Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
Two perspectives on MOOCs. On the one hand, Matt Crosslin finds them difficult to understand. "I just don't have time to figure out how to use one. Yes, I will spend forever trying to figure out how to customize a WordPress app, but I won't take the time to figure out how to participate in a MOOC." And this is a problem. "If you have to take a mini-course on how to take your course, you are probably having to focus too much on the structure and not the learning." Which is actually, in my mind, a bit silly - after all, you have to learn to read to take just about any course, and that's a lot more preparation than watching a four-minute video. Perhaps it's difficult for Crosslin because there's so much unlearning to do.

We have, as a contrast, Jim Shimabukuro who sees clearly how it works and contrasts it with the dojo model for student organized learning. "Compare this to a typical class in most U.S. schools and colleges. When the teacher is not present, nothing happens or, worse, chaos reigns. In colleges, students are usually free to leave if the instructor fails to show up after so many minutes. This never happens in a dojo... if the top instructor, the sensei, is absent, the highest ranking student present runs the class. If none of the black belts are there, then the highest ranked brown belt takes the lead. Even when only two white belts show up for class, training continues."

It's about attitude and approach. If you're looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 10:44 a.m.