Saturday, November 1, 2014

MOOCs and Bar Camps

The feature "MOOCs: Mass Learning in the Age of the Individual" (Linux User & Developer magazine, issue 142, which I picked up in a newsagent), points to the pioneering work on Massive Open On-line Courses by George Siemens at Athabasca University and Stephen Downes at the Canadian National Research Council. The article also mentions Coursera and Udacity and as it is a UK publication Open University's FutureLearn and Edinburgh University's research on MOOCs. Most of this will be familiar with those interested in MOOCs, but a sidebar on "Happy (bar) campers" drew parallels between cooperative learning in cMOOCs and face to face physical events popularly known as Barcamps and Hackdays (such as Random Hacks of Kindnes). With these people get together over one or two days to work on a computer applications, web site, app or other technological solution to some problem. As the article points out, those taking part may be there to learn, as well use their skills. There may be scope for combining the on-line MOOC with such events, as part of formal education.

Events such as Gov Hack and Random Hacks of Kindness have used the format of live face-to-face events at multiple locations, with the participants networked together. These events can make use of a "follow the sun" format, where the events runs continuously for 24 hours or longer, with each venue in an appropriate time-zone taking over the administration during their working hours. This might be used for an intensive live (synchronous) educational activity to complement an asynchronous event. Students would attend in person if there is a venue nearly (or set one up) or link into the event online.

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