Thursday, October 20, 2011

Behold, the D-MOOC!

What's a D-MOOC?

It's a DMACC-MOOC? A MOOC created by Des Moines Area Community College.

What's a MOOC?

A Massive Open Online Course. This video provides a good introduction to MOOCs:

Okay.......what!? And, more importantly, why?

We can house a large-scale seminar on an important topic (Let's say, Education) and create a space for people to get together, network, share information, and collaborate. They can watch videos, listen to lectures, read articles. It would be like a public square for like-minded (or, not like-minded) participants to work on a problem of importance to everyone. Whatever happens, happens.

But don't we already do this when.....

No. Sorry to cut you off. I'm really into this MOOC thing. They provide something new. A MOOC is free. It is open to everyone with an internet connection. There will be no grades, no credits, no assignments, no set approach for participants to adopt, no specific end goal.

Then won't people just slack off and do nothing?

And that would be different from "real" classes?

Good point.

If participation is voluntary, only those truly interested in the subject will join. They might be from Des Moines or from Zimbabwe. Together, the group would create a network of shared information, blog posts, tweets, ideas, discussions. People would meet new people, make new connections, read new articles, and potentially meet collaborators. In the end, a single website could serve as a log for what went on during the MOOC, which, as the video says, is more of an event.

It's like a conference, with three big exceptions: MOOCs usually last several weeks, everyone contributes (in can just lurk and look on if you want), and participants are encouraged to make something out of it. It's like a less-hedonistic Burning Man.

What counts as a successful MOOC?

Hard to say. I guess that it happened. Ideally, some new great idea, movement, or team emerges from it with a mission to make things better. Or, less optimistically, someone gains more knowledge on a subject and some small good comes of it.

So, why does this have to be a D-MOOC if some goat-herder from Switzerland can send a tweet with the hashtag #DMOOC without being a DMACC student?

Let's say the facilitators are from DMACC. The MOOC itself isn't affiliated with the school. It's just a website that keeps track of all the links and all the activity associated with the MOOC that occurs on distributed networks. The DMACC connection gives it a geographical home, creates the possibility of in-person gatherings if people so desire (and organize on their own) and allows DMACC and other Des Moines faculty to participate and encourage students to jump in and see what the fuss is about.

So, no DMACC credit here?

Well, nothing is stopping an instructor of, let's say, Intro to Education at DMACC or elsewhere, from working an assignment related to DMOOC into her course.

Hey, is it DMOOC or D-MOOC? You're being a little loose with the hyphen.

Not sure yet.

Are you sure they'll let you pun off the official DMACC name and use school affiliation as part of the project?

I never thought of that. I'll have to ask. I suppose we could think of the "D" as Des Moines. A Des Moines MOOC. It would be nice to have Des Moines area educators be the guest speakers. We could create video or audio panels and/or key note addresses. Actually, I'm kind of tired of talking to you. I'm going to get to work.

Wait, this all just a fantasy, or is DMOOC for real?

(sound of car door slamming and tires peeling away.)

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