Success in a MOOC: An Extension of Dave Cormier’s Recommendations

Dave Cormier has done excellent thinking on network-enabled learning and knowledge building and he has created really useful tools and sign posts to help others engaged in such learning endeavors. One of these is a brief video that helps new participants in a MOOC get the lay of the land for this new learning format. When I found “Success in a MOOC”  during my first cMOOC experience, I felt like I’d found that secret guide to the new foreign land I’d just travelled to.

Dave nicely details 5-key steps to MOOC participation that provide some sense of how the journey can be embarked upon.  One must orient, declare, network, cluster, and focus. I encourage you to watch the video to get the full details on these steps. I now have a number of network-enabled learning experiences under my belt and these steps certainly have replicated themselves to some degree in each environment..

During a recent Collaborative Exploration on Running deep learning communities hosted by the Critical & Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston, a discussion emerged about how to support learners in MOOCs and other self-motivated learning spaces find their sense of purpose and agency. A version of this conversation was also part of Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning MOOC. Add to this that a few months earlier, an online seminar on Personal Learning Networks run by the MSLOC program at Northwestern engaged participants in an exercise that asked them to define personal learning goals for the seminar.

These discussions had me considering a couple of additional step that might expand upon Dave’s fine core. Specifically, a pre-step (prepare) and a post-step (reflect).  PREPARE helps participants start to think about their reasons and goals for participating in any new learning endeavor. The PREPARE step might include questions like these:

  • What type of learning experience are you looking for?
  • What are your learning goals?
  • How confident are you that you will meet these goals?
  • What barriers or challenges do you think you will encounter?
  • What could you put in place to minimize the barriers or challenges?
  • What additional supports or resources do you think you will need?

Just as one needs some time to think and get ready for a learning journey, one should take some time at the end to REFLECT and understand what the journey was about. This not only helps solidify the learning experience, but creates a foundation for future leanring.  The REFLECT step questions might include:

  • Did you meet your learning goals?
  • Did your goals change? If so, how?
  • What supports did you find or use during this process?
  • What challenges did you find during this process?
  • Do you have new learning goals as a result of this experience? If so, what are they?
  • How will act on meeting these new goals?

My colleagues in the Critical & Creative Thinking Program will be testing out the full 7-step process with the upcoming Learning Creative Learning MOOC offered for by the Media Lab at MIT. We will see how it goes.

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