In the last few weeks I have experienced some of the best learning of my life. Ryan Baker’s presentation on educational data mining organised through the #LAK12 Open Online Course not only blew my mind in terms of content (for example: did you know that urban students show more off-task behaviours when online than rural students? me either!) but it also blew my mind because the experience I had of learning through the MOOC format was truly exhilarating.
Sat in my kitchen at 8pm on a Tuesday evening I watched Baker’s slides and could hear him talking – in real-time – about his work. In the bottom corner of the screen we viewers could write our thoughts and questions. At one point the microphone was wobbling but the alert audience soon sorted that with textual cries of “We can’t hear you” giving Baker the opportunity to adjust. Later in the event people could pose questions which Baker then answered giving an opportunity for those who dislike standing at a microphone to actually have their questions answered.
But even more amazing for me was that as the presentation was going on I could check information online, pull research articles as they were mentioned, broadcast ideas I had to twitter and get feedback from teacher colleagues here in the UK who were sat in their hous watching tv quite unaware of what I was listening in to. There was just so. much. learning. And it was awesome in the literal sense of the word – for the entire hour I was in awe of how much information I was able to take in and make sense of in so many different ways.
Being a traditionalist I still turned pen to paper once the experience was over. Using all the information from the previous hour I designed some illustrations and wrote some texts to help recapture and synthesise what I had been taught. But I was absolutely buzzing. That the topic itself was about learning data and the use of online technologies was cool; that being involved in online learning was so genuinely inspirational is what has truly turned me on to the power of MOOCs.