Change MOOC ebook – The textbook as product and artifact

The idea of a MOOC was really a response to something that was already happening. I was talking to Stephen Downes and George Siemens in the summer of 2008 after their landmark CCK08 course had crossed the 1500 mark in registration (i think it ended north of 2300) and they asked me to play along with them. I was particularly interested (and still am) in one of the few things that the three of us always agree on. Bigger is different. Scale matters. If this has 2000 people in it… what does it mean? What if it’s 5000 or 50000? Does it start to shift the balance of what people believe in a field? Does it just clog up the internet (for people in that field) while it’s running? How do you facilitate to that many people?

We’ve come up with some of the answers to those questions I think… my responsibility in that first MOOC was to moderate the Friday discussion sessions, and while i’m not happy with how I did those, I’ve since come up with some ways of moderating lots of people that has the chance of keeping people engaged. Live slides might be a little hairy… but it certainly can work. The truth is, though, I still have many, many things that I don’t understand yet.

The one issue i want to try and address in the MOOC that starts this fall, and have failed miserably at before, is the concept of archiving these courses. You might ask why i would want to do such a thing… and to be honest I’m not 100% sold on the value of it, but i think that the work of so many people is worth the effort of trying. How can people interact with the course when they weren’t following along? How do you navigate through all the sessions… the ideas? I think the method/mechanism for organizing people to engage (or follow along) in a course is fundamentally different than asking them to look at it after the fact.

What hasn’t worked for me so far – weak curation

The two things that i took a run at, tagging/aggregating and ‘community curation’ never really got out of the gate. In the first instance I made an attempt to feed all the content i could find into an aggregation site. It was a mess… I couldn’t even look at it and make sense of it. There was simply too much there. As for the community curation… i never really found a way to get people excited about it. I don’t think i explained it very well. I had hoped that people would create their own OER pieces to contribute back to the community. It may be that the topic – Futures of Education – might have been a tad esoteric.

My plan for the ebook
As of now i have a plan for an ebook to follow along with the the change MOOC this fall and winter. We are going to have dozens of facilitators, each coming in for one week to talk about something that is important to them. We’ve asked each of the facilitators to give us a 500-1000 word piece that describes the work they are going to talk about. This will form the foundation of the ebook. Each chapter (assuming everyone is ok with it) will include thinker details along with this introduction. After that, I’m hoping to curate some of the responses done by the community during that week. Interesting blog posts, artifacts… that sort of thing. Not sure about how i’m going to do this yet. The third thing that was suggested, and I”m really not sure about, is a group edited response to the ideas. I have no faith that this is possible to facilitate… but i’m willing.

So. a Chapter is…

1. author details
2. 500-1000 word description
3. curated links
4. group edited response (maybe)

It’s going to be a big job… and a long one considering the length of the course. I’m hoping for help… particularly with the link curation. I’m also interested in other people’s ideas. What else should be included? formats?

I realize that i’ve complained about books in the past. Just sayin’

My dream of an open course – Bob Dylan MOOC

As people have become fond of mentioning, i have alot going on right now… and don’t have the time to take on another project. But I have a project in my head that i’d really, really like to try. I want to do a bob dylan open course.

My feelings about how knowledge gets created are strewn all around this blog, so i wont torture you with it. Suffice it to say that i think curriculum can come from membership in a network.

What i’d like to do is have an open course that ran for a period of time (in order to get people places, i think ‘eventedness’ is an important part of learning) lets say 12 weeks. Each week would have a theme, maybe we would wander through the different incarnations of dylan following along with the I’m not there film. Maybe through different concepts that keep recurring.

But imagine what this means about learning. It means that people with common interests come together to ‘learn’ stuff, consciously. You’d have some people who were new to dylan, looking for a way into understanding what all the fuss is about. Other folks who maybe have heard the canon and think maybe they’d like a little more. And then some other folks who might be a bit more engaged with the lyrics, the style… whatever.

A learning ‘community’ (i use this word lightly in this instance) with no other purpose but to come together and learn about something. No financial attachment, no credit, no asessment.


Yes… so. The so is about scale. Think about this as 2000 people who came together to learn about dylan. Think about how these things get routed, how subsets get formed, how people splinter, other communities form that then go on existing passed the actual event.

I think the idea is really exciting… and I want to try it sometime. Just as a landscape to discuss how learning can happen if nothing else… not to mention all the great tunes.

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