Just put in this proposal to a conference, thought it was worth reposting here as a discussion starter:

The “wrapped MOOC” has gained attention over the past year as a way to integrate MOOCs into traditional education. This presentation will present results of interviews with practitioners of this method to show that in practice most educators are not “wrapping” the cohort experience, but are instead using the MOOC as robust OER.  This trend is discussed in terms of “distributed flip” and “distributed blend” models, as well as David Wiley’s joking but correct observation that MOOCs are distraction from the potential of DROOL (DistRibuted Open Online Learning). Implications include a hidden but high demand for robust, course-level OER, and the possible desirability of approaching blended learning from the online experience “backwards”, as opposed to the traditional model which emphasizes the online refitting of an existing or assumed face-to-face experience.

That last part was crystallized by a chat with Kathy Chatfield down the street from here at Clark College. I’ve been fascinated with how much institutional reuse MOOCs are getting in blended scenarios, and how boundary-pushing many of those scenarios are compared to the generally conservative approaches you typically see with blended. I’ve attributed this to the robust and comprehensive nature of the MOOC materials, which provide for any level of blend and decrease what I’ve been calling “integration cost”.

That’s still all true, but what Kathy pointed out to me that it’s psychological as well; her research indicates it is much easier for people to look at a fully online course and think about what needs to be face-to-face than the other way around. Starting from a fully online course, people generally make better decisions about how to use class time. The other direction — not so much.

Thoughts? If it’s true, it’s yet another reason why we might be looking at a rebirth of open courseware as fully articulated courses designed and distributed in an LMS or LMS-like framework, with student and faculty support communities built around them.

And yes, the DROOL acronym is used here for humorous purposes only. PLEASE don’t let this become a standard term. New York Times, take note.

(P.S. I always struggle with how I write out open courseware. Obviously, with my background, I know the camel-case convention. But the convention makes it look too trademarked, too separate from more normal terms like open educational resources. So I’m trying to revitalize it by toning down the flash, OK?)

3 thoughts on “OERs Rule, MOOCs DROOL

  1. One of the good things that came out of the Educause MOOC sessions was a nice discussion/debate with my team about just this idea because it’s another way of framing part of the debate about MOOCs being (or not) just another form of open content. Being who we are, our discussion meandered off into the realm of the gray areas between educators’ favorite things and necessary things and how that often leads to replication that makes real “wrapping” even more difficult.

    But the idea of reasoning backward from the online experience to the blended/hybrid/f2f is an interesting angle. Online learning has long had the potential to be a force for interrogating the way face-to-face learning is situated and an opportunity for significant interventions. Maybe an unintended consequence of MOOC fever will be seeing some of that dynamic put to actual use…

    • Yeah, I hope so. It definitely helps people get past the “replace Tuesday’s class discussion with a forum” level of thinking.

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