Learner Agency and (non) MOOCs

The recent “division” of POTCERT reminded me of something. When I signed up for notifications about MechanicalMOOC,  I was asked, after I provided my email address, whether I was a learner who planned carefully, one whose first step was to seek help from others, or one who just plunged in and learned by trial and error.  It felt like a new kind of learning styles inventory. At the time, I pondered the question for a good minute before hesitantly declaring myself an experimenter.  Thinking back on how I edited my blog theme last night (lots of fits and starts, all in full public view) , I’m now much more certain that I answered the question accurately.

It occurs to me that the MOOCs I’ve participated in have very much been designed with the experimenter in mind.  This focus is perhaps most succinctly expressed by ds106’s tag line. “Make art, dammit.” It aligns well with current notions of formative assessment, and for people who don’t mind proclaiming (and often demonstrating– witness some of the bizarre font ,color, and background images that appeared on this blog last night) their lack of knowledge to the world, it works.

On the proverbial other hand,  I don’t want the nurse at the doctor’s office to learn how to safely give injections primarily by live trial and error.  Some learners who are more reserved may need a less public space in order to feel safe to try things.  Especially in large open classes, balancing the learning needs of the planners, the askers, and the experimenters may be a great as yet unmet challenge.

POTCERT12 is, to my knowledge,  the first attempt at this sort of subdivision. .  I’m particularly interested to see if both groups feel like they are part of a shared learning experience, or whether this ends up feeling more like two separate classes that happen to be using the same text and syllabus.

1 thought on “Learner Agency and (non) MOOCs

  1. Lisa M Lane

    Alec Couros’ #eci831 divided the class between credit and non-credit students, and it was pretty clear that the non-credit students were there to help. Because last year went so smoothly, I forgot about that model, and have brought it back.


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