“MOOC.” I googled this acronym a few times before I remembered it. Twitter taught me about www.coursera.org and linked me to articles by Thomas Friedman about this exciting development. A perfect fit for me: Stay-at-home mom, educator, life-long learner and technophile. A way to keep learning, to stay connected, and to be a student in this twenty-first-century learning paradigm. A gift from educators to the world.
I signed-up for “Fundamentals of Online Education” and entered the important dates into my iPhone calendar.
The hopeful beginning:: I accessed course videos and links, joined a group using a Google spreadsheet, and participated in introductory discussions. I connected to an educator in the Seychelles and followed the group from Paris with interest. Other students made plans to meet up to study. The estimated 40,000 other global learners were as excited as I was. We were united around the excitement of learning for the sake of...learning. Refreshing, invigorating, magical.
The interesting mess: The Google spreadsheet could not handle the volume of students and the small-group discussions, central to the course, were in jeopardy. Emails from the professor and her assistants followed, deadlines were extended, and #foemooc was critiqued by tech-savvy users.
And the irony is...: Yes, that’s right, a course about...teaching online courses...was cancelled because it could not handle its own platform.
And the moral of the story is...:
1. A MOOC can be powerful, but can it be engineered to meet the needs of so many diverse learners?
2. Does the technology exist to handle the enormous numbers and to provide unique and meaningful experiences tailored for individual students?