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This will be fun: Mother of all MOOCs

Toward the end of CCK11, one of the participants in a session asked “what’s next”? I replied that I’d like to try and run the “mother of all moocs” – one that brought together innovative thinkers from around the world, presenting a truly global learning experience that wasn’t centered on George and Stephen as with the CCK series.

In discussions with colleagues at TEKRI, it seemed like a good research opportunity in helping us to understanding how technology impacts global social and information networks for learning.

The idea sort of floated around in email exchanges with Stephen for a few weeks. Finally, we decided this could be a great learning experience and a great research opportunity. Dave Cormier – never someone to say no to a loopy idea – accepted our invitation to help coordinate the course. We have an *outstanding* list of presenters and facilitators who have been asked to “share your best thinking and research on a topic that you’re passionate about”. The draft schedule is available here.

If you’re interested in participating, please register for the course. More information is available on the course site.

I’m excited about this course for obvious reasons – I get to learn from fascinating and innovative people and get my finger on the pulse of front-line research in learning and technology.

I’m developing a research team around this course (I need a good acronym – as evidenced by PLENK, LAK, CCK – my suggestions sort of suck). I’m at OU for an OLnet fellowship for part of summer and will be working on developing a research agenda. If you are interested in joining, let me know. I’d like to meet online several times over summer to talk about research opportunities and methods. Ideally, existing researchers would bring their methods and research interests to the open course and we would meet several times a month to provide support and a space for discussion on research progress.

In terms of planning and course delivery – I encourage faculty in education/technology fields to build elements of this open course into their own courses. After all, MOOCs are all about messing with boundaries, barriers, and silos.

Finally we’ve had ample feedback on some of the chaos and isolating aspects of previous MOOCs. We want to improve the capacity for social support and sub-network formation. We’re just not sure yet what that will look like, but if you register for the course, we’ll arrange several online discussions over summer to plan what this might look like. If this MOOC is of interest, I encourage you to think about what you would like to get from the experience and what you can give. Our emphasis in MOOCs has always been “build what will make this a great course for yourself”. Jump in! I expect it will be an fascinating journey and an indication of what education will be like in the future. We’ve provided a starting canvas with the course structure and by inviting a group of people that we hold in high regard to facilitate weekly sessions. The final image, however, is one that will be formed by all of our contributions!


  1. George Por wrote:

    Huge thank you guys for the pioneering work that you’ve been doing with MOOCs, which i have been following for the last couple of years.

    I’v been researching issues in global-scale collective intelligence since 1986, so the opportunity I see in the “mother of all MOOCs” is moving the edge of wildfire and other styles of collective learning about large-scale CI capable to successfully address global and local real-life challenges.

    George, I live in London and would enjoy to meet up with you and contribute to the development of the research agenda if the “collective intelligence” angle is of interest to you.



    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Permalink
  2. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi George – great! I expect to be in UK the week of July 6. Perhaps we can arrange a time to connect roughly mid-July? I’ll keep you posted on when we’ll meet online for a research team discussion…

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  3. Do you have to use the word “global”? What does that even mean? I think I know what you mean.. sort of international, maybe even transcultural.. but then, you might mean monocultural, global as in one world.. who really knows. Its a dirty word to me and anyone not quite sure if we’re in this together as equals.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  4. peps mccrea wrote:

    Very. Very. Excited. This is gonna be awesome! Great group of learning leaders lined up – will be really interesting to see what emerges as the ‘whole’ learner experience from a campaign such as this.

    I have signed up as a participant, but am keen to contribute however possible. I am exploring open education (the MOOCifying of traditional courses) for my EdD thesis, but would also love the opportunity to support/lead some sessions if there was a need (in particular RE how the MOOC community can potentially contribute/add value to their wider community). Open to all suggestions.

    RE an appropriate ‘hook’ to hang your course off: how about Edaptment or TICLE (Technology Induced Change in Learning & Education)…

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink
  5. LeahGrrl wrote:

    I am so looking forward to next fall and have registered already. Any slight chance this will be available for credit for the Emerging Technologies in Learning certificate folks? Either way, I’m in.

    Not an academic or a researcher in any form, but if I can help, let me know.
    Leah CCK11

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink
  6. gsiemens wrote:

    @Leigh – Fair point about global being a “dirty word” for many people. I use “global” rather casually, and frequently, in my speech to mean “international” or “encompassing more than my country”, as indicated by my reference to thinkers from around the world.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink
  7. gsiemens wrote:

    @Peps – thanks for your suggestion on title and offer to help as the course progresses. Once we have a few more details addressed, I’ll be in touch…

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 6:54 am | Permalink
  8. gsiemens wrote:

    @Leah – good to hear you’ve signed up!
    I’m not sure about U of Manitoba accepting this as credit…you’d think it should fit in as an elective. Perhaps send them a quick email? Copy me on it if you’d like so I can offer comments on how evaluation might work…

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink
  9. ljp wrote:

    I’m looking forward to the MOOC. However, my browser doesn’t support Google docs. If you’re going international, you may want to consider how the digital divide will affect the ability to participate. Did I say I prefer forums and newsletters? :)

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  10. George, would love to join your research team (virtually if possible or f2f in Alberta).

    I was at your LAK11 conference looking for unique ways to study how people learn with technology and at a distance.


    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink
  11. gsiemens wrote:

    @LPJ – which browser are you using? If you’re using firefox or chrome, (and most versions of IE), accessing google docs shouldn’t be a problem.

    We will be using newsletters throughout the course…not sure yet about how we’ll manage forums.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  12. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Kelly – great – I’ll be in touch once we’re ready to start research discussions…

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:31 am | Permalink
  13. Great idea! I’d be interested in your feedback on our version of a MOOC – in the form of our math study group at

    That group is not a course per say – but rather a massively multiplayer study group where students collaborate on all things mathematics. No set materials or progression, students bring the learning questions from elsewhere. You can read a bit more about our mission on our blog here:

    I would also like to join the research team.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  14. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Chris – thanks for your interest (and for sharing the links). I’m somewhat familiar with openstudy – great concept!

    I’ll be in touch on the research team details in the next few weeks.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  15. Rob Parsons wrote:

    Just signed up, having seen the details on Mobimooc, which has made me thirsty for more. I work for the OU, albeit a distance from Milton Keynes, but I’ll be around and able to meet up during the summer – that would be great.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  16. Rob Parsons wrote:

    I’m tempted to suggest moohmah, on the basis of boohbahs, the best designed website I’ve ever seen. – but I warn you before you go there, it will seriously distract you from any task at hand.

    But I quite like TICLE, particularly when spoken out loud.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  17. Viplav Baxi wrote:

    Count me in, George, for any help you may need! This is indeed going to be fun.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
  18. Lars Was wrote:

    Just signed up! Looking forward to it! Thanks.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 2:03 am | Permalink
  19. Thanks George for another generous offer. I am interested in joining your research team.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 7:00 am | Permalink
  20. Alec Couros wrote:

    I’d also be interested in serving on the research team – count me in.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  21. Hi George

    Am also interested – will be around in July…note a lot of European TEL researchers will be at Salford Research Conference and at PLE2011 conference in Southampton – both in first half July

    Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink
  22. Doug Holton wrote:

    Seems a bit more like a speaker series. Perhaps you could combine some to have a sort of debate/panel discussion on some weeks. 3 are talking about open and online scholarship for example, and a few are talking about online communities.

    Another idea would be to use a backward design approach – identify the main themes / big ideas, and wrap the course activities around them.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  23. George, I have just signed up. Would like to add as much as possible for the K12 perspective.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  24. Great! Looks like an eye-watering line-up. Maybe the perspective from developing countries is still underrepresented?

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  25. gsiemens wrote:

    @Stefaan – agreed, developing countries are under-represented. We sent out several invites to colleagues in developing regions of the world. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive many “yes, I’ll do it” replies…

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
  26. gsiemens wrote:

    @Vincent – excellent! We would love to see different networks form that focus on various areas of interest. I see a mooc as an infrastructure or platform for learning. The organizers create a bit of a foundation. From there, individuals take it in directions and topics of interest that they find most relevant.

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  27. gsiemens wrote:

    @Doug – thanks for the suggestions. It is a bit like a speaker series, but we do have some activities planned, for those learners that are interested, that will run across multiple weeks. Love the debate idea, but need to think more about how that would work.

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  28. gsiemens wrote:

    @Graham – great! I’ll keep you posted once I know a bit more. I’ll try and organize a meeting in mid-June or so online to talk research options. thanks for mentioning the conferences as well. I’ll see how those fit with my activities at OU.

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  29. gsiemens wrote:

    @Alec – it will be great to have you involved in the research! (congrats on your recent SSHRC grant, btw).

    @John – thanks for your interest – I’ll be in touch as soon as we have our first meeting planned.

    @Viplav – I appreciate the offer and will definitely take you up on that once we’re a bit more settled in our planning.

    @Lars, @Rob – thanks!

    Monday, May 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink