Discovery of the MOOC

by Tatiana Luna

This is so cool.  Today is the first time I read about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  There have been several others to date besides the first link, often with a couple thousand registered students, such as Digital Storytelling, mobiMOOC (on mobile learning), and Personal Learning Environments (PLN), Networks, and Knowledge.  They are completely free and on the edge of the revolutionary.

The idea behind these courses, reflected in the way they are structured, is that one can learn not only the content (since there is way too much of it to memorize anyway), but the medium of the Internet itself best through practice.  These courses require students to utilize the many tools the Internet has offered us; To take the distributed content of the Internet and make sense of it, organize it, write about it, criticize it, and create something new.  And since these courses are free and open to all, one is in complete control of one’s learning.  The MOOC seems to me to be an incarnation of the Internet’s inherent power to teach, even as it provides the space for free expression.  This model is quite opposed to the traditional model that makes a chore of learning, and which I think often botches it up.

The description of How the Course Works for Connectivism and Connective Knowledge speaks to my strong desire to “tame” the Internet.  The Internet often makes me feel ADD, sometimes lost, often overwhelmed, as I click from one thing to the next, as my eyes are caught by objects on the page that are more eye catching than the text, as I run across words and concepts that I missed the birth of.  I am fascinated by this new terrain.  I can imagine what some kind of expertise of navigating and utilizing the Internet looks like from watching my husband Christopher; I see in him and others a meta perspective on content linked between different sites like a mind map;  I can see how the linking ability of the Internet mirrors the map of connections in the brain of an expert.  I see how the Internet allows anyone to become an expert on almost anything.  With little time to myself over the past couples years I have been frustrated in the difficulty of practicing this skill of connecting.

I hope to sign up for the next available MOOC.  Of course, the content from all of the previous courses is still available, but to be involved in the ongoing evolution of a course must be exciting.