I’m finally plugging away at a paper have due for journal submission in a few weeks. It describes the mixable Online Open Course. And while typing it, I realized there is one thing I have never made quite clear here about how it works.
Basically, it’s a centralized MOOC that allows different institutions and informal groups to sign up and run sections. These sections aren’t an abstract entity — they are literally section permissions in the LMS, complete with rights to give announcements to your section, alter submission dates (maybe), and most importantly view your students progress and grades.
The way this would work is this: I work at Keene State. With a faculty member, I put together a course for online delivery, ala xMOOC. We design the course to require work equivalent to about 2.5 Carnegie credit-hours.
A professor at Ball State is teaching a Psychology class that semester. She sees this course is on offer via Canvas.net, and signs up to run a section. Once in, she enrolls her students. Her students get all the mainline communication, activities, and presentations of the course, complete with our Keene State MOOC instructor leading the class. But she also gets the section-based tools I mentioned above — access to student grades, customized announcements and the like. And if someone from Fort Hays or Skyview High School or a university in China or the local bar wants to run a section, they can run one too.
We call these sections subcohorts, and the advantage of many of them is that they may map onto either physical colocation or other existing attributes that promote strong social connection (say, a group connected by blogging). The subcohorts interact with other subcohorts, and form multiple variations of the course, building in a community-engaged project in one case or blogging the hell out of the experience in another. A Community of Practice (CoP) develops around the facilitators of the separate sections, and the individuals in the cohorts share what is essentially a Community of Inquiry (CoI).
I think this is an incredibly powerful idea, and yet I find no one really talking about it in xMOOC-space. The idea that people are infatuated with is to throw everyone into the one massive cohort. Why? Why not this instead? What am I missing?