Monday, 13 April 2015

MOOCs and Me

Photo by graur razvan ionut
I mentioned MOOCs to one of my team last week and was met with a blank stare and inevitable follow-up question - "What's a MOOC?" Other than being able to tell her that a MOOC is a 'Massive Open Online Course', I didn't have a lot to say about them.
"Hang on", I hear you cry. "Aren't you supposed to be some kind of Learning & Development Techie Manager, or something like that? Aren't you supposed to know about all this stuff?"
Fair point. You'd think that with a job title of Head of Technology Assisted Learning, I'd know everything you'd need to know about Learning Technologies and MOOCs and the like, wouldn't you? Well, as I say in my Social Media profiles, "I know a little about a lot and a lot about very little". And MOOCs is one of the areas about which I know very little! That's why I accepted Isobel Nancarrow's invitation to join the LinkedIn Group "Explore Social: Massive Open Online Courses" (here) and write a blog.
I know what MOOCs are. I kind of understand the way they work. I know and respect several people who have organised and run MOOCs. I have actually been interested in some of the topics they cover...
So why then have I not joined in and done one yet? What's stopping me from getting involved? I figure that if I have barriers - and I am an L&D professional with an interest in technology and social media - then exploring what they might be and then getting over them, may help others both within the profession and potential MOOC learners, to understand and reflect on their engagement with MOOCs.
Let's start with information overload. There so many online websites and networking groups presenting and sharing great content from so many enlightened - and some not so - professionals, that I struggle to take it all in. I have a day job; I'm a husband and a Dad; we're still unpacking and settling into our new home, 6 months on. I do my best to keep up - twitter (tweeting and tweetchats), LinkedIn, Google+, facebook, Pinterest, blogs and blogging, conferences/unconferences; I've just downloaded onto my Kindle two free training books by Paul Matthews at People Alchemy...  aaarrrggghhhh! And now I've got to make time to do MOOCs as well?
"What about your commuting time?" I hear you ask. "Surely you got time and space to do some more development then?". Well, apart from the 'no wifi on the train' response, there's also 'my time for reflection' (or 'sleep', as I have come to know it over the years).
All that said, I have accepted the invitation to write this blog; I have checked into the associated LinkedIn Group site and, from there, I have also enrolled in the Curatr MOOC, "Exploring Social Learning" (sign up here), so that I can learn more about MOOCs. It looks like a four-week commitment of around two hours per week, apparently. I've now completed the Onboarding and the Curating My Contributions modules and can now start Week 1's content.
I have dipped my toes in the water. I'm starting to see some possibilities; for example, creating and facilitating a digital/social media skills course for my L&D colleagues and others across the business. It's early days. I shall report back as my learning experience in this MOOC progresses.