This just in: MOOCs are all the rage right now

As if you hadn’t seen the influx of moocyness over the last year.


MOOC (Photo credit: Sarah_G)

We’re now about halfway through the #ETMOOC experience, having launched Topic 3: Digital Literacy just yesterday. In the planning for this and the Digital Storytelling topic, I’ve been trying to get the “M” in MOOC to mean more than “Massive”. I want it to mean MAKE because, selfishly, I can consume and therefore learn more from the community when I’m engaged with the content. Plus, I believe in making = learning (yes, but it’s complicated 😉 In this case, the engaging content is less the blogposts and more the multimedia stories and reflections that are being produced using a plethora of tools. It’s not that the blogposts aren’t awesome, they are (and they include those multimedia stories), but they’re also another gigantic firehose of reading that I don’t have time for.

The makes are a firehose too, especially since the last couple of weeks we challenged the #ETMOOC community to make, make and make some more Digital Stories. And that firehose probably takes up as much time as reading posts would, but it feels less like consumption and more like idea gathering. Exploring other people’s creative works has been a highlight thus far in the ETMOOC experience.

The question is what might a Webmaker MOOC look like? And I have to say, I’m getting a lot of inspiration from the DS106 and ETMOOC stories. Last week I spoke with Alan Levine about his work both in DS106 and in general. He told me that the idea behind DS106 is that it’s a MOOC for Making. The Digital Storytelling topic in ETMOOC was all about making too. Both are loosely structured, just introducing topics and then supporting learners through crowd-sourced mentorship.

Some thoughts on a Webmaker MOOC:

  • Obviously, it would be a Maker MOOC – Interestingly, while writing this post, I did a quick search for “Maker MOOC”, which turned into a longer search and then a rather large shock when I realized that the term “Maker MOOC” hasn’t been used yet. MOOC Maker was a MOOC about making MOOCs, but that’s not what I’m talking about. So I guess I get to define “Maker MOOC”. I’d say it’s a MOOC in which participants make stuff centered around their interests (as the name implies).DS106 is a Maker MOOC, and it’s an inspiring story. The creators of DS106 were looking at it as an experiment. They wanted to see what would happen if they created a framework for storytelling using new media. They used Twitter to garner participation. They used their networks and existing audience to ask for contributions to the assignment and resource library, which led to participants dumping hundreds of ideas for assignments, and then building off each others ideas. It became a hub of creativity#DS106 #4life.This shouldn’t sound like a new idea, the Mozilla community is based on peers contributing ideas. So the Webmaker MOOC would be just another place where contribution will be key.
  • It would be expressly open – I know that everything we do is open, but a Webmaker MOOC would have to be very expressive about that fact so that mentors coming in without any knowledge of Mozilla other than “They build Firefox, right?” understand that not only are their contributions and ideas valuable, they’re integral to the success of everything we do. We need to figure out a make centered around the ethos (we’ve talked about that being missing for people).
  • We will have to let go – Once we’ve figured out an engaging baseline, we’ll have to let go. People will use their talents, share their thoughts, and if we try to control the conversation or the makes, we’ll be disappointed. There will be no rules, no class hours, no requirements. People will come to learn how to embed webmaking in educational practice, and they’ll do that through making.
  • Moderation will be key – One of the problems with truly massive MOOCs is that it’s very hard to make sure that each and every individual learner is getting the attention they need to motivate them to continue. It won’t be possible to moderate a gigantic group single-handedly, but there will need to be a group of people dedicated to checking in, responding, posting, tweeting, retweeting and otherwise spreading the word about the makes. We’ll have to work together to ensure that thousands of participants feel like they’re being heard.
  • We have an audience for this – no need to explain. We have an audience, and we can invite many, many other audiences to join in and become our audience. Using Twitter and some of the MOOC madness hashtags will find us plenty of people who are interested in the story a Webmaker MOOC would share. The one thing I shy away from on this front is creating another new thing for people to join. I’m thinking that we should invigorate some of our preexisting channels with content for mentors and encourage them to feedback into those channels (I’m thinking the Webmaker list and the Webmaker G+ Community).
  • We don’t know anything – It’s really important that we be open to not knowing. We can’t anticipate what will come out of a Webmaker MOOC. We can’t know if something magical will happen. We just have to try it and see. That was the intention of the ETMOOC and it’s exploded into a vibrant community of thinkers having conversations in and around edtech.

So what would you want to DO and MAKE in a Webmaker MOOC? What could you make that would give you confidence to teach webmaking? And if you think a Webmaker MOOC is a doofy idea, what would you suggest to serve as online professional development for mentors? How do we navigate the necessity for both online and offline engagement for mentors? How can offline events (for mentors) flow into the online space, and vice versa? How do we connect communities (as opposed to individuals) into this work?

Any thoughts you all have on a potential Webmaker MOOC would be super helpful! Feel free to comment here, or discuss with us in the Webmaker list 🙂

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