Quick reminder: I’m using the EDC MOOC as part of a longer, onground college class. I have been writing about how my students are responding to the MOOC.
Today, we went over the Final Assessment for the MOOC. We looked at Hamish’s introductory video, read the “What You Need To Do” section, and looked at a few of the samples from the previous runs of the EDC MOOC to begin to generate ideas.
They were intimidated.
I think their feelings might have come from Hamish’s discussion of some participants saying the final assessment is too easy, and his encouraging people to look at the samples. “Then tell me it’s too easy,” he is, in a sort of ominous half-whisper.
That’s mostly a joke. I don’t think Hamish’s tone is what intimidated them. I think it was seeing the samples, even just briefly. They seemed to get the sense that that they needed technical skills beyond the ones that they possess. I tried to calm their fears by discussing some of the links to the online tools on the “What You Need To Do” page, and how they might use them. (For example, with Animoto, they can create create nice looking videos. Weebly is good for posting text-based pages with embedded images or links or videos.)
It’s interesting to me that their initial reaction is to be intimidated. I talked, too, about how they can consider the final assessment as representative of what the MOOC is trying to do: get them to think about alternative ways to be educated. There’s no professor to grade their final projects; they will be graded by one another, in keeping with the cMOOC feel of the course. There’s no “paper” to write; they can think about how one can show what one has learned through something other than a traditional text-based essay. I still didn’t have the sense that they were comfortable with things, but I hope I gave them something to think about as they walk the labyrinth in their minds.
A couple of things stand out for me as I reflect in today’s class:
1) I have said it before when talking about teaching with technology: for my own students (and, I think, for many young people), they know what they know, and they know it very well. But they have no idea how much they don’t know, and when they encounter something new, they do so skittishly. I suppose this is just basic educational psychology, where we encounter something new and try to deal with it in terms of what we already know (Scheme Theory?). See a multi-modal assignment and think about it in terms of text-based assignments that are typically required of them. I think it’s one more point against the idea of “digital natives” (not that we needed more points). Their first reaction isn’t joy at being able to play around online.
2) As I’ve said before, I’m very interested in the idea of Hybrid MOOCs — using an existing MOOC to supplement or replace the content of an onground course, as I am doing with EDCMOOC. I’m especially interested in the role I would play as the teacher in such courses. I think it will change for every class, though my role in this class is rapidly taking shape. I am trying to stay in the spirit of the course, and allow them to learn from each other and other members of the MOOC, more so than from me. I have tried to make it clear that I don’t have The Answers for this MOOC. They will need to generate answers themselves, with the help of their MOOCmates. The role I am playing is Guide. I have taken MOOCs, and online classes, and I have taken and taught dozens of classes, and so I know how to approach a structured learning situation, even one as non-traditional as EDCMOOC. So the advice I have been giving is more about how to learn, where to find information, how to approach a discussion, how to break down an assignment. I think this is certainly related to #1 above — I know how to learn, and it doesn’t intimidate me, because I’ve been through enough difficult situations that I know I’ll find a solution somehow, at some point.
Which has me thinking about how much time I spend with students teaching them how to learn. It’s not easy to do, mostly because I’m almost always pressed for time with content. If I have to choose between What I want them to learn, and teaching them How to learn it, I’m going to focus on the What, and assume (or hope) that they know How. Maybe I need to rethink that from here, for all of my classes. Maybe they’ll get more What if I give them a little How.
One last thing: at the end of class, I asked them to give me a quick show of hands: How many of you would drop this MOOC if I wasn’t requiring it?
Nearly all of them raised their hand.
I’ll need to think about that one some more….