Course into Community? Community into Forever?  Amen.


Fostering Peer Connections to Make MOOCs Personal

It takes more than just engaging content to have a successful MOOC. Through an inquiry-based process, our partner The Friday Institute discovered that offering multiple ways for participants to connect during the MOOC led to more positive outcomes. “The success of the course hinges on meaningful peer connections.

I have very mixed feelings about the results of this MOOC as reported here. First, I am very glad some folks are trying to make online courses more MOOC-like by adding technology like Voxer and Google Hangouts on Air to the mix. But… it is still a “course”, a top-downed entity, just as hierarchical and just as rooted in the needs of those who have created the course as any online course has ever been. And that is fine but it is not to be confused with something like #CLMOOC or any other connectivist MOOC that values the making of meaning rather than the re-discovery of others’ meaning.

Second, I am struck by the effort these folks went toward marketing their approach. I wish we had done the same after CLMOOC. The good news is that we still could. Maybe it is being done and I am just out of the loop. If so, then let me know how I can help. When I see the bragging being done about adding two community channels, I ask myself, “How many channels were our community members using?” And, of course, the answer is, “As many as were called for.” To my connectivist mine the issue is to make the course better but making the community better. I am reminded of something Jim Groom once said in passing (and I very loosely paraphrase690004-S0 here) that he wanted to create communities of forever and not courses for now. If he didn’t say that then I claim it as my own because that is what I want to do. The big question is whether or not I can do that for courses I am teaching right now. Do I just add a few channels to my existing course (a G+ community and Remind channel for every course I teach like I do now) or do I create a “forever” community? Is that even possible given the constraints we work under?

No matter, I hail the work of the folks at Learning Differences MOOC for Educators (MOOC-Ed) for trying. Now if only the content of their course could change based upon the wisdom of their community, if only iconoclasts with different views about ‘mindset’ and ‘learning styles’ were also allowed to shape the course and the community, if only…then you have something approaching a community. Maybe that happened for MOOC-Ed. I would to learn more about that if they did. Mostly, I want folks to know more about the learning miracle called CLMOOC.

#clmooc (1)


  1. // Reply

    Terry I suppose all my teaching is based around enabling community or at least enabling wider connections to grow from “classes” – it is about identifying, gathering, training faciltators who can open doors into new communities.

    It is a long painstaking task…preparing the ground. When u see a few flowers pop up – it keeps u going.

    Thank you for your part in my nurture.

    1. // Reply

      You should pick Daniel Bassill’s brain. He has gone down this “enabling community” path way longer than any of us AND he cares. I think it would be a great picnic if you two got together. I would be happy to facilitate.

        1. // Reply

          Gimme a good time for you and I will talk to Daniel.

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