One degree of separation

Yesterday, I was listening to Phil Hill‘s interview about MOOCs and trends in higher education (in preparation for the University of Delaware’s Summer Faculty Institute, where he will be one of the featured speakers), and something occurred to me. There was a discussion regarding the use of MOOCs to bring renowned experts to your regular classroom, by using some of their online videos.

The idea is basically to deconstruct MOOCs into little pieces, and using some of those nuggets as a part of your instructional sequence with your students in your (physical or online) classroom. Although I agree that the fact that all that video is out there and prime to be used, most xMOOCs (Coursera, edX, Udacity) are not designed to be deconstructed that way. Some might even prevent, through intellectual property or technical restrictions, to use the materials outside of their intended context (as a part of the course package). The first “O” in MOOC stands for “Open”, which refers to open enrollment, not openness in reusing, revising, remixing, or redistributing (David Wiley’s 4Rs).  This reminds me a little of the problem many of us have with only using certain chapters in textbooks instead of making students buy the whole book for three chapters.

What faculty really need…

Credit: Andrew Becraft on FlickrAs faculty start talking about deconstructing MOOCs, what they are really expressing is a need for open educational resources (OER). Well, guess what? OER have been around and largely ignored for the longest time, so maybe the time is right to reintroduce the concept. Open educational resources are learning objects of different shapes and sizes for which intellectual property rights have been licensed to allow the 4Rs by default. As an educator, as long as you comply with the rights’ holder intentions, you can do whatever you want with the OER you find online.

I created a list of sites where you can find OER as a part of Open Education Week. I will also run a workshop (called Treasure Hunt – handout here) during the Summer Faculty Institute.

Experts are everywhere!

As for bringing in experts to your classroom, yes, Youtube or some MOOC can provide video content that’s engaging. But what about connecting to the experts and conducting your own interview with them? With social media, especially non-reciprocal social media like Twitter or Google+, you can connect with experts everywhere. You can also use more official channels like LinkedIn, where you can ask a colleague you know to introduce you to someone they are connected to.

The idea is that if you can establish a direct contact with someone and ask them to participate in a webcam interview, most of them who are already active on social media will say yes. That’s what happened to me during my #udsnf12 class when I got Jane Bozarth to chat with me for 30 minutes on Google Hangouts on Air. The result becomes an engaging and customized Youtube video you can include in your class materials.

Join us!

Next week, May 28-31, 2013, we will be running a whole bunch for presentations and workshops as a part of UD’s Summer Faculty Institute. Most sessions will be streamed, so you’re welcome to sign-up to be a remote participant and learn with us, for free, even if you’re not from UD!

UPDATE: There is already a lively discussion going on on Google+ about this post and topic!

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