Category Archives: MOOCS

This is for the MOOCS!

ELI 2013 Analytics: Learning From Our Connections

Top 25 Words Used In Tweets in the Final Days of ELI 2013

In this post I am using Twitter analytics to learn about the major themes, discussions, and resources which emerged at the Educause Learning Initiative Annual Meeting held in Denver, CO, Feb. 4-6, 2013.

First of all, I did not attend ELI 2013. I was on the sidelines, watching from afar as the presentations happened, the conversations were had, and folks were discussing the state of teaching and learning today.

I feel privileged to have technology today, such as the Internet and Twitter, to be able to “listen” in from the outside as people become inspired to share publicly online. I did this primarily by following the hashtag #eli2013 on my computer as I sat in my office in Upstate NY as the conference unfolded. As I monitored the “real-time” Internet I caught glimpses of what was going on in the moments I sat and paid attention to it.

This blog summary is to force myself to try to grasp the major themes and resources using some analytics generated for free using the tool TweetArchivist, and to think and reflect on these findings.

MOOCS are here

First of all, it is fairly clear that the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were the main theme of the online conversation. Out of 25 top words gleaned from Tweets in the final days of #ELI2013, 4 of the words were MOOC-related. One of the curious terms I was interested in is “MOOCMAP.” Upon further exploration, this was a session at ELI which was titled “Roadmap to Launching A MOOC, Collaborating Across Units, Rethinking Faculty and Technology Services.” This session was put on by Cassandra Volpe Horii and Leslie Maxfield.

Andy Salterelli shared a nice blog post on key points to consider when launching MOOCs.

Rounding out the top 10 were some other key trends. Learning was by far the most used word, and rightly so (it’s also in the conference title). Yet, in the context of MOOC’s, learning is more student driven and self-directed, possibly signaling a shift toward personal responsibility for one’s own learning. Students and faculty are also included in the top 10.

Online, Mobile, and Badges were other topics of conversation. Online learning is still an active trend, as is mobile, and they have been for years. The badge conversation, in my view, is a relatively new one. Let’s explore that.

Experimenting With Badges

In doing some research, it seems that the conference was actively experimenting with badges for this conference. Here’s the “7 things you should know about” on badges”. I see this as a very proactive move on behalf of the ELI conference committee to build awareness of badges by using them at their conference. I had not heard of credly before this conference, the service used to manage the badges. The badge conversation in higher ed should be one to watch this year. There must be a potential NITLE prediction market question about badges we can come up with to track these developments.

Top 25 URL's Referenced at ELI 2013

Next we can look at some of the top URL’s referenced at ELI. I personally find it fascinating to see the two “maker” community referenced links. Maker, to me, is a shift back to creating physical things, using our hands, tools, and technology. This certainly bucks the powerful online MOOC trend at the conference. I’ve been aware of Makerfaire for a couple years, but I had never seen a clear connection to higher ed. Does this movement have legs in higher education?

What does Maker mean in the context of technology and learning? To me, the eloquent Audrey Watters may have been taking a contrarian off-line stance as a reaction to online MOOC fever. I can see a profound back-to-basics interest in college students these days, with interests in farming, sustainability, building, and this is right in line with the Maker movement. Perhaps we are witnessing the beginning of a paradigm shift toward pragmatism in higher ed, and John Dewey would likely approve of the Maker movement being brought into this conversation. Or, perhaps, the Maker movement is right in line with MOOCs, as they are both examples of self motivated learning…just in different mediums.

Truly Amazing Resources, App Finder, EBook Roadmap, Etc.

As far as some of the other noteable links, one was an amazing roadmap to ebook publishing by Edward R. O’neill. A great App Finder website by the Tenessee Board of Regents is worth a try next time your are looking for an app. Kyle D. Bowen shared some presentation graphics at Another popular link was for the ELI public webcasts, so you can catch up on a session that you missed from the comfort of your own computer. Additionally, a Gallup/Lumina Foundation Poll that calls for a Need to Redesign Higher Education may be worth checking out. There was some mobile gaming, with a very interesting storytelling platform called ArisGames. (I’ll be checking this one out.)

