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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Having been part of designing a MOOC and a learner on several, this is my first experience of acting in an online support role on one.

Four weeks in and I am having to give myself the same advice I hand out to participants ‘Don’t try to do it all’ (or ‘Keep calm in the face of abundance‘ as it is put in ocTEL.) There are (gratifyingly!) so many forum posts, blog posts and Tweets, it’s tempting to try to keep up with everything, and I’m sure participants feel much the same.

I like being able to use a variety of tools to engage with the material and interact with other ocTEL-ers, but when I was reviewing the material initially, I wondered how participants would be able to follow all the different communication streams that would be created. Fortunately, the Course Reader has made easy work of this, and thanks to some clever tech-enabled coordination being the scenes (Thanks, Martin), Tutors and Support Tutors can make sure we keep up with posts and comments as a team.

This is our Study Week currently and I’m looking forward to the remainder of the course and hopefully a continuation of the what we gain through ocTEL (resources found, associations made) into the future.

ocTEL 2014: http://octel.alt.ac.uk/2014/

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I’ve recently completed a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) from Oxford Brookes University called TOOC (Teaching Online Open Course.) Students were taking TOOC for credit or as a ‘free’ course (I was in the latter group.)

It’s not my first MOOC or even the first one I have completed; I’ve lost count of the number of online courses of various types I have taken over the years.

For some this may not qualify as a MOOC as the numbers are kept deliberately modest (for a MOOC) but it still had a relatively large cohort when we consider supported online courses in general.

What stood out was that it had a very high level (time and quality) of engagement of participating staff (teachers and teaching assistants) and this, for me, proved to be the most important part of the course.

The high level of engagement of staff was obviously encouraging the same of many students (yes, a fraction of the cohort were seen to be present but not everyone is going to post to forums on any course, just as few students ask questions in lectures.) In fact, the importance of building and maintaining presence was something that was introduced early on and I know many of us were seeing a practical demonstration of this and its effects.

This isn’t to disparage the quality of the resources but I doubt they alone would have had me engage with the topics each week and keep going to the end, and I doubt if they would have made me think so deeply.

I would urge anyone to take part in TOOC when it runs again to be a part of such a course, to take away a very positive experience of online learning and meet many wonderful people into the bargain.

I actually miss turning up online each week.

I have no excuse. I don’t know what happened. I started blogging again and then I stopped.

Now I’m starting again. Nudge me if I go quiet for too long, won’t you?