MOOC to cultivate networked textbook Part 2 – experience U a practical example

Because we had nothing else to do, we launched a new (maybeM)OOC this week. It’s called Experience U and it’s intended for first time university students. You can check it out at It will hopefully help address the many, many questions that students have in preparing themselves for the university experience. I tried to run it before, 2 years ago, but i clearly didn’t have the concept clear in my head. I’ve been interested in running a MOOC with high school students, but have been struggling for an approach.

In my last two blog posts I’ve covered the idea of using a MOOC to cultivate a textbook and the different ideas of openness, both, i think, are lessons that inform the structure of this project. From the textbook perspective (from hereon in I’ll call it ‘the guidebook’) it gives us the organizers something to work towards from an artifact perspective. It provides focus for the team. It provides a fall back if the M part of the MOOC doesn’t quite come together. It gives a good solid reason to keep coming back year after year. From an ‘open’ perspective, I’ve spent so much time thinking about open source (even though in cases like gmail and collaborate i overlook it) that I missed the other side of open. The ‘widening participation’ side of open. That’s why we’ve chosen to run the course in facebook this time.

The Open Course (maybem)OOC
We’re running the official part of the course for five weeks starting April 25th. We’ve got some pre-canned videos that do an overview of the topics for each week and are going to do a live session that we are going to post. We are also going to have an assignment that students can optionally do each given week.

We originally had some pieces in a wordpress blog and were going to do a few other things… but we’ve changed our mind. Facebook only. I think the more complication we throw at it the more difficult it’s going to be to keep everything going.

Video response
We’re going to try and answer every (most) questions we get with a video response by a student. A student for a student as it were. We’re doing this in part, obviously, because we’d like people to share those videos around, but we’re also looking for that daily content that can lead to people getting absorbed enough in the process to start getting some of the culture of university. I’m hoping that this excess of student voice might provide that for some of the participants.

Getting the word out
This is tricky. We’re running a few facebook ads, some newspaper ads (yes, i know that’s odd) and stuff for this. I got a grant to run this project and am near the end of the funding and am hoping to prove that it has value enough to get more support down the line. The simple fact is that my social networks aren’t so connected to the target market for this course… So it’s making that part interesting.

The Networked textbook
We’re designing a flexible html5-ish design for the guidebook that should be responsive to any screen/platform. We’re going to pull in some of the videos were using the answer straight up questions, but I’m also hoping that we can pull from assignments and discussions to build a richer artifact that both reflects a successful project (he says) and can be helpful to students anywhere on their way into university for the first time.

Having built a hundred webpages to help people do things… having the MOOC there next year as a curation engine is really encouraging. I’ve gotten to the point where i hate building information pages because I always seem to come back to them a few years later to find a pile of deadlinks and outdated info. The goal here would be to run that MOOC ever year and rebuild that guidebook along with it.

Another experiment with the internet to see what we can do with it. I’m slowly getting comfortable with the idea of it all going on on facebook… which, frankly, i was pretty resistant about when we started. My staff convinced me. I always say that you shouldn’t confront people who are only partially invested with two unknowns. Facebook is a comfortable space for the students i’m hoping to work with… this time i go to them.

Author: dave

I run this site... among other things.

3 thoughts on “MOOC to cultivate networked textbook Part 2 – experience U a practical example”

  1. So I like the idea of organizing this around questions, and the idea of video responses, but I struggle to understand why do it as a “course” per se. What immediately jumps to my mind is a site like StackOverflow or Quora that allows both the questions and answers of the community of students (and profs and whoever else) that are important to them to rise to the surface. I don’t get why this would be a “course,” e.g. have a beginning and end start time. Surely there are multiple times of the year that the intended learners might find this useful, and it seems like it could be valuable to more than just the prospective students. Anyways, my $0.02, likely worth even less!

    1. It’s a fair point scott… and maybe i’m using the word (m)ooc out of habit, but i find the idea of a course rather liberating. I was a very bad manager for edtechtalk, I found (and technically still ‘find’ as i don’t think i was ever properly relieved of duty) being partially responsible to a community that doesn’t end very intimidating given the other commitments I have on the go.

      I read the word ‘course’ perhaps a bit too much as a frenchman… with lots of ‘the road to travel’ in it.

  2. I really like the second iteration of this project, Dave! Thanks for sharing.

    I think the platform works for the purpose, but above all, I see the need for it. The college experience and norms are so different from high school, that a soft introduction like this can go a long way in introducing students to the university culture and what this new experience in their life may be like… and not just for UPEI but for a lot of other institutions around the world. Texas is doing a lot of work around college readiness, and a lot of that focuses on traditional content: “What do students need to know to be able to do X” translates to discipline-specific objectives, but I would love to see that take a more holistic preparatory perspective like the one you are tackling here.

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