Interestingly, the first resource with a MOOC focus is Derek Bruff’s article on starting a Coursera Initative at Vanderbilt, valuable reading if you are considering a digital learning initiative. There’s an article from 2006 on how Second Life is the future, and a new book on social media for educators by Tanya Joosten. Stanford has a website that looks to be a hub for discussing education’s digital future. Mikah Jenae on her blog has a Digital Storytelling Toolbox and outlines the tools available for telling different types of stories online. There is a link to a study on how students are using digital learning resources in their learning. Here is the Educause Social Media Constituent Group if you want to join. InBloom looks to be a learning analytics solution sponsored by Gates/Carnegie foundations which seems to be an initiative worth following. Finally, nextgenlearning hopes to transform education by connecting innovators, innovations, and funding.

Top Twitter Users Mentioned at ELI 2013


To conclude, just a note on the people sharing the conference online. While MOOC’s was a theme, the Maker movement popular, and the experiment with the badges novel, at the end of the day it is about personal connections. The above list of folks, and everyone else sharing and conversing online, made this post possible. If you are looking for a great group of open, sharing individuals to connect with, I suggest starting with the folks listed above.

It is clear to me that ELI 2013 serves as a valuable venue for ideas and connections in teaching and learning, and even adds to the conversation by enhancing the in person experience (badges, webcasts, etc.) Thanks to all of you who presented and shared, and to ELI 2013 for creating the opportunity for them to do that. I am deeply grateful for all of this online content, and I look forward to catching up on the sessions online.


UPDATE: I took everyone from the top mentions in the graphic above, and I created a twitter list called Online Leaders #ELI2013. If you have a Twitter account, you can subscribe to this list. One stop shopping! I also created a sweet online newspaper using The Tweeted Times for one stop shopping that will take the most mentioned articles from the list above and promote the top ones, daily. Check it out. 🙂




A Crowdsourced Essay on MOOCs and Higher Education Pedagogies

Note: This essay was created as a crowdsourced Google Doc as part of the Monday assignment for #MOOCMOOC. I found it worthwhile reading. I also wanted to get an initial post up for #MOOCMOOC to test the RSS feed. Enjoy.

Two colored faces with multiple faces embedded

MOOCs and Higher Education Pedagogies

In Higher Education (HE), students develop abilities to think independently, critically, and creatively in ways which support lifelong learning. HE learning goals include building upon pre-existing information (such as that learned in grades K-12), developing knowledge and skills, and acquiring credentials.

HE has traditionally used a range of teaching and learning methods: classroom lectures, small-group tutorials, guided seminars, supervised lab or practice-based sessions, guided field trips, guided reading and private study for a formative assignment with comments and marking.  Assessment methods include  tests, essays, problem-solving, individual and group projects, and other discipline-specific approaches.

Since digital technologies have been available in HE, we have explored digital versions of some of these methods, mainly lectures / reading delivered as digital resources, videos, using digital media tools from web 2.0 and online discussion groups, mainly asynchronously.

These include related concepts of connection and engagement, including learner-to-learner interaction and the cooperative construction of new knowledge.

However, there is still the expectation that a person attending an institution of HE is mainly acquiring knowledge through attendance within a closed learning environment during a specified period of time. Even when students in HE (including taught graduate students) . These pedagogies use similar instructional strategies and have similar learning goals.

While it is as yet unclear to what extent MOOCs will affect traditional higher education structures, we can speculate about the ways they may influence approaches to teaching and learning. If layers of double loop learning can be developed, MOOCs could be beneficial for professional development in HE. As most HE professionals are self-directed learners, MOOCs can be used for field specific or general development.

Because knowledge is not scarce, MOOCs can help traditional student/teacher conversations focus on higher-level outcomes instead of facts. This is in line with newer learning ideas, such as “flipped classrooms” and provides the ability for more HE instructors to use a flipped style, letting the MOOC be the lecture, and spending class time on discussion and problem-solving, giving students skills that will be useful for them.

Connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) may alter pedagogy from instructor-as-director and even beyond peer-to-peer learning to a focus on learning within a personal learning network with input from within and beyond the MOOC participants. For example, Coursera MOOCs allow students to review their peers’ assignments . The issue then becomes avoiding “the blind leading the blind” while allowing students to determine their own learning methods and goals. As with Wikipedia and other social knowledge websites, someone should navigate the ship and ensure that information is accurate.

