Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quitting #edcmooc

I'm going to delete these MOOC blogs in a couple of weeks because they aren't interesting.

Gave up #EDCMOOC, but may browse the remaining two weeks of content, because:
  • The induction was poor and the first week I was completely confused about what to do.
  • The assessment was not made apparent until week 2, when it turned out to be "whatever you're having yourself" and to involve something which would be very time consuming to do well (a "digital artefact" with the examples produced by full time students in week 2, and I bet they took a good bit of time to create… They mainly involved recycling the confusion of the MOOC participants)
  • The navigation remained unclear although they did add a page to try to help the confused. Why isn't it responsive to your progress? The design involved a great deal of scrolling and remembering.
  • It didn't do what it said on the tin. It wasn't about ELEARNING and digital cultures, it was in fact about linguistic structuralism and ideas of humanism. 
  • There was far too much content and much of it was duplicated or same-y. There was too much video which is time consuming because you can't scan it like text to find out if it is worthwhile. Content needs to be more clearly signalled as crucial, core and optional.
  • The time effort was way underestimated at 3-4 hours per week
  • The forums were full of thousands of people making introductory comments. Hard to find the popular threads where any concrete points were being argued.
  • Because I found the first week so confusing, which took a lot of time, I never got around to trying the study groups. They may be the answer.
  • The introductory hangout was disastrous in signal to noise ratio.
  • There was lots of confusing antonymic argument - black and white is never interesting. 
Bottom line, I wasn't learning anything I found useful, so last night I sewed my veg seeds instead of sitting down to the computer…

One interesting point. Some MOOC proponents believe they are actually marketing tools for the institution's conventional courses. I had considered trying to find time/money to do the Edinburgh MSc based on some of the student work I've seen but definitely would not follow that option up now. I think that's a good thing, both for me and for Edinburgh!

One sad point. There was actually no content I saw other than Clay Shirky's piece, which I'd already read previously, that I have felt the need to bookmark or remember from this MOOC. Steve Fuller's TED talk was a great 15 minute summary of ideas on what it is to be human, but this isn't what I thought we were going to be learning about... 

Would I have been better off just looking at TED talks with the time I spent on #edcmooc? Probably.


  1. Hi Imogen. I have also thought about and suffered the EDCMOOC, but I stuck with it - maybe out a warped sense of "well, it'll get better soon" or "40+k can't be wrong, perhaps it's just me" type of mentality, but I also think I stuck with it more because it's different and I want to try new things (both the MOOC, completing a MOOC, and the subject itself).

    Some of the videos I've seen before, some I've even blogged about, and the reading material ranged from the obvious, obscure, to the down-right bizarre.

    You may have seen a tweet from me last week asking how long people were actually spending on the MOOC - from the few replies I had it was at least 2-4 times the recommended 3-5 hours per week. I know I've put in about 8-10 hours in watching videos, reading, blogging, forums, and tweeting activities. Is that an indication that I can't manage my time properly or that the course team have grossly under-estimated what their materials and course entails?

    All the best, David

    1. David, I think that the team GROSSLY underestimated the amount of time needed to complete the work with time and effort. Crafting a well-written blog that doesn't resemble streams of conscientiousness or an elementary "book report" takes time and thought. The class is very interesting, however, it's unfair to ask working adults to complete the work in such a short period of time.

  2. As an educator I had expected some opportunity to actually think about LEARNING! - I quit even before you did! I've glanced at the stuff from time to time, but I decided I'd rather be quilting - I've made 2 quilts in the time I would have spent being aggravated with this content!

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your experience with the Edinburgh MOOC. I can only say that I have just completed their online MSc in e-learning and it was a brilliant experience, so please don't let a disastrous MOOC put you off that. And I am presently studying with Edinburgh on their Astrobiology MOOC which I am really enjoying so please don't judge all Edinburgh MOOCs by your sad experience.

    1. The one thing I learned from participating in the EDCMOOC is that I definitely will not hire graduates from this confused and confusing MSc course (even if it were a MA course this would be unacceptable teaching).

  4. I agree with most of this to be honest, especially the marketing tool element

  5. I've also been tempted to quit, but instead I'm poking my head in once or twice a week to look at the postings and the forums. It helps, too, that I've been laid up with a bad back and can do this while resting my muscles.

    Anyway I've also been frustrated by the emphasis on abstract philosophy over concrete educational questions. It has, however, furthered my thinking on some of the topics I wanted to work on. I also don't like the emphasis on video content, the vagueness of direction, and the lack of clear instruction. I think it's a case of making what you can of it.

  6. I guess it's down to what your expectations are and what you make of it. This is the problem with the 'C' thing for folk who are well -enculturated into educational processes- getting disappointed at lack of structure, lack of stated learning outcomes, etc.

    Personally I quite like this MOOC. Many of the others I have done have been simply awful collections of recorded lectures followed by inane multichoice quizzes.

    Also, I didn't see this as in any way a 'course' in that traditional sense, rather I treated it as an ongoing, extended conversation or a mini-symposium if you like, with people chipping in ideas to provoke further thought. Yes a lot of the articles have been around for a while, but there's been considerable effort in curating materials and selecting particular short contributions as jumping off points rather than a comprehensive text, etc. Where the e-Learning comes in is in some of the discussion, but also in the layout and approach that is used in the structure of the MOOC. Neat little blocks, not too much material (if you're spending as many hours per week on this as you say, perhaps you have an even slower internet connection than me ;-) ) and encouraging human touch of the Google Hangout - these all show us possibilities for such 'tasters' and that it doesn;t have to be hours of lecture recordings.

