Making sense of MOOC conversations – #edcmooc

This word cloud was created out of the collective posts submitted to a discussion forum that is part of a new MOOC on E-Learning and Digital Cultures class that I started this week.

There are over 40K students engaged in this class.  Part of the week 1 materials was to watch 4 short videos that presented utopian and dystopian visions of technology.  Instructional staff jumpstarted discussion forums for each of these videos.  The above word clouds it related to a discussion on this particular video:

This particular discussion thread had over 100 messages in a little over a day.  How do you absorb the collective thoughts of so many?  What if there isn’t the ability to deeply engage and synthesize the conversation?  So I wondered could I extract the text of these messages and construct a word cloud out of them based on word counts?  Would that provide any insight?  Would it pull out some of the major themes from the discussion? Could it provide new insights or connections?  The image doesn’t capture the nuance of the conversation, but it does capture to big themes.

This image is for the discussion thread on Benito Machine III –

This image is for the discussion thread on Inbox –

So I’m not sure what this boiled down graphics say or what new connections are made.  But some cross themes that emerge are the relationships between technology, nature and humans.  The role it plays in communications and what we think.  The quest for newness.

For those who might have other strategies to test out, here is the compiled messages in text format from Thursday discussion thread.  My next experiment is to see if I can enlist folks in a collaborative theme mapping / tagging activity to see how that might work.