If you have not heard about MOOCs, then you have been hiding under a rock. MOOCs are massive open online courses. It is possible to sit in on course with a 100,000 other people to learn about a myriad of topics. I personally participated in three MOOCs and completed one, I wanted to understand more so I could improve my completion rate. I started to do a little research and found Ignatia Inge deWaard‘s book, MOOC YourSelf – Set up your own MOOC for Business, Non-Profits, and Informal Communities*. First of all, I found this book to be highly informative as well as a pleasant read. deWaard certainly did her homework in preparing the book. If you are interested in MOOCs, I would recommend this as a primer to what you are getting into. It also clearly demonstrates that almost anyone can put together a MOOC.
My only critique of the book is there were no chapters. For someone who is used to chapters, I found the absence to be distracting. Small point but noticeable.
In the beginning of the book, deWaard defined MOOC and explained the differences between MOOC types such as cMOOC and xMOOC. She also provided detailed information on the key players in the MOOC arena.
deWaard also discussed the benefits and downsides of MOOCs. For each of these, she provided a detailed list of attributes or negative points. From this point, she addressed best practices. While looking at best practices, deWaard touched on learning strategies, content design, learner needs, course needs, infrastructure, and guides and facilitators.
I was pleased to see she addressed one of the areas that I was really interested in. deWaard provided great advice for dealing with the overwhelming nature of MOOCs. She pointed out that it was important to develop self-directed learning skills. It was important to realize that there are different types of MOOC participation: lurking, intermediate interaction, or memorably active. More importantly, you do not have to do everything. Along with this section, she provided practical guidelines for participating in MOOC discussions.
“Where the learner actively finds a balance between all of life’s challenges (work, family life, personal characteristics and capacities, regional challenges, needs, etc.) to improve their own knowledge, they achieve an optimized lifelong learning strategy” (deWaard, 2013, Self-Directed Learning, para 7).
deWaard provided practical advice for training and utilizing facilitators and coordinators. Her instructions would provide a nice checklist of topics to cover when using others to help manage the course. One of they key areas addressed was how to use the facilitators to help keep the course going.
deWaard also provided a basic overview on different learning strategies such as constructivism, connectivist learning, networked learning, problem-based learning, and flipped instruction.
Another important area deWaard covered was how to get started preparing a MOOC. She provided guidance for partnering with other agencies to going it alone. Different tools from LMSs to RSS feeds were covered. Many of my favorite tools were highlighted to include Twitter, blogging, wikis, social bookmarking, presentation sharing, virtual meetings, etc.
deWaard covered a lot of ground with this book, and I think she did a great job! If you are interested in MOOCs either as a participant or a facilitator, then this book is for you. There is a wealth of advice regardless of what role you choose.
Let me know if you have read it and what you think.
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