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Horses for open courses: Making the backend of a MOOC with WordPress – experiences from ocTEL (396)

Public Session active 4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 1:55pm – 2:55pm
Located in Conference Suite 3B/C
In theme Openness

Martin Hawksey ALT Member, UK Recently Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have caught the attention of academia. Since the emergence of the term in 2008 the underlying concept has been adopted by various parties, both commercial and academic, including startups...... Read More

Martin Hawksey
ALT Member, UK

Recently Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have caught the attention of academia. Since the emergence of the term in 2008 the underlying concept has been adopted by various parties, both commercial and academic, including startups like Coursera. There is considerable hyperbole currently around MOOCs but amidst this a number of academics are exploring the potential of this course format as one of the facets in 21st century learning. A number of these courses are maintaining the core philosophy of a connectivist view of learning. This view places the emphasis on the student's own learning spaces, the learner put in control over modes and places of interaction deliberately removing the need for educational institutions to provide a dedicated space often closed from the influence and support of others. This feature creates a need to effectively aggregate and disseminate activity data generated by students and tutors to help in navigation and sense making.

In a recent survey of the tools used to support the delivery of connectivist style MOOCs it was concluded that course teams are taking a loosely joined set of tools that they are comfortable with to facilitate a shared experience with the learner (Hawksey, 2012). Common tools which appear in a number of courses include Stephen Downes’ gRSShopper aggregation tool and the use of the FeedWordPress plugin for WordPress.

In this short presentation the author will demonstrate how the later of these tools was configured to support the delivery of ALT’s Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL). Building on the work of the open course in Digital Storytelling (DS106) delivered by the University of Mary Washington this presentation will highlight a number of specific design features which may be of interest to other staff considering delivering courses in a similar manner.

At the heart of this design is a pull/push model whereby a selection of free WordPress plugins are used to aggregate student activity within the platform and from multiple external channels including personal blogs, bookmarking and social media sites. Course participants then choosing to browse the data aggregated in WordPress, as part of their own sense making journey, or receive email notifications of aggregated content which uses course activity data to highlight items that might be of most interest.

By the end of the session participants will have gained insight into using WordPress as a platform to support the delivery of open courses.

Hawksey, Martin., 2012. Notes on technology behind cMOOCs: Show me your aggregation architecture and I’ll show you mine. MASHe, [blog] 01 August. Available at: <http://mashe.hawksey.info/2012/08/notes-on-technology-behind-cmoocs-show-me-your-aggregation-architecture-and-ill-show-you-mine/> [Accessed 08 May 2013]

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