Tools to accompany your MOOC study regime in a MMOG manner

I realized only recently that the amount of work MOOC students are burdened with is huge; especially if you are enrolled as a “hardcore” Mooc player (over 4 MOOCs at the same time). [ as opposed to a “social” MOOC player < participating in 3 MOOCs or less ].

Imagine an average World of Warcraft raider. He needs time to raise up professions (make money to buy gear), go through rep(utation) quests and dungeons ( justice / valor points to get gear) and finally endure the raid finder process (again, better gear). At the same time he is speaking to his guild mates and in the server central forum. He seeks guidance, helps out (or gets into a fight with immature brats, but I won’t go there)

{Notice I am using “he” as a pronoun. Girl gamers just claim they are indeed female. They are shipped to raiding teams immediately. :p}

Imagine the sought after gamer  gear being knowledge for MOOCers (is that really a term?). Now a MOOC student, watches video lectures. Lots of them. So there’s your time.  Naturally he keeps notes, stores PDF files, studies online webpages and articles, answers quizzes and produces written homework. That’s his way of preparing for “end-game” content. Then he is into forums and social media groups, discussing and giving / receiving feedback (or rage, this is really like Wow come to think of it).

Both cases exhibit dedication on behalf of the player. In the end however things are different. Gamers get to keep tokens of their time, efforts and contribution:

  • screenshots or videos to remind them of their best moments in-game.
  • Bank slots and void storage, where their gear (well if it’s pretty enough or rare) is safely stored.
  • Achievements that are -again – bookmarked in their profile
  • The sense of sheer “epicness” when they finally achieve taking down the raid boss.

What do MOOC students get in the end? A lousy digital certificate. Well played, Coursera, well played.

Students immerse themselves as much as an average gamer does. So why not add to that experience and actually keep memoirs of your work? It’s not just a seminar, it’s a legitimate online undergraduate course. I would encourage you to think about the following:

  • All those notes and post-its hanging around on your desk or online, these assignments you worked so hard for, interesting video excerpts or your recorded own voice should go somewhere that matters (not just your desk or OneNote)
  • Start making a e-portfolio with samples of your work and ceritfications. Try Europass or new start ups especially tailored for continuing education. Add those courses to your CV. Try making a visual CVImage, even better.
  • All those interesting articles that appear in the readings section of the course need to be bookmarked and tagged so you can find them later – believe me you will need to.
  • Use the social media hubs wisely: instead of spending hours on end on the course’s facebook group, search what’s effectively going on on the entire Internet based on that particular course using hashtags.

These are only minor examples of what you can use to boost your productivity and mostly end up with all your study time saved effectively. MOOC is not about a damn certificate. It’s the journey that counts.

PS. Wouldn’t it be nice to display that “journey” to potential employers too?


e-Portfolio setup suggestion in MOOCs

Well, it seems that despite potential flaws, the MOOC hype has turned into a MOOC domination: they are certainly here to stay. One could account for a lot of problems – we are still amidst the initial phase of the emerging trend – yet one thing remains an absolute fact: productivity and collaboration in academia were never at its highest.

Personally I am enrolled in a lot of MOOCs, in a variety of platforms. For each and everyone of them I need to watch the videos, come up with notes, do my readings and then of course manage my homework.

Multiple choice tests are not the sole method of evaluating a MOOC although they seem to be quite objective and leave less room for debate. The infamous peer-feedback of the flipped classroom educational practice has amassed plenty of critique and painful reaction among MOOC students. Still, I am not going to enter that debate. Imagine, at this point, the amounts of written text produced as homework for all the MOOC classes. Imagine what it would be like to receive feedback from more than 1-5 peers, even outside their platform.

Since the cloud-based technology is offering huge advantages to education, one should come up with portfolios based on the cloud and in synch with all devices and platforms – thus promoting peer feedback and collaboration in real time from virtually everywhere. As a MOOC supporter I would like my homework from online courses to be effectively stored and shared – yet by all means copyright-protected –  so as to promote knowledge and exchange of ideas. Coursera and other leading MOOC providers should think of an integrated e-portfolio

that would allow the student to save his/her work at one place and make it easily shareable with the rest of the world (not downloadable though). On the plus side, any academic institution or company interested in a CV’s continuing education sector could glimpse the works of potential candidates and deem their overall productivity  in one place.

To avoid any misunderstanding, not only humanities offer written assignments as homework. An e-portfolio could hold a Python program, a gamification scenario, a social science experiment report, etc.

Any thoughts?