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.


  1. Hi Niall, Looking forward to your next blogs! I'll be curating the Dutch version of this MOOC in a month and expect a lot of MOOC - noobs to enroll. Maybe with your experiences we can ease their way a little. You do have at least one advantage : you're used to sharIng. Do you have any tips on how to help starters to take the hurdle of the First Post?

    1. Hi Petra,
      I AM a Belgian based & Dutch speaking HEad of Talent Development Solutions (formerly known as L&D;-) and one of Myteams has decided to familiarize themselves wit thee possibilities of MOOCs. Your Dutch persoon of this MOOC sounds as a gtreat help For them. Can you tell me more?

  2. Petra, thanks for your comment. Like I said, I'm new to MOOCs, hence my post. I'm starting a journey and blogging helps me reflect along the way. If others find any interest in my ramblings, then that's an added extra. Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to step into social media, online conversation and sharing. Hope that helps. Happy to chat further.

  3. Hello, Niall Gavin
    You have wonderful blog and I really impressed with your work
    Nice Post and Keep Sharing
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  4. Sometimes Technology Assisted Learning, these are parts of LinkedIn Group, Learning Technologies and Associated LinkedIn Group.
    Thanks for sharing

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  5. Hi Niall, as I alzo mentionned to Petra; I might have a remote team For you that could benefit enormously trom your MOOC explorations as they are entering in the Adventure too! It is early days for tem as well and I hope you can share part of thee journey.

    1. Sounds like we're building a learning community around MOOCs and sharing, Petra and Jelle. Reflection and sharing leads to connection and deeper learning. Let's keep the dialogue going.
      Jelle, I've also replied to your last query on LinkedIn re the 'Head of...' role, in the discussion thread there.
      Thanks both.

  6. You wrote awesome post Niall Gavin, I think what you are talking about it sound good. informative post regarding MOOC.
    Thanks for sharing
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