The LAK11 course is not yet completely over - the last week even looks busy and interesting, with various lectures on the future of learning analytics -, but why not make a short round-up already?
A MOOC (or OOC, since MOOC apparently sounds similar to the Catalan word for mucus) is a massive, open and online course. This earlier blog post outlines the characteristics of the genre.
1. The pluses
a. The participation at the course of experts from a wide range of domains guaranteed interesting forum posts and a range of contacts and resources outside the regular course materials. Learning learning analytics by joining with the learner analysts, in real connectivist tradition. These "expert participants" formulated critical questions and comments, and thus helped avoid the "group thinking" pitfall in online courses.
b. The course facilitators were excellent in moderating the discussions. They managed to make the guest lectures and the round-ups interesting for both experts and non-experts.
c. The materials were high quality, with a lot of variation in content and in media and a series of software tools. The materials were complemented by suggestions from participants. (materials will stay online and available after the course)
d. The open character of the course gives you the freedom to contribute how and when you want. If you have a lot of time, you can do all the readings and create a summary. If you're too busy, you can limit yourself to reading a summary from a fellow learner. A daily e-mail with a short round-up and a few links is sent out daily by the course facilitators.
e. The online character is perhaps an evident point, but I keep finding it amazing that you can participate from Phnom Penh in a course on learning analytics, organized from Canada with speakers from Canada, the US and Europe.
2. The minuses
a. How can such a MOOC be economically sustainable. Preparing and facilitating the course takes a lot of time, and nobody is paying a course fee. Offering accreditation on demand (and for payment) could be an option, but I don't think this was an option for this course. Improved positioning of the organizing university could bring economic benefits maybe?
b. Forum activity decreased strongly after a few weeks. I'm not sure (since this was my first MOOC) whether this is a recurring trend or because of the more specialized course content during those weeks. To complete a MOOC however, intrinsic motivation needs to be strong (and remain strong).
The minuses are much shorter than the pluses, what indicates (correctly) that I found this MOOC a very interesting experience. As a tool for continuous professional development (CPD) it's excellent. I'm looking forward to other ones...