December 13, 2013, by Helen Whitehead

Advent calendar #13: Longing for a MOOC Fairy!

can angelSarah Speight writes: Over the last few days, Helen Whitehead, Steven Stapleton and myself have been madly building Nottingham’s first MOOC for the FutureLearn platform: ‘Sustainability, Society and You’. We’ve run a Moodle version of the course twice now so you might think it should be easy just to transfer it from Moodle to FutureLearn. But it isn’t – hence my longing for a magic wand to whisk my activities and resources from one virtual place to another. As well as enormously exciting, it has been a little stressful – late one afternoon Helen sent me an email saying simply ‘Have you broken FutureLearn?’

We’ve been honing our design and pedagogy as we go, taking into account what features are available in Futurelearn at the moment. The discussions are a crucial part of the course and so we are spending time, again, thinking through how we can make them meaningful. We want to encourage interaction and response rather than just individual comments. The ethos of the course is collaborative cross-cultural learning; learning from, with and through each other. We hope to use ‘Think about’ prompts and initial postings from our Postgraduate Facilitators to help the conversations get started.

Another challenge is getting the ‘tone’ of the course right both for those who follow it sequentially from week to week, and those who dip in for specific chunks. Ideally, I’d prefer to use first names only for the tutor/facilitator team.  We’ve deliberately filmed our videos in informal and conversational settings in and around Cripps House on the University Park campus in Nottingham. But this won’t work for the occasional visitors who will lack a sense of who is who. Compromise is necessary.

These are the challenges that face the three of us as we work our way through the 8 weeks we need to build. By the end of the process, Helen, Steve and I will certainly be the ‘Three Wise Men’ of Nottingham’s MOOC initiative.

Posted in Advent calendarFuturelearnMOOCMOOC Team