Outstanding MOOC – starting to build!

It’s been fun spending a little time this afternoon in searching for appropriate content and curating it in-line with my plans (blog post here) and on the Curatr platform.

In case you haven’t got to that point in the How to Create an Oustanding MOOC course yet, here are some screen grabs of what I’ve been working on.

This is when I first login as admin and see the course I’ve created, how many people have enrolled and so on. What I didn’t realise until just speaking with Craig Taylor who works at Curatr, is that a course can be secret and still open – it just means it’s not on the ‘free courses’ page of the Curatr homepage. Handy tip!


This is when I go into manage the content, with the first level and a couple of ‘objects’ that I’ve created – these are the learning contents that I want people to view, think about, and maybe comment upon:


If I click on one of the learning objects, these are the settings I can change (or input for a new one). Some of the nuances are important to understand, such as where the name and description will show up and what type of object you are putting in. In this example, I found that the content wasn’t showing. Craig helped with this, by pointing out that by sheer bad luck, I had chosen secure content, as it has the https:// at the beginning of the URL. This simply doesn’t work with iFrames, which is how this (and other platforms) often allow a magic internet window to the original content. Bit annoying, but that’s the security for their own content, which is important:


There are ways around this, the easiest being a check box (which you can’t see above) asking the user to load it into a new tab. Craig and I discussed this. Especially in the first level of a course, it’s not best for content to be loading outside of the platform. The unaware can get lost. However you could take the point of view that people are reasonably tech savvy (or this is an experience to get them there) and to trust that. The added bonus is that people are seeing the content in it’s original location so it’s easy to share.

Next: how exciting… my first look at the ‘front end’ as a viewer of the course. I’ve got a three levels now as I found a few objects I knew I wanted to sit in specific places, so quickly made them to edit later. Also though, I realise I need to change the banner picture and, much as I love the Curatr dinosaur, need to change the level pics too:


Lastly, this is one of my content pieces. But it’s not there! This was an interesting one as it was a Youtube video. Initially I just put it as a “url” link to the video on Youtube. However, again as Craig pointed out, I didn’t want the whole Youtube page to load, just the video. So I needed to get the  HTML code from the Youtube page and do that, so just the video loaded. It worked fine after that!



MOOC participation – annoying or learning?

I’m working through the free Curatr Digital Curation mini MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), put together by Sam Burrough and Martin Couzins.

I’ve been busy with work, as have most others I’m sure, and got to the content later than the goody-two-shoes-geeky-teacher’s-pet that I would normally like. I was looking at it on my iPad, whilst relaxing on the sofa and, quite frankly, tired after a long day of work but mindful that there was a set window of time in which to participate in the MOOC.

MOOC annoyance

I was working through level one, gaining my “experience points” by consuming the content in order to move further into the course. I found that I needed to comment on the resources presented, and other actions, to gain more experience points. At the time, I found this frustrating.

Partly I didn’t want to do lots of typing in my iPad, even with an iPad keyboard I’m about a million times faster with a ‘proper’ computer! But mostly I just didn’t have a lot to say (those that know me will be shocked at that, I know!).

This probably had more to do with being tired than anything else, but I was annoyed that I felt I had to participate with the commentary and the social element. I felt I was doing it just to get the experience points – merely adding noise to the course when, ironically, it’s all about curating content and adding value. I certainly felt like my first few comments weren’t about that.

MOOC understanding

As you can imagine, I soon changed my mind (again, something that people who know me will not be shocked at…). When I was less tired I really got into the MOOC proper – consuming the content that was presented which I was interested in and sharing my comments.

Yes, this was partly to gain experience points, I might not have done it otherwise. However what I found was that old Joan Didion quote applied to me and my learning:


As I started writing my thoughts and comments, some just poured out of me without me actually realising that’s what I thought in the first place. It highlighted to me on a personal level the importance of engagement and activities to embed learning.

I would probably have happily gone through the MOOC without making much comment, in my race to merely consume and not to reflect.

So I’m very grateful that the designers of this system and course forced me into this action — just like I do to my learners!

Digital Curation MOOC – not even started yet…

I’ve enrolled in the free Curatr Digital Curation mini MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), put together by well known experts (though I think they would hate me saying that!) Sam Burrough and Martin Couzins.

I’ve enrolled for a few reasons:

  • I’ve wanted to do a MOOC for ages, not set aside the time/energy and this one came up on a subject I’m really interested in, want to learn something from and is relevant to what I’m working on
  • It’s a bit smaller, at two weeks, than a lot of the MOOCs I’ve looked at
  • It’s been developed by and on a platform by people I know and trust
  • A lot of my Twitter personal learning network are also enrolled, which will add to the social interaction element for me

Why the blog post if you haven’t even started?

Good sub-heading! I logged in to Curatr to have a look and immediately wanted to get started. As we all have, work commitments got ‘in the way’ and I wasn’t able to delve into the content or the Twitter chat that evening: #dcurate

The thing I noticed though, was the gamifaction part of the MOOC. There are experience points attributed to each piece of content. The higher the experience points, the more valuable the content is, according to Sam and Martin. This means that there is a leaderboard of points when you get to the main screen of the course.


Is this a good thing? Well, it certainly motivated me, as, quite frankly, I wanted to be on that leaderboard! More importantly, gaining those experience points actually unlocks Gates (as in the picture above) to get to different levels of content.

Here’s a Storify set of Tweets that discussed this. You can also see it here.


  1. @marklearns Indeed & looking forward to it. No time today other than a quick login this morning to see you were top of #dcurate leaderboard!
  2. @marklearns Hehe… perhaps you were just keen! It was working, I wanted to be on the leaderboard. Damn work getting in the way 😉
  3. @burrough @LightbulbJo @marklearns so is this an example of gamification in a MOOC? Need to reflect on “learning” value of such #dcurate
  4. @LearnKotch @burrough @LightbulbJo not to me. More akin to a Klout score. I don’t see this as a competition.
  5. @LightbulbJo @marklearns must admit this part I find interesting-never been to a MOOC that has a leaderboard. Verdict out on this #dcurate
  6. @marklearns @LearnKotch @LightbulbJo we tried to use the points system to create opportunities to take different paths through the course
  7. @LearnKotch @LightbulbJo @marklearns the good thing about the leaderboard is you can take it or leave it – there are no prizes


I think it’s interesting how we react to the points and leaderboard, regardless of how it was designed and what for. Yes, there was a fun competitive element that was an instant reaction to seeing it on screen. I don’t think that’s wrong or unhealthy. If I had immediately ditched my work, then maybe that would be the case (Competitive Anonymous, anyone?)!

I like Sam’s point about taking it or leaving it. However I do disagree with one thing. There are prizes, but they are the ones that we define ourselves. For me the prize would be learning satisfaction (regardless of the leaderboard!).

I look forward to actually getting in to the content at the weekend.