Sometimes your own blogging can turn around and nip at ya. One of my favorite tags of posts has been moocmocking. Now I’m riding the train, gimme an “M”…

Four cows in a field, an animated set of letter "m O O O C" appears over them

That’s right, now my current project is helping eCampus Ontario run a new round of the Ontario Extend project, starting January 2019… as a mOOC (medium sized Open Online Course).

Ontario Extend

“is a capacity building initiative that is grounded in the belief that the impact of learning should be the primary motivator for creating technology-enabled and online learning experiences. It aims to empower educators to explore a range of emerging technologies and pedagogical practices for effective online and technology-enabled teaching and learning.”

The program was built around a series of modules that are framed as attributes of an empowered educator.

I was lucky to have been invited to help be part of the launch and bits of building out a few web sites for the first year. Offering Domain of One’s Own to participants, connecting in social media, and the things I got to add like a Syndication Hub, a Daily Extend, and an activity bank — all of them right out of the things I have done for years, spawns of DS106. We had a number of type DS106 people who took off with their learning.

It was all in the open, distributed, and a bit messy. From last summer’s research project, surveys and interviews with first year participants, the project leadership felt a re-deployment was needed, one that was a bit more structured and course-like. They wanted to try an approach that more people would take on and persist in, so hence the idea of running it as a mOOC in the edX platform.

My colleague Terry Greene has been busy transporting the Extend Modules into the edX platform, and doing as he does so well, stirring up interest.

And I was asked to help craft the mOOC experience.


I take that as a positive challenge to take on. You see, my MOOC mocking was more about the insane hype that has already nosedived into the Gartner pool of despair. The whole DS106 thing has some nods to give to the 2008 original Connectivist MOOC of Cormier. Downes, Siemens, et al.

So it’s not about what platform we use; I’d like to think we can do something interesting in any platform.

Our approach is a bit of what Terry calls a “reverse Trojan horse”. We start off with everything happening inside the mOOC- we can do equivalents of Daily Extends as forum responses, the same of the responses to the module activities (but provide links to examples in the Activity Bank).

But along the way, we gradually offer what we call more optional, open doors to the exterior. Twitter will not be required, but we will suggest people use it who want to (and to give the outside a view of the inside). And from the beginning, we will offer those who wish the more DIY approach of Extend 1, to do their work as it was set up then- post to blogs, add links to the Activity Bank, but share also in the mOOC forums.

To me, this is akin to the approach Matt Crosslin described as a “dual layered” MOOC, but not quite as separate layers, but freedom to bounce back and forth.

Discussion forums are like as old as dirt in web technology, but facilitated well, they ought to be the active part of the mOOC that is conversation, debate, discussion, right? For people not leading edgers, the noise of twitter is more than distracting, it’s likely a deterrent.

One of the ways Slack might figure is an optional space for doing what we had done on the UDG Agora project of forming small 3 member teams (“triads”) among a larger participant group of several hundred. We are thinking of ways participants could choose to form small support teams (people from same campus who can meet physically, people in the same discipline, people who just find an affinity for others via the first rounds of discussion). They would figure out the best way to communicate (email, text message, maybe a private channel in our Slack), and what they did as a team to support each other is up to them.

(this part is still in the thinking stage, so don’t pin me to it, but I like the model of smaller pools of communication among the larger ones)

So the work now is to restructure the flow of the modules to ft the edX model, which is rather linear. There will be check boxes to record your progress, and submitting for badges is all in the mix the same as last time.

The bigger goal is to have more people engaged, longer, and having more of a “hub” place to gather. Yeah, it’s a login to a MOOC platform, but there’s no lock on the door.

There’s a fair bit of organizing and banging on the edX pipes, but this train is in motion. One of the funniest moments I’ve had with Terry, besides his way of titling our meetings:

was when he said some guy named “Dave Cormier” had signed up. Like one of the MOOC original band members.

Stephen Downes brandishing a sword with large text "Teell Me again about Inventing the MOOC!"

More is better, come on in Dave.

And feel free to mock me back for being on the MOOC train. Some of my own fodder:

MOOCs on a Plane poster

Pivot MOOC

Pivot MOOC flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

MOOCster monster comic book cover remix

MOOC Hysertia horror movie poster


Moocopoly flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

(I have way more than this!)

Featured Image: Cropped original to better emphasise the COW!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as

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