Wondering how a MOOC works?

Jim Shimabukuro, from Kapiolani CC, has created an excellent explanation of How to Teach Online MOOC works. If you don’t have a clue about this new way of learning, check out Jim’s post.

Response to ‘Uncomfortable with MOOC’

I’m an experienced online learner and teacher, but seem to be having difficulty understanding WHAT to do in this course so far. Anyone feeling a little lost? Are we supposed to post here? On our individual blogs? Where does the interaction take place? When we find out how to comment on others’ blogs? Do we need a gmail address (someone mentioned Google+)? It looked like things were organized until I started trying to DO them.


The web is ultimately a massive publishing platform. Thus, one way I get a feel for a particular course (MOOC or whatever) is to quickly scan the publishing footprint. Let’s take your post, for example.

As a TOMOOC participant, you published ”Uncomfortable With MOOC” in your Teach Online Course blog:


Online Teacher's blog post.

Online Teacher’s post in her blog.

It was automatically fed via RSS to the TOMOOC site . . .

Your post on the HowTOL site.

Your post on the TOMOOC site.


. . . and FlipBoard . . .

Your post on FlipBoard

Your post on FlipBoard

. . . and shared via email:

Your post in a HowTOL email announcement.

Your post in a TOMOOC email announcement.

It could also be mentioned in the TOMOOC Twitter feed via the #tomooc hashtag:


Twitter feed option.

When your post is mentioned by fellow participants in their blogs (and other social media platforms), it is further distributed. When it’s absorbed by search engines and listed in searches, the circle expands exponentially.  And this process is ongoing.

Thus, when you ask, Where does the interaction take place?, most would find it tough to answer. I suppose one answer is that it takes place on the TOMOOC site, but that answer would be misleading. The site is the hub for the MOOC, but the action takes place throughout the fluid and ever-expanding network (and embedded subnetworks) that forms the course.

In a sense, the answer is in the word “MOOC.” TOMOOC is a massive, open, and online course. Like a massive open superhighway, you decide when and where to onramp and offramp. Destination and speed differs for everyone, determined by personal needs, resources, and preferences.

Greg and his team are showing us strategies that we might consider incorporating into our online courses. By doing, by jumping in, we’re learning. “Real” learning is by definition challenging, and at its best, scary. It’s a departure from the familiar, from our old constructs of reality, and it invariably involves failure and confusion, stumbling and mistakes. We could save ourselves a lot of misery by simply dropping out or sitting on the sidelines, but we also wouldn’t learn.

You’ve asked a good question: What’s in it for me?

The problem is that you‘re the only one who can answer that. This answer may sound like a copout, but it’s the only one that makes sense. You have to decide if this process, which is frustrating to some extent for everyone, is worthwhile.

Is this MOOC approach effective pedagogy?

If you’ve worked with technology for a while, you know that an important part of the “best” approach or practice to learning is determined by the task. The problem is that, in the world of technology, tasks worth learning are complex, and we quickly realize that simple linear or rote approaches just won’t work. Thus, instead of giving students fish for a day, best practice is to teach them how to fish.

Learning how to learn is the pedagogy, and the bottom line is constructivism. Jump in and see what happens. Build your version (repurpose) of the course with your posts — posts that reflect who you are and what you’re learning. Add or remove (deconstruct) features as you go. This is all part of the active learning process.

I think you’re already far ahead of most of us in constructing your presence, sharing your thoughts, generating discourse, shaping others’ thinking, contributing your expertise and experience, etc. You’ve made me question MOOCs and why I’m here, and you’re changing my construct of the course.


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