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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are you participating in MOOC or a Massive Online Course acting as a MOOC

The Background

It started with this tweet:
  MOOC-the M in Massive should be viewed as an aspiration and uncontested, If not truly Open, then it is not a MOOC.
in conversation I quickly followed up with this tweet:
stevemac121 if it's not truly Open, its a MOC, and further more it is making a MOCERY of MOOCS :-)
I have been encouraged to explain my thinking a bit further by Vanessa Vaile, an online friend and valued member of my personal learning network, so In relation to the tweets and the blog post title here we go.

Brigham Young University faculty survey seeks to advance open education through academic libraries
Image Courtesy of opensourceway under the CC 2.0 SA licence

Some More Background

To be absolutely accurate it started with me perusing the Academia and the Mooc MOOC discussion board (Running from the online learning platform, Canvas) and observing a discussion around "is MOOC the right name to explain what you are participating in when involved in a MOOC". At the same time i was reading the JISC CETIS document on "MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education" (pages 4-5) which explains the origins and subsequent labelling of recent online course initiatives.
"Following on from the development of Open Education Resources and the Open Education movement (Yuan, et al., 2008), the term Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was first introduced in 2008 by Dave Cormier to describe Siemens and Downes’ “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” course. 
This online course was initially designed for a group of twenty-five enrolled, fee paying students to study for credit and at the same time was opened up to registered only learners worldwide.  As a result, over 2,300 people participated in the course without paying fees or gaining credit (Wikipedia, 2012).
In 2011, Sebastian Thrun and his colleagues at Stanford opened access to the course they were teaching at the university, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, and attracted 160,000 learners in more than 190 countries (Wikipedia, 2012).  
Since then, MOOCs have become a label for many recent online course initiatives from institutions, individuals and commercial organisations."
In this same document (page 6) the following paragraph grabbed my intention:
"The original aim of MOOCs was to open up education and provide free access to university level education for as many students as possible.  In contrast to traditional university online courses, MOOCs have two key features (Wikipedia, 2012):
1.    Open access - anyone can participate in an online course for free
2.    Scalability - courses are designed to support an indefinite number of participants
However, these features may be interpreted differently by different MOOC providers; some MOOCs are massive but not open and some are open but not massive."
Some even More background

Those that know me will know that I am a strong advocate of connectivist learning. I believe that participation in cMOOCs is a fantastic opportunity to not only learn but to also build and enhance a lifelong personal learning network for ongoing future connectivist learning.

I think we can all agree however that is more than one way of learning. I fully appreciate the need for different learning approaches for different people, situations, and levels of development including transmission mode teaching and learning. xMOOCs are often characterized as transmission mode style of learning and there is no doubt that thousands of learners have benefited from participating in these courses just as have thousands benefitted from leraning in cMOOCs. The exercise played out on this blog post is purely a discussion of the terminology related to MOOCs and by extension the relevance and significance in relation to "cMOOCs" and "xMOOCs".

The Nub of it

The Nub of this post simply started with a deeper look at the language that describes a genuine MOOC. Looking at the The JISC CETIS paragraph citing the original aim and then especially the phrase some MOOCs are massive but not open and some are open but not massive." I came to these conclusions.

Massive - It is an aspiration and therefore it can be legitimately used by anyone describing their course.
Open -     if it's not truly Open, its a MOC and i am afraid not really a MOOC. More on 'Open' below. 
Online -   This is self evident
Course -  I take the 'Course' description to give participants a sense of time, to engender some urgency, to indicate some purpose. Other suggested options mused in the canvas discussion 'defining and redefining MOOC' include classrooms, conversations and communications. These for me do not conjure up the same sense of urgency and purpose.

Being Open- Conclusion

In the JISC CETIS quote above it states that Open access means "anyone can participate in an online course for free", but in the true spirit of the original MOOCs this extended explanation from Dave Cormier gives a more complete explanation of what open actually means.
"Open in the sense that all of the work gets done in areas that make the work accessible for people to read and reflect and make comment on.

The course is open in the sense that you can go ahead and take the course without paying for it
you might pay for getting credit from the institution, but you are not paying for participating in the course.

It's also open in the sense that the work done in the course is shared between all the people taking it. The material put together by the facilitators, the work done by the participants it's all negotiated in the open. You get to keep your work and everyone else gets to learn from it."
An important element for me is keeping your work and it's not that you are just keeping it, but the effort in producing your own work in your own space is good for you as a learner - A place where you can easily retrieve your learning to be referred to and passed on easily again and again when required either directly by yourself or randomly because your work is out there to be shared long after the 'course' has gone.

So after mulling over the language and the terminology associated with the Term MOOC, it dawned on me that if the course is not truly open then it is not a MOOC which it could be argued that some xMOOC offerings may come into this category and in affect they are in fact just a MOC, a Massive Online Course, which chimed in nicely with a blog post by@whitneykilgore xMOOC or New Publishing Paradigm? So
 if not a MOOC or a MOC maybe a new publishing paradigm!

When you look more closely at the words and the meaning and the original aim of a MOOC you logically come to the conclusion that cMoocs by their nature are true MOOCs.

See More From Dave Cormier below in "What is a Mooc"

See also George Siemens' interview on MOOCs and Open Education

See also Welcome to the Brave New World of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wordpress Blog as Online CV and Personal Development Auditor

Spark for this session was this blog post "is technology eating your job".

