Tuesday, 30 April 2013

H817 Activity 25: Reflecting on openness

The last activity in the Open Education MOOC is to write my reflection on openness.
This is what we were asked to do: "create a video and share it via your blog, using YouTube, Vimeo or other video-sharing sites. If you prefer not to create a video then you can use another tool or medium of your choice, but avoid just plain text in this instance if possible.

In your video reflect on what you have learned in this course, covering one of the following elements:
What aspect of openness in education interests you most (and why)?
What the future direction of open education will be in your opinion, justifying your answer.
Your experience of studying an open course versus traditional, formal education."

I selected to do a blog post and a presentation on the third - my experience of studying an open course versus traditional, formal education.

 Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chillmimi/7885151124/sizes/c/in/set-72157631299591088/

First of all, I must confess that despite my best effort I almost gave up on this MOOC by week 3. The reason for this was that I could not keep up with the overload of information. There were lot of discussions happening, great resources posted for the learners and I wanted to do all of that resulting in not being able to finish up on anything. I never posted on discussions, left few comments on others blogs (I think) - but I read the discussions and that was enough to overload me. For those of you who do not know me, I am working part-time and managing a household with toddler twins and I hardly ever find a 'free time'.

Anyway, on week 4 I had my inner voice saying to me that "don't drop out" - had I dropped out of this course it would have been my third unsuccessful attempt to complete a MOOC. So I formulated a strategy "what I could do to complete this MOOC". I must thank Prof. Allison Littlejohn for sharing one of her recent work with us on the ELESIG symposium - Sharing research into learners' experiences of MOOCs and other new technologies where she showed that most successful participants had previously completed other MOOCs. She also said that they selectively participated in discussions. I had already co-authored two papers on MOOCs and another on OERs. So was fairly up-to-date with the MOOC literature. I could skip some of the readings suggested because I have read them before. I then concentrated on the tasks that were required to apply for the completion badges. The lack of time to read posts on forums made me a disconnected learner in the MOOC. Some may not approve of this strategy, however failing to complete the previous two MOOCs I participated, I needed a practical strategy to convince myself that I could do it.

When I was taking part in formal education I used to make sure I read all the items I could find from the reading list after each lecture. But then I had no other commitments that demanded my time (this was before I had children). I was free to stay late, wake early (which I never did) or stretch the study week into the weekends to finish-up what I started and I had minimal distractions. I don't think I ever posted on forums unless it was compulsory; I was a lurker (and still am - or am I not). I liked listening to interesting lectures and even if I was not interested in the lecture I used to take notes - lots of notes (so that I don't fall a sleep). It helped me to recall and recollect what was said in the lecture as I didn't like looking at slides for revision.

The main difference I see in the two experiences of learning is that the learner is wholly responsible for learning (or not) in a MOOC. Dedication and motivation required for this type of learning is very high as there are so much more stuff you could do with your time. For example, if you are online you could visit Facebook to see what your friends are up to, look at something you would like to buy on ebay or even just check the BBC news headlines. If you were learning in the class, that time is dedicated to be in the class (of course if one wanted one could go to the cinema instead). Also there are friends who will drag you to the class (or out depending on the type of friends you have). At the end of the day you have paid money and you want to have the degree, so the stakes are high. Where as for MOOCs you pay nothing and even if you do not complete you could do it perhaps the next time. But for me personally the main difference between the two experiences was "time" (and constant distractions).

I am really glad that I finally made it to the last week of this Open Education MOOC. I look forward to participating in another MOOC but next time I am going to try becoming a connected learner rather than be the disconnected learner I was in this MOOC.

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