CC BY-SA some rights reserved by fox_kiyo
I've just started another MOOC this week called Open content licensing for educators and offered by the OER university partnership on their WikiEducator platform. This one is genuinely open with all resources shareable and involves some major figures in the open education movement. The aim is to help educators learn more about open education, open licensing and how copyright functions in a digital environment. Although there is a schedule I think it's rather flexible so you can probably start when you like. I'm a little worried about starting a new MOOC because so far I've never completed one. I enjoy dipping in and picking up a little nectar here and there, like the butterfly in the photo above, but I don't seem to settle for long. This one is supposed to take only two weeks to complete, is nicely divided into short digestible units of 1-2 hours and therefore suits the short attention span of the average MOOCer.
My impressions so far. Firstly it's always amazing how efficient some people are. It's only day 2 of the course and I see some participants already posting their final assignments; rather daunting to the new recruit I imagine. It's mostly self study however despite the clear ambitions of the course leaders to offer arenas for discussion such as groups in Google+, Twitter and using the hashtag to aggregate relevant content from our blogs and other channels. This leads to a dilemma when approaching a MOOC. You can focus on ticking the boxes and completing the course but you may not have time to notice the fascinating little byways that appear now and again that invite further investigation. If you choose to go off the beaten track you may learn a lot but you may never return to the course path. I tend to wander off and I'm sure many others do too. That's why I don't think "drop-out" rates are so relevant in open learning. Open means you can come and go as you want.
Since I've been working with OER and Creative Commons for several years now the subject matter is pretty familiar. What's more interesting is reading the comments and interactions and trying to contribute without simply echoing others. One question was whether teaching is a profession or a vocation and this has forced us to formulate an answer to a question we probably haven't really thought much about. After some thought I decided that "Vocation is a feeling/passion, profession is a role/skillset" and that set off a bit of discussion that was unexpected and welcome. I realised that just as we talk about formal and informal learning we can also have formal and informal teaching. Many of the greatest teachers were not trained, they simply taught driven by a passion for it. Many formal teachers are highly trained and qualified but lack the passion to genuinely connect with their students. Having both the passion and the professional expertise is of course the perfect combination but passion trumps qualification every time in my opinion.
Lets' see how where the path leads next.