At the local Waldorf High School in Keene, NH the kids interrupted a class in projective geometry (did you know that parallel lines DO intersect at some point in space?) to do the Harlem Shake. I didn't know what this was about until my kid (who is in the class) informed me. Just when I'm thinking that young people today are too disconnected and lifeless, they collaborate and create something that's a bit weird, but definitely full of energy and life.
My friend and colleague Michael Caulfield has been busy busy creating the perfect online MOOC for Introduction to Psychology which I will be piloting this summer. I've been teaching an online summer course for years at Keene State College but this will be my first foray in to MOOC land where the course will be publicly posted and open to others across the planet to participate. In the past, my online courses have been "enclosed" so that only ten or fifteen of my students could participate. So, as one of my current students would say, "what's the deal?" A few things I'm hoping for:
1. Collaboration. While I currently have research projects in Autism with other people in other parts of the world, my teaching is pretty much limited to little Keene, NH. Not only can I invite students in from other places, but why not colleagues with particular areas of interest? MOOC's hold out that promise of "breaking the campus barrier" and encouraging hybridization of teaching.
2. Diversity. Inviting students (and colleagues) from around the planet is good exposure for my students who tend to be a rather homogenous bunch from the the northeast region of the U.S. This summer they'll get a chance to exchange ideas with people from across the globe.
3. Scrutiny. I can invite my colleagues (who are admittedly skeptical) to hop in at any time. Every exchange, every word that is spoken in the MOOC, is there to be viewed and analyzed for it's didactic value. Want to know what I'm doing in the classroom, please come visit.
4. Accomodating the mobile student. Many of my students are busy in the summer working or on internship. The MOOC allows them to take that course they need too keep up. It also allows them to "stay in-house" with their academic work, rather than being forced to take courses at their local college where we don't have any control over the quality of teaching.
5. Searching for my Instructional Designer. It doesn't matter where my colleague Michael travels, he's always available to assist. A few days ago I reached him using the Google Voice app he uses on his cell (I could hear fireworks going off but didn't bother to ask him where he was).