Made me realize in a competitive job market place how important it is to be organised and ready for to secure the (a) job that you want. This got me thinking, then got me playing and then sharing my thoughts with a small group of social media enthusiasts at the university where i work - De Montfort University.

Before we start the images incorporated into this blog below can be viewed much more clearly by watching this flicker slideshow in full screen or go directly too the  flickr Wordpress CV slideshow.

The image below gives you a snapshot view of the user view of the Wordpress CV blog that i envisage

WordPress CV Blog - User View

The following notes collate the main points that were addressed in our session.

Purpose of this Session

1. Highlight the use of Social media (wordpress) as a medium to organise CV information and Record Personal Development information. It is a career imperative to be organised.

2.  Highlight how WordPress (and other blogging platforms) can be adapted and used for many purposes. A Blog is a Blog is a Blog - No! Blog platforms are very flexible and with creativity they can be used for many different things.

Setup and thinking

1. Use this technique with any easily created Blog from

2. No programming skills required.

3. You can make wordpress Private to you! and that was and currently is my intention, whilst i am still building this site.

In any event, the intention is for it to be private, the idea is for you to organize your history, skills and assets in an easily getattable :-) format, in order to customize CV's as appropriate for the job in hand (which generally need to be completed in specific online or offline electronic application forms).

In this process of CV building you can give deeper consideration to the larger projects that you have worked on in your day to day work and use categorisation and tagging to indicate what skills, experience or knowledge they show evidence of. There will also be many smaller day to day skills and many professional developmental sessions that you have attended and that you can easily record in this way.

4. Once finalized the question that can more fully addressed, shall i make it public or parts of it public. Which may be an option, but was not the original intention. In our small discussion the idea was suggested that maybe the CV can be tailored in some way - this is something i will look to consider as i move on and see if there is a feasible way of doing this - I will report back.

Other questions - Can  a portfolio of electronic evidence be incorporated or should the portfolio be separate (can be organised using the same approach as i will outline in the following paragraphs).

Worpress Features, how they are used and Useful Strategies.

1. SELECT A THEME that suits your need. I was looking for a very simple theme. i chose Theme: Ari by Elmastudio

2. CATEGORIES AND TAGGING Tailor the theme so that the only widget displayed is the Category widget. You will be posting various information from your CV as a series of blog posts ORGANISED by category. Tagging can add a further element of organisation and cut across two or more categories. In my current theme I could add a tag cloud widget. I chose not to as i did not like the tag cloud widget, i prefer a list but this was not available. A list widget would probably have changed my mind. Perhaps it is simpler without it anyway (tag links are still listed at the bottom of posts)

3. CREATING CATEGORIES In the Admin view we need to create the CV categories. This can be done at the beginning in the post categories section (you could use the category menu image below which shows my categorization as i guide) or add the categories to the posts as i did whilst i was developing my thinking on how best to order my menu.

Menu - The ordered list of categories

If you look at the example menu above you will probably agree that the first four or five categories will be quite standard.  From 5-12 you may want to modify these categories to suit your particular circumstance and  to clarify and record your skills  You may have many strings to your bow e.g. examples of decisive management, examples of fostering positive change, examples of supporting people at work.

4. PRACTICAL TIPS for displaying and working with your CV

i) Use 01, 02.. etc at the start of category titles to order in a way that suits you - easy to change using quick edit. (Facilitates the Alphabetical menu order which you can control)

ii) This next two part tip, combined with the categorisation is probably the MOST IMPORTANT element to make this blogging tool useful for coherent organisation, both from a user view and from an admin view.

Part 1) Visually Number Posts at the start of the post title with the category number and the order within that category that you want. e.g. 7.1, 7.2, 7,3

Part 2) Change the blog post date to order the posts in admin view - each section has a category tag - a category (conceptually) can be assigned a month and year to order posts, posts within a category can be ordered further by the number of days in the month. So if there were two posts in our 01 Education category, I would make sure that both posts were dated March 2013 (previous month ago from the date of this post). Now for the first post i would set the date the March 30 and for the second March 29. Post dates are easily changed using QUICK EDIT. 

Thus the posts in admin and user views are now both visually and practically ordered for a coherent working environment.

Worpress Admin - A post in Quick edit mode with Date, category and Tags highlighted

5. Might have mentioned this earlier but The PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT element will encourage you to record examples of your everyday work that can be used as evidence to support essential and desirable requirements that you see listed in CV application documents. You can use these requirements to prepare for similar requirements in the future - eventually covering all basis.

Wordpress - Admin View


Can you think how this approach can be harnessed for other uses. I  think there could be quite a lot of applications. Possibles:

1. I have already mentioned - Use to build a portfolio either separately or within the CV.

2. As an educational programme builder for a team ( instead of a wiki maybe)

6. EXTRAS That came out of our small group discussion.

1. Good to give Employers the option to peruse through an online CV if they wish. A Paper based version would be overwhelming, but online CV in this manner could be more appealing and make it easier for employers to deleve further if they wanted to.

2. If made public (can be limited to a set few as well) - the comments boxes could be used for endorsements.


These notes were orginally to support a face to face show and tell presentation. I may try and setup an Dummy Wordpress CV site for anyone interested to get a better picture of how this works.

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