    So I'm slightly more positive than you on this one, Imogen. I agree that I didnt find many of the discussion fora that great. Lots of random comments, etc. Similarly the twitter stream is busy. As for the digital artefact...well, it depends on how much effort you want to put in. I'm not able to spend a lot of time, but that doesn't matter. Simply participating and trying is where the learning is likely to take place, being prepared to share rough and ready ideas with each other and not worry about technical perfection, etc.

    I did MOOCMOOC last year and that only lasted a week, by the end of which we'd each blogged, tweeted and produced videos.

    1. Iain,

      I agree with your statement, "Also, I didn't see this as in any way a 'course' in that traditional sense, rather I treated it as an ongoing, extended conversation or a mini-symposium if you like, with people chipping in ideas to provoke further thought."

      I found the topics and philosophical approach to human interaction with technology intellectually stimulating. What I will leave out this course with is the critical notion that I should not accept technology without questioning its implications for humanity and the environment.

  7. Imogen, I agree with you. Unfortunately it is not my character to quit in the midway. I might not be able to finish the final assignment. Even if I can, I might not get any good mark. Anyway, who care?
    Iain MacLaren has put it as a “C” thing. What does it mean? Is it culture? Don't miss the point. It is not about culture. It is about post-culture. The post-structural thing is a joke. If after humanity, we could have post-humanity, why don't we have post-post-humanity? If you don't know what is post-post-humanity, it does not matter, because we can always make up one.
    Besides of the dramatized videos, the course recommended many articles. But it is hardy to find any reliable supporting evidence behind these articles.
    It is very bad for learning nothing from this course. However, while not agreeing with these propaganda, and by not thinking where I am, I have found where I am not.
    Edwin Leung
    February 18, 2103

  8. Thanks y'all for the comments which are really interesting. I am cross with myself for having a life that doesn't make for 8-10 hours a week to complete the MOOC. I hate quitting things! And I will be looking in on the remaining material.

    It would have been great if #EDCMOOC had a voting option on the content so people voted up the best bits each week...

    But I absolutely commend the Edinburgh team for even trying. It's the wild west out there and they are the brave pioneers. I am sure that there is a good proportion of the people who started that are interested in the C thing. And I absolutely agree with Edwin, I've learned where I'm not... so that is certainly something positive to take away.

    I wish I did have time to create an artefact about supply chain and IT support techniques and MOOCs because this is undoubtedly on the way. And where there is a problem about educators rejecting tools that smell of industrial training with its intention to standardise behaviours. These techniques can also be used to keep students engaged and supported and creative too.

  9. Very interesting point of view. But frankly, you wouldn't expect any course or anything, for that matter, that is suitable and likable for 40,000 human beings. Living and working in South America, I found this course more than interesting and profitable. It made me rethink many of my previous concepts about e-learning (from a humanistic point of view) It's true that the course itself lacks some (classic) structure. My question is ¿is it an advantage or disadvantage? I'm a self-taught technology teacher, and I really appreciate the opportunity of studying at a well established University. One of the things that make us humans is that every person is a world. 40,000 worlds. forgive my English and thanks for letting me share my thougths
    All the best. Osvaldo

  10. your reviews made me laugh, thanks! You seem to be a very sharp cookie.

  11. Imogen - I am on this MOOC largely to evaluate MOOCs as a possible learning medium for people I work with here in Zimbabwe. I had another goal and that was to learn about the specific subject matter as we do E-learning here in other forms and content. I too am puzzled by some of the content which went against my expectations. I like your list of requirements for a MOOC. I think your blog should be required reading for anyone contemplating 'attending' a MOOC of any kind. There are your views and the views of some of others which together present a fairly well balanced (perhaps?) view of MOOCers world-wide. I shall finish this MOOC come 'hell or high water' because in another life I gave up things too easily. Many thanks for your insightful comments and to Infotechnical who pointed me - and I hope others - here.

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  13. I was interested to read this comment, and I think it's really valuable evidence surrounding some of the challenges of MOOCs. I am one of the ones struggling to keep up with the course (hoping to catch up with weeks 3 and 4 this weekend at the same time as paper revisions from my last job...!). To me though, it's a new experience. And whether it has a positive outcome or not, it's still been an experience that I've learned something from. This was my first MOOC, and I understand it's not typical as there are variations in the way material is presented and assessed, but to me it presented a valuable opportunity to see how MOOCs might work on a large scale (as well as the challenges associated with them). So Imogen, you may not have produced the required 'artefact', but you've been part of the process, and this sharing of your experiences still makes you part of the #edcmooc community :)

  14. I thought this was an interesting article trying to highlight some disruptive technology elements of MOOCs. I think there is probably going to be a divergence into:

    1. Employer-driven mini courses that hybridise the best of blended learning content with learning analytics and adaptive learning techniques.
    2. Edutainment "online book/discussion clubs" of the #edcmooc type.

    The article's very good on the element of new knowledge from the learners themselves which I haven't seen characterised much elsewhere yet.

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  16. Oops I forgot the link...

  17. Just to toss the minority voice in, but I did both like this MOOC and finish it. I was looking for an experience, not a course, and I got quite an experience interacting with people globally through Twitter, Facebook and the course forums. I did probably spend 6 hours a week for 5 weeks, but it gave me a grounding in [re]thinking about how I deliver online education.

    My hat is off to the five Edinburgh faculty who crafted a neat sandbox and invited the world to come play.

  18. Hi all. It's interesting to see a different take on this course. We ran a review from a more satisfied student at We're hoping that we get some give and take there to help prospective students evaluate how best to use their time in MOOCs. It sounds like Imogen has had her fill, but if anyone else is interested in reviewing courses they've taken, I hope they'll come see what we're up to.