I’ll be giving a featured speaker presentation at the Asian Conference on Technology in the Classroom for IAFOR: The International Academic Forum at the Ramada Osaka this weekend. This is jointly held with the Asian Conference on Language Learning.
You can see the full program here, but here’s my abstract, a few thoughts on this process, and a preview to give you an idea of what I will present.
Title: Putting Massive Open Online Courses in Context for Educators.
Abstract: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) started in 2008 as a connectivist experiment in education with a participatory focus. Extremely large MOOCs were convened 2011, and the term took off in popular media reports in 2012. They have been hailed as “revolutionary” and disruptive to the status quo in higher education. However, the ideas behind MOOCs are not new. Moreover, as the practice has become fragmented, there is not a clear consensus on a coherent description of MOOCs. Still, these courses are part of our educational landscape and may benefit many learners. Educators need to understand the potential uses and abuses of MOOCs.
This presentation will review the current state of MOOCs, including a critical view of the hype and hopes that accompany this trend. This will help educators evaluate MOOCs and make informed choices about selecting courses, using them to augment their own teaching, participating in them directly, or even starting one. Participants will gain perspective and critical understanding of MOOCs and indicators for how they may change education in their contexts.
A few thoughts on process
I’ve been going through many versions of this talk for two reasons: personal and external. Getting a chance to be a featured speaker at a significant conference is a real privilege and a challenge. I wanted to do something great. In an early version, I tried working out doing the talk with just index cards and a single sheet of A4 for the attendees. Everyone is sick to death of PowerPoint, right? I’ve seen a few talks, Paul Nation as a JALT plenary a few years ago was a tour de force, where the speaker has just spoken. No slides, no graphics, no multimedia. Just the ideas. Done well, this can be very effective. Done poorly, it can be death-on-a-stick. So, back to the slide drawing board.
But the slides are the very last thing this time. I worked a little bit differently than I have on past presentations. This time, I really worked in an iterative way, wrote down much more of my talk, and spent a lot of time listening.
- Read everything I could for the past 6 months.
- Made a map of post-its on my office wall facing my desk. I had to look at the damn thing everyday and fiddle with it.
- Index cards and the failed attempt to go slideless.
- Write out the talk in outline form.
- Give the talk in the privacy of my home or office and record it.
- Listen to the recording on my way to or from work.
- Transcribe it back into the outline and edit.
- Re-record the talk. Listen. Edit again.
- Repeat Steps 5-9 four times.
- Make the slides.
Phew! Damn, I’m sick of listening to myself. But, I feel like I know the material much better and was able to edit my talk down from 46 minutes to a relatively speedy 35 minutes. Assuming a few live stumbles that should still allow at least 5-8 minutes for questions at the end of my 45 minute time slot.
The other problem
I really chose a horrible topic. It is almost impossible to estimate what experience or knowledge the attendees will bring to the talk. Luckily, I am last, so I have a chance to listen to everyone else and ask a few people about what they think about MOOCs before I speak, so I can adjust a bit.
I think the topic is interesting, relevant to the conference theme, and timely. But that last one has been killing me. It’s too timely. Every time I thought I had something nailed down, a new development popped up. Antioch College went with MOOCs, but then Amherst said no thank you. xMOOCs had an openness problem, but then EdX finally started offering a course under Creative Commons. Then, just a couple of weeks before my talk, there was the EDUCAUSE ELI Online Spring Focus Session 2013, “Learning and the Massive Open Online Course. Talk about a shifting landscape! Let’s hope nothing else goes through a transformation in the next five days.
So, my talk will be a snapshot. I’ll try to digest all of the reading I’m filing away in a Diigo group. (Please do check that out if you want to learn more about MOOCs.) I’ll bring in my own experience participating to one extent or another in four MOOCs. But, in the end, it is just too soon to to have all, or even many, of the answers. So, I’ll be presenting as a kind of live FAQ. Perhaps I should have called my talk…
29 Things You Wanted to Know About MOOCs, Dut Didn’t Even Know to Ask
- What does MOOC mean?
- How can we define MOOCs?
- How large is Massive?
- In what senses are MOOCs open?
- What do we really mean by Online?
- What goes in a Course
- Where did MOOCs come from? And, why now?
- What is a cMOOC?
- What is an xMOOC?
- What are some of the problems with MOOCs?
- What’s wrong with cMOOCs rooted in connectivism?
- What problems do both c and xMOOCs share?
- What about xMOOCs in particular?
- What about assessment?
- But really, who cares about assessment?
- Who are MOOcs good for?
- Who are MOOCs bad for?
- Will MOOCs reduce the cost of higher education?
- What about psMOOCs?
- How should we think about MOOCs?
- Has this happened before?
- Are there any success stories?
- What do these have in common?
- What should you do if (when) your institution asks you to run a MOOC?
- What if you want to organize a MOOC?
- What developments should we look for?
- Should you try it?
- Where can I find out more?
- How can we continue this discussion?
What if you know nothing and want to learn a little about MOOCs before the talk?
This would be a fine place to start.