Thursday, February 13, 2014

Inside Higher Education: The iPhone and the MOOC

February 12, 2014 - 9:00pm  / Joshua Kim

I’ve discovered the secret (sort of) for getting through a MOOC (mostly). Don’t use a computer.

In my vast experimenting in the open online education field (an N of 1 - namely me), I’ve found that I significantly more likely to make it through a MOOC if I consume the course materials via my iPhone.

Why forgo the power of the keyboard and the pleasure of a large screen when accessing the latest and greatest in open online learning?  3 reasons:

1. Multitasking:

 Whoever said that multitasking is a myth has never witnessed me MOOC (can I use it as a verb?) while running (slowly) on my treadmill. My iPhone sits on that little treadmill shelf. My laptop not so much.

 The big problem with MOOCs is that they do not come with an extra hour in our day. Maybe MOOCs should be bundled with caffeine pills. The reality is that the only way that I’m going to MOOC is if I can do so while doing something else. Joining the open online learning movement while driving seems like a bad idea (I’d get distracted from the curriculum), exercising seems like the only part of my day that is a candidate for new MOOC time.  

2. Not Multitasking:

The other great advantage of logging into my MOOCs on my iPhone is that the iPhone is lousy at switching between tasks. What a great feature.  

 With my laptop the lure of e-mail is a click away. I wish that my fancy MacBook Air was something more than an e-mail appliance (you’ve got mail - always - answer it!), but that is the sad fact of life. 

I’ll stay with one thing on an iPhone for 30 minutes. Try that on your computer.

3. Consuming: 

 The final reason why I’m migrating to solely MOOCing on my iPhone is that I’m really bad at MOOCS. Mostly I only want to watch the videos (at 1.5 speed).The forums don’t hold all that much interest.  The assignments - forget about it.

At some point we will all realize that open online education is like Twitter. Dip in the stream when you are so moved. Stop feeling guilty. Sign up promiscuously and graze as the mood strikes. 

The people who learn the most from MOOCs will be the people who teach (and help create) the MOOCs. We will learn many many wonderful things. 

Those on the other end of the (sometimes small screen) should not feel so much pressure.

How do you MOOC?

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