In this paper, we explore the benefits and challenges of open courses through a case study of several credit and non-credit courses offered over the past two years. In it, we examine our own as well as student experiences in Connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) and open-boundary courses, in order to develop a beginning framework for the facilitation of these types of classes.
Specifically, this paper centres on three particular courses with which the authors have been involved. The first, EC&I 831, is an open access, graduate level course in educational technology offered through the Faculty of Education at a Canadian university; the course, which was first offered in 2008 and has been described as a precursor to the MOOC movement (Siemens, 2008), is offered for credit but allows for open access to non-registered participants and revolves heavily around networked learning. The second course, ETMOOC, was a cMOOC about educational technology that was offered in the winter of 2013 and attracted over 1800 participants worldwide. Finally, the third course, DCMOOC, was another cMOOC about digital citizenship; it was sponsored by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education as an opportunity to allow Saskatchewan educators to learn about teaching digital literacies.
Each of the courses mentioned above relied heavily on personal learning networks and student-created connections. Although these courses all featured weekly synchronous sessions, the bulk of the courses played out in asynchronous spaces such as Twitter, student blogs, and Google Plus communities, and much of the learning was self-directed and determined by individual students’ interests. As such, open courses such as these tap into connectivist models of pedagogy (Siemens, 2004) and utilize the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies by making use of networks and social learning (Cormier, 2008). However, such courses also present unique challenges for both instructors and students, especially with respect to student motivation, comfort level, and willingness to take risks.
As such, based on our own work in the facilitation of open courses as well as the feedback and reflections of students, we explore the overall experience of participation in this type of networked learning as well as offering a framework for the successful development of similar courses.
Cormier, D. (2008). Rhizomatic education: Community as curriculum. Innovate, 4(5). Retrieved 27 May 2008, from http://www.innovateonline.info/index. php?view=article&id=550
Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved 5 January 2008 from www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Siemens, G. (2008). On finding inspiration. Retrieved 30 June 2008, from http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/?p=25