The Current / Future State of Higher Education: Another MOOC Experience

Current/Future State of Higher EducationIt’s time to give a MOOC another go. This time it’s on a topic anyone reading this blog should find relevant: The Current/Future State of Higher Education.

This MOOC is quite different from the Coursera and Google MOOCs that I blogged about before. (By the way, I recently heard someone pronounce it like “book” rather than like the sound a cow makes. I liked that.)

This one is different not just because of content, but because of the design behind the course. This MOOC is designed using a Connectivist framework. Anyone who has heard me speak about learning has heard me mention Connectivism–at least in passing. It’s the idea that knowledge exists in a network, rather than resting with an individual. It’s an approach to learning that exists outside of scheduled semesters or the domain of a specific course.  I mention it to librarian-teachers because though it’s a radical approach to traditional institutions, it’s a type of learning that happens in areas learners are passionate about. And since it’s happening with people in our communities, and libraries are excellent sources of information, we could be nodes in these learning networks.

You might have heard of PLNs (Personal Learning Networks)? It’s that idea. It’s my giant Twitter network that keeps me in the loop on issues in libraries, technology, education, etc. It’s the blogs that I read regularly and comment on. It’s my Facebook “librarians” group. And you probably have a few PLNs yourself. It’s any network of people that you learn from and share with to enhance your learning over time. The learning you do there exists outside of a schedule and doesn’t have a required reading list. However, the learning you do there can be just as deep (or more so, sometimes) than the traditional classroom learning you did in the same area.

All that to say that it’s particularly exciting that this CFHE12 course is using that framework. Then, beyond that, I put together that the father of Connectivism himself is running the course (or at least speaking for it). So that’s a bonus. The class is up an running, and it’s not too late to join in. It’ll involve some reading, some listening to speