COOL FISh… #opened #mooc #phdchat

… is born and will be out in the sea very soon… swimming against the stream…


During the academic year 2010/11, I organised a trial bringing together PgCert sudents studying towards a teaching qualificiation in Higher Education from different institutions in the UK. They had the opportunity to learn collaboratively online using Problem-Based Learning supported by PBL facilitators. This was an open experiment and part of my MSc thesis in Blended and Online Education which I was studying at the time at the Edinburgh Napier University. I learnt so much from this, especially thanks to the difficulties we experienced. Who says we don’t learn anything when things go wrong or when we make mistakes?

And while there were many times when I was unsure that this would work, in the end I have to say that it was a success as learners didn’t give up and completed the experiment successfully and facilitators went away also having learnt from this experience. Soon after completing my studies and while I was presenting some of my findings of this trial for the first time during the Celebrating the Past and Embracing the Future: Evolution and Innovation in Problem-Based Learning, 30-31 March 2011, I was fortunate to meet a colleague from Sweden who showed real interest in my work. I started flirting with the idea of creating an open course based on lessons learnt from that trial. A module has been over a year ago and is become the playground of my PhD research which I started at Edinburgh Napier University. This all sounds scary at the moment and a huge task to undertake… especially as this area of open learning seems to develop rapidly and it is hard to keep up with what is happening around the globe.  How will I keep up??? You might have noticed that I am avoiding calling our course a MOOC. There are many conversations happening at the moment (and I started curating some of the open courses stories here) and everybody seems to want to be a MOOCer. How long are they going to last? How long will MOOCs be called MOOCs? How will these courses evolve? We are all experimenting with novel ideas and I find this fascinating and very healthy! So many learning educators around the world who see themselves as co-learners, co-researchers, co-experimenters!


Cloning ideas or evolving?

We don’t call our open course a MOOC. It is an open course, a course that is open for all might not be everybody’s cup of tea. Does the word ‘massive’ itself attract the masses? But what brings the masses and why do turn so many away so quickly? We, my colleague from Sweden and I, are now getting ready to offer our open course around Flexible, Distance and Online Learning as a pilot in a few weeks using a Collaborative Open Learning approach and our FISh PBL framework.  In September 13 we will be offering it as an accredited module. We think, that our course will be very different from the cMOOCs and the xMOOCs and other MOOC-type courses. There are so many of them now available. More recently, I am observing some course design variation. The global learners and their needs are considered perhaps more and educators are learning from what hasn’t worked so well so far. We are re-thinking engagement and learning strategies. Content driven MOOCs seem to be out there, many of them. Do they in some way resemble an anachronistic picture of education? Do they, to some extend, do what we ask teachers not to do in the traditional face-to-face classroom? Is this time travel into the past? And while MOOCs are open and free for all, how attractive is this offer for all types of learners?


One bowl for all?

Our COOL FISh design is going to be a cross-institutional experiment where learners have the opportunity to learn collaboratively in small PBL groups using their own authentic stories, supported by PBL facilitators.  The context of the learners will define and shape learning and knowledge co-construction. We are not suggesting that our way is the only way. One size definitely doesn’t fit all!!! We are experimenting with an alternative learning design to engage learners who are perhaps not networked learners yet. We would like to utilise their curiosity to learn through creating opportunities for contextualised collaborative enquiries. We are developing a framework to make learning in open courses more attractive for them and putting it to the test through active experimentation.

What are your thoughts on this?

We are now live and are open for registrations. #FDOL131 starts on the 11 of February 13. Will you join us? Find out more here.