This is another post "about the MOOC", or more specifically a design idea for anyone considering hosting a MOOC. For the purpose of this post, I use the term facilitator to mean whomever is hosting the MOOC.
Based upon two of connectivism's principles, specifically: "Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions" and "Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning" (Siemens, 2004). I asked myself, what can MOOC designs / facilitators do to help cultivate conversation and foster connections within the very large MOOC community?
In another realm I've worked in, youth conferences based upon the principles of intentional community, participants to a large conferences are assigned to "touch groups" upon entering the community. These touch groups meet multiple times throughout the conference. They provide a small group within the sea of people, so that individuals are not lost. They make it easier for new people to get their bearings and more familiar members to provide mentorship.
This idea got me wondering about touch groups within a MOOC, and what that might look like. My thoughts are that they would be voluntary, but people who signed up would be making a committment to connect with those in their touch groups – perhaps a commitment to making a post once per week within their small group and to reply to 3 or 4 others within their small group, throughout the time of the MOOC.
Some questions that need to be considered about touch groups:
- If people had the opportunity to be placed randomly into a touch group at the beginning would they do it?
- Would enough "mentors" join the touch groups to make them effective? Or does that even matter?
- Is it too much effort for facilitators or could the touch group assignment be automated, such that at the end of the first week, anyone who signed up get assigned to their groups.
- How big would each group be? Perhaps 15-people or is that too many? You need
- How would groups communicate? Would the facilitator group
What do you think? Is this a good idea that someone should try? Or something that doesn't make any sense at all? If you like the idea, how would you approach it?
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