One change MOOCs provide is the openness and democratization of education. Students in traditional courses can use MOOCs to learn outside of the classroom, use that knowledge to improve their interactions with faculty, and strengthen a lifelong interest in learning.

MOOCs have emerged from components of online learning and social media revolutionizing connections and networks. They form a badly-needed response to CFCs – Small, Closed, Face-to-Face (F2F) Courses and for profit online learning as well. They represent the most radical undertaking to date of ‘flipping the classroom’. Since they are relatively new and untested, MOOCs will likely not replace any traditional classroom learning (in the near-future), but rather enhance and enrich it. F2F sessions still have much to offer, such as supervised practice, immediate feedback from both peers and teachers, and synchronous work.

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) allows people to explore some of the same knowledge and content available in formal HE institutions, while also generating and contributing knowledge within a network. MOOCs use the Internet to offer organized learning experiences that are asynchronous and free, thus bypassing limitations that can keep some people out of HE institutions. Everyone with an internet connection can have access to a MOOC. According to Savitz (2012), even if edX MOOCS cannot replace a Harvard Diploma, online courses can still provide significant value in filling gaps in skills to meet job market demands. Further, MOOCs can help such people expand their career options by providing quality content, openness, and flexibility producing new opportunities to acquire additional skills. A campus-based education prior to joining the workforce with paper-based “proof” of competence may be replaced by real time, permanent, secured, cloud-based digital records of accomplishment, freeing individuals to pursue knowledge that is relevant to their needs in the moment.

There are a number of approaches to learning associated with MOOCs, most of which are similar to existing HE pedagogies: (i) Knowledge is often acquired by lecture but is self-paced, meaning it can occur anytime and anywhere, and may be done without anyone else in the room. (ii) There is peer-to-peer learning, but it occurs through the internet, either in real-time or not. The main difference is that some MOOCs create a connectivist and networked, but decentralized flow of information and ideas between peer learners, where there is more potential for generating and sharing own understandings and knowledge instead of simply absorbing. Because they are not as teacher-directed, MOOCs aren’t currently thought of as being connected with a distinct curriculum. The learner decides what courses to take, depending on their own objectives, at their own time and pace. All of this requires an especially self-regulated, motivated, and autonomous learner because there is little personalised guidance and feedback. MOOCS often maintain rigid time schedules, but are less likely to maintain the planned curricula as more traditional courses do.

The instructional principles of the early MOOCs were based in pedagogies of openness and connection. They were designed to maximize four key digital learning affordances (Downes & Siemens, 2010):Aggregation, remixing, re-purposing, and feeding forward. MOOCs also have additional learning outcomes including enhancing digital skills and developing a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

These instructional principles relate to a great degree to several pedagogic approaches that have found their way into (higher) education, e.g. challenge-based or problem-based learning  socializing are worthwhile. However, MOOCs, despite their short existence, have made a significant impact upon HE practices and pedagogy.

The MOOCMOOC is described as “A mini-MOOC, a meta-MOOC, a MOOC about MOOCs” and can be found online at You can follow along on Twitter following the hashtag #MOOCMOOC and can follow the project on Twitter at @MOOCMOOC, @HybridPed, and leading this MOOC is Jess Stommel, @jessifer along with a team of inspiring educators.

#ETMOOC Hub Is Like Duct Tape For Our New Year’s Creations


Well it’s officially official. If this works I have my brand spankin’ new WordPress website category moocs/etmooc/feed linked into the #ETMOOC hub. I’m looking forward to getting started.

I am MOOC curious Instructional Technologist at a small liberal arts college in upstate NY. My New Years resolution is to learn the guitar, and I fulfilled the New Years cliche and purchased a gym membership. I enjoy skiing and basketball, and I am a natural chef exploring the frontiers of a gluten free world. My niche in instructional technology is mapping and I enjoy trying to find new ways to use smartphones and location in teaching and research.

I probably spend a little too much time with my five year old son. When I taught him about what a New Years resolution is he told me in 2013 he wants to “create things“. We made this:


Final thought: Always, Always, Always have a good supply of duct tape around for creative moments with kids.

See you in the #ETMOOC!

Alex Chaucer
You can find me online at, and on Twitter @geoparadigm