I’ve started my second MOOC through Coursera, herein labelled as #sdtmooc, which is its putative Twitter hashtag.
This is a significantly different experience from #edcmooc, the University of Edinburgh course I took previously. That was a constructivist learning experience, with a core of highly engaged participants who met and discussed virtually outside of the Coursera discussion forum ecosystem. This isn’t.
What follows now will appear critical – let me be clear, any criticisms are not of the course leader, or indeed of the content, more about the way in which the course is set up to run.
The course is written by Henry Lucas of University of Maryland, and would appear to be based on his textbook on the subject “The Search for Survival”.
Topics covered so far include the survivor model, the innovator’s dilemma, sustaining and disruptive technologies, the box score, organisations, and the demise of Kodak. This will be followed by lectures on the demise of Blockbuster and Borders. The minute that Clay Shirky’s phrase “Napster moment” is used is the time I will quit the course.
Structure and delivery
For #sdtmooc each week is divided into two classes, each of which has 4 short video lectures associated with it. Which when you join then together ,make 2 individual 1 hour lectures, so this doesn’t seem to be doing anything to challenge any educational paradigm. Each video lecture has a single multiple choice question embedded into it to check understanding. Or at least to check if you have been listening for the previous 8 minutes.
The video lectures consist of PowerPoint slides, with a talking head in the bottom corner, and some annotations made to slides as they are delivered. Not wildly exciting.
At the end of each class, participants are asked to use the discussion forums, to both start discussions and comment on those of others. One activity was to list your top 3 technical innovations of the last 25 years, with the reasons why chosen, and then to comment on the suggestions of others. A lot of participants identified the internet. This clearly ignores the fact it is over 25 years old, and their view of it was wholly utopian (shades of #edcmooc creeping in!).
As so often, I found the level of discussion disappointing and intellectually naive. But I accept that this is criticism of myself – I have no way of knowing the previous experience or expertise of other participants.
Honestly? The subject matter is interesting, and when we are hearing all the time that MOOCs are a disruptive technology that will affect Higher Education, this would seem to be a relevant course to take.
But I could have learned as much by reading the book. The course so far offers no more than a distributed version of a slightly dull traditional lecture course. The discussion forums have yet to take off with any detailed critique or analysis. And Twitter – well maybe I was spoiled with the way in which participants in #edcmooc used it, but so far there appears to be little happening to excite the twitterati!
I’ll carry on for another week, downloading the PowerPoint files for later reference.