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Thursday, June 18 • 3:00pm - 3:30pm
CON07.07 - Finding a middle (MOOC) ground: Making space for a global community in the xMOOC

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Dave Cormier first introduced the term Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in 2008 and since then this ‘disruptive innovation’ has seen an increase both in the number of platforms and certainly in the number of course offerings. While it may be too early to properly measure the disruptive impact MOOCs have had, there is no denying that they have sent shock waves across higher education (Shirky, 2012). Whether as a response to budget constraints and efficiency seeking initiatives or as a gateway to innovative practices, MOOCs continue to create a large digital footprint on a global scale. At least two different pedagogical directions have emerged within the MOOC landscape (Rodriguez, 2013): content-based MOOCs (xMOOCs) often take a behaviourist, teacher-centered approach that is the target of numerous critiques, whereas connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) leverage autonomy, openness, connections and interactivity. cMOOCs seek to facilitate learning communities that come together in the exploration and discussion of topics of mutual importance. At the same time, cMOOCs have also been critiqued for their potential to alienate the novice online learners that a MOOC might attract (Brennan, 2013). Borrowing from the strengths of both MOOC approaches - that is, fostering meaningful connections between learners while accommodating a large and diverse audience of varying skill levels - was a key consideration in designing McMaster University's first MOOC on Coursera, Experimentation for Improvement. In this presentation, we will outline design decisions around the pedagogy, interface and learner experience that were implemented in the development process and as the course was being delivered in the summer of 2014. We will also speak to steps the design team took towards being inclusive of the global audience that a MOOC is able to reach. Participants will leave the session with several strategies for building community in large online courses while working within the constraints of an xMOOC platform or LMS.

Brennan, Keith (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: A Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. Retrieved from: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/

Rodriguez, O. (2013). The concept of openness behind c and x-MOOOCs. Open Praxis, 5(1), 67-73.

Shirky, C. (2012). Napster, Udacity, and the Academy. Retrieved from: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2012/11/napster-udacity-and-the-academy/

Thursday June 18, 2015 3:00pm - 3:30pm
Director Room

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