Over the summer a couple of the interns we recruited to work at IT Services, University of Oxford have been working with IT Services staff and academic colleagues to create a new website which draws together in one place all of the Oxford massive online open collections (MOOCs), open educational resource (OER) initiatives, open science, open source and open data projects. Oxford began publishing OER in 2009. The work over the last 5 years includes everything from podcasts to crowdsourcing schemes, educational materials to whole digital archives.
The site serves as an excellent showcase of projects and initatives which have taken a proactive and deliberate approach to openness in line with the University’s mission to maintain and enhance its standing as a university of international reach in teaching, research and knowledge dissemination.
I wrote a while ago about MOOCs as an extreme sport in a post called MOOC X-Games.
“Engaging in MOOCs was always a bit of a leap into the unknown, colleagues who MOOC look like they have been engaging in a high adrenalin extreme sport. They come back grinning from ear to ear. For them it has been a total rush.”
Perhaps this is what the X in xMOOC and EdX actually stands for, these are the new education x-games and there’s a hunger for it.
“Putting yourself out there, not knowing how it will feel, managing the experience of mediating learners in their thousands and surviving unscathed. They want to do it again and again, and they want to know ‘what’s next?’
They also recognise the role of support teams who made it possible. The striking benefit for institutions, beyond the increased dopamine levels of the individual teaching academic, is the renewed boost to the engagement of academic colleagues with the learning technology/ edtech/ instructional design/ media production teams on campus.
When you are standing at the top about to jump, the support teams play a vital part in getting you there safely and supporting you when things get hairy. They do the heavy lifting, they test the equipment, they’ve got your back. They do their best to help you manage the the high number of inherently uncontrollable variables. They give you the best advice they can on environmental conditions based on expertise and the best data they have.
Once you have had that experience together, you want to do more, you spread the word, you tell others how much fun it is, you encourage them to try too. There is now a queue of people, mustered, kitted up and ready step out into the void.
As with sport, whilst traditional educational success criteria may be adopted when assessing performance, extreme teaching performers tend to reject unified judging methods, with different MOOCs employing their own ideals and having the ability to evolve their activities with new developments in the space. That is what makes it edgy, the experience will be different every time.”
Discussion around MOOC planning is mostly concerned with sustainability, guessing how many times a course can run, how it can be monetized, how long its shelf life will be, how it can be broken down for parts and re-used.
It is great to see some MOOCs such as the University of Edinburgh Understanding the Referendum FutureLearn MOOC which pay no heed to that. It is a one-time only, once in a lifetime, global-reach MOOC designed to get real engagement and learning around a significant geo-political event which needs an informed and thoughtful citizenry*.
Sense-making in a maelstrom. That’s what universities are for. That’s our role in the digital space. Much credit must go to Amy and the teams involved in getting it to this point.
I’m kinda glad we don’t have to run it more than once though. This referendum has been invigorating, extreme, exciting but exhausting. I hope all the MOOC learners who can, will vote tomorrow.