learning network.

The Networked Teacher c/o courosa on Flickr

So it was only fitting that just shy of a year later, I am fortunate to discuss the great impacts EC&I 831 made on me and more! Dr. Couros shared his philosophy on open education, his open tenure application, involvement in social media & justice and his experience as an open educator using social media for instruction, research, publications and professional development.

The Campus Tech Connection had a very enjoyable chat with @courosa on the CTC #10 podcast to discuss his experience and process as an open educator. Both @jacksonj and I agree – that he was a delight to talk with and learn from. We would welcome him back anytime in the future as a guest, or heck, even an honorary host of the #CTC podcast.

Are you interested and have time to take a class this Fall? Then I would strongly suggest you participate as a non-credit student in EC & I 831: Social Media & Open Education.

See you NEXT week for the Campus Tech Connection #11 on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 7 pm CDT with guest Ed Cabellon (@EdCabellon).

For now enjoy LAST week’s show with Alec HERE


Dr. Couros just posted about his Open Graduate Course & Call for Network Mentors on his blog… including a great new promo video for the course: