During #MOOCMOOC last week, someone coined a new phrase (at least for me): MOOCify. Basically the idea of turning a current class into a MOOC.
While I love the term, I'm not crazy about the underlying concept. It's not that I don't think it can be done, and it is not because I "distrust" MOOCs.
The reason I'm not crazy about the word MOOCify is that it misses out on a critical point: the MOOC is not for all audiences. Instead, I would rather talk about adapting the MOOC model. More specifically, I talk about taking the connectivist foundation of the MOOC, and the tools commonly used in a MOOC, to build a stronger (and more distributed) learning community revolving around a class.
Let me break my thought down using my class as an example.
To start with, the class I'm talking about is a College Level Freshman Biology class. These students are not ready for a MOOC (and yes, I'm sure about that assessment), and at most, they come in with a "NOVICE" level understanding of the topic. The course is therefore content heavy. None of this so far sets up a good MOOC environment. And the concept of a mechanical MOOC being used is just frightening; this class requires that context be woven with content to build a cognitive framework for higher level biology classes.
So, you have a group of students who require some "instruction", but need more to build their own learning and frameworks. So, taking the concept of blogs, discussions and feeds, build a learning network among members of the class. Open this network to the outside so others who are interested can join in the discussions and activities. Add to this a daily newsletter to keep the conversation going. I took tools from my MOOC experiences, opened the discussion to include new perspectives, and facilitated the discussion. It may be MOOCification, but I think of it more as adapting components that work for my goal.
Now we come to learning objects. Since this is content heavy, and I want outside participation, I have to include learning objects. For a little tangent...
During #MOOCMOOC I came across a common refrain of the MOOC being "organic" and needing no "central" space. I have no idea where this idea came from. All of the "successful" MOOCs I've either participated or lurked on have all had what I refer to as a touchstone, some virtual place where information, objects and artifacts can be found. Perhaps a centralized feed of participant comments, but always with a calendar of activities and some general guidelines. The connections made may be organic, but as we learn from biology, you need to have a scaffold to produce any useful form. So I firmly believe that you need to have some central virtual location.
So, learning objects. For some reason, I feel that this has become a dirty words. What is wrong with a vetted learning object, something which a facilitator/mentor/instructor can use to explain a concept, or even more importantly, start a discussion? Heck, I build learning objects, and yes, I'll open them to everyone (when they're ready).
Enough for now...