Thursday, May 24, 2012

Never learn alone! Groups can rescue the impersonal MOOC experience

Udacity - Free Classes. Awesome Instructors. Inspiring Community.

Udacity is a MOOC - Massively Open Online Course

I love this courses. I started with PLENK and then lurked DS106 (for LIFE!) and now I'm really loving Udacity Computer Science courses.

I could list out the things I love about them. Boring! Here is something that I don't like...

They don't offer student support enough. Sure there are discussion boards - which are helpful. The videos are great and clearly explain and I can watch them over and over... But what I really want is direct contact with an instructor.

Well, actually, I really just want my questions answered or something explained in a different way. Discussion boards are good for this, but there is something missing. They are too big and impersonal.

I want to learn with my friends and colleagues. I want to get into my my learning comfort zone, the sweet spot of learning or the zone of proximal development.

The ZPD is the space between what I can do on my own - that's how I interact with MOOCs now - and what I can do with help from an instructor or more capable peer.

Here's my point - I'm not going to do another MOOC unless I have a group of people committed to doing it with me BEFORE I join up.

These MOOC's aren't really anything new - it's just eLearning- perhaps polished and nicer features - free and HUGE. But, I'm realizing the BEST part of eLearning was the side chat, the backchannel that goes on.

I'm missing that in my MOOC experience.

So now what: I tried to start a group on for CS 253, but I didn't really get any takers. I was already falling behind in the course, so I wasn't updating and working on stuff (now I'm just scanning the videos and now working the problems)

Perhaps another group. I'm looking at this Human Computer Interface course starting in a few weeks. Maybe you would like to join a group of folks to power thru the course together. To increase the Zone of Proximal Development. Never learn alone!

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