Outstanding MOOC – wrangling with my content design

I’m not ‘wrangling’ on the How to Create an Outstanding MOOC in the way that Craig Taylor, Sam Burrough and Martin Couzins are, meaning that they are facilitating the course. However I am wrangling with how to plan the content. On Friday I posted a blog post about using Action Mapping to help plan my content. Over the weekend I’ve been thinking about this and reflecting upon it.

Activities for the attendee

One of the key differences in a MOOC or online course like this, compared to traditional lecturing or presenting of knowledge, is that this is all about the content and the attendees. It’s about asking them questions, to get them to think, reflect, engage in and maybe produce something. The something could be video, audio, blog post or less scary things like just adding a comment to a question or piece of content. Either way, it’s about them, not me.

I think pretty much all training should be handled this way. The knowledge elements, whilst they might need to be delivered in some fashion, should always lead to activity for experiential learning. There should always be reference material to then back this up and help people in the workplace, in any manner that’s appropriate.

Questions for the MOOC

The other difference that I noticed I had done and briefly commented on in my blog post, was that the activities I was naturally designing (or brainstorming, which is what it felt more like) where largely based on questions. Again to help that deeper thinking and reflective thought.

One of the pieces of content I’ve put on my MOOC about PowerPoint slide design is an article saying that PowerPoint is bad for learning and should be banned. I want people to have some contrasting viewpoints in order to see different angles on the subject and make up their own mind. I wanted a question following this, to allow for some reflective thought. It was a small challenge to come up with something that felt right. I went through some iterations such as:

  • Do you agree with this? [Erk, this is a closed question]
  • What do you think? [Nice and open, but no direction]
  • Would this work in your organisation [Probably just lots of ‘no’s as people are here to learn it better]
  • …And a few others I can’t remember now but didn’t like!

I ended up with this as my question:

What insight do you gain from this perspective on banning PowerPoint?

I thought it was open enough to get a thoughtful discursive answer, and maybe a hint of the curiosity of deeper learning, but not so much as to scare people off at the beginning of the MOOC.

This way of using questions, rather than the more traditional activities I might do in a group with face to face or live online delivery, was quite different. In some ways, it’s quite liberating as I can rely on the good quality content that I have curated (or gathered) and asking questions. I don’t necessarily have to come up with different activities, as the social element will do some of that.

I will still have some other activities, probably as the “end of level gate” to get people to DO something that’s real to them – such as finding resources to share, or critiquing their own slide deck and sharing with others. Not sure yet!

Final reflection (for now!)

Designing a MOOC or online course in this manner is about the structure of what people will do at each stage (or level) and the overall end result (assuming they work all the way through – yes I know that’s another discussion). It’s about questions for stimulating thought and some activities to generate action. Will I develop the whole MOOC in this online course? Maybe, if I have time (I certainly have inclination). Maybe not, as it does take time. The most important thing in me doing this, is to apply the principles we’ve been discussing and to share this learning with others in the future.

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