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.

5 thoughts on “COOL FISh… #opened #mooc #phdchat

  1. Pingback: COOL FISh… #opened #mooc #phdchat | FDOL131 |

  2. Hi Chrissi – wrote a reply some time ago, then the #$*&@ back button on my Swiss Army mouse wiped it all out before I could post it. Composing in notepad now. (note to self – turn off word wrap before copying & pasting)

    I wanted to let you know that my ABE students were thrilled to be part of the CMC11 live session you facilitated back in December. We were putting the finishing touches on our math project that afternoon – a bookshelf for our classroom which we designed and built from scratch (well we bought plywood & glue rather than harvesting timbers and boiling moose hooves, but I digress). I really wanted to participate in that session, but didn’t want to go to the office and leave the students on their own. Then I got the idea to put BBCollaborate on the projector.

    My idea was that I’d listen (lurk) and perhaps the students would pay some attention to it, or perhaps not. I had a varnish brush in my hand when you called on me the first time. I think everybody stopped what they were doing while I ran to the mic to reply to your question. That caught their attention all right. Next time you invited my comment they gleefully cried, “Jim, they’re calling you again.” By the end, one of them was doodling on the whiteboard with the rest of you. It worked out so much better than I could have imagined. And it illustrates to me that if you can’t explain a MOOC to someone who has never experienced it, (and believe me, I’ve tried – and I either sound like a radical enthusiast, or, if I try to sound scholarly using the vocabulary of Siemens and Cormier, like a crashing bore) if you can’t explain it, I say, you can certainly demonstrate a MOOC by luring someone in to participate. You could probably even demonstrate it to a five-year-old.

    “What’s in a name?” asked a better writer than I. I’m intrigued by your innovative COOL FISh design – and acronym. Sadly I have to decline your invitation as I have co-experimenting in another project. I like your questions about how long the fad around MOOCs will last. Rather than being locked into imitating the current MOOC-type models, I think you lead the way down a more open path with MOOC-inspired models. I am trying to avoid the term completely as I put together a collaborative online discussion (COLD??) group so as not to spook skeptical colleagues who seem eager to join me. We will be taking a Coursera course together as a cohort. (Yes, it’s an xMOOC, but don’t tell them.)

  3. Hi Jim,

    Thank you for commenting. Really nice to hear from you again after the CMC11 webinar. Pleased it was so useful for you and your students. You are right telling people just doesn’t work. Enabling students to experience it is much more powerful.

    We are experimenting with an open course design, we haven’t seen anybody else using. No idea if it will work but we, Lars and I, who are organising #fdol131 are keen to identify if our COOL FISh can work in open learning settings.

    COOL stands for

    FISh is our PBL model
    Just 3 strages to keep it simple but still providing structure and scaffold

    Keep in touch and good luck with your Coursera course. I won’t tell anybody 😉


  4. Pingback: Can we fix it or Day 5 #byod4l @melsiguk | Chrissi Nerantzi

  5. Pingback: COOL FISh... | Ontwerpen en begeleiden van afst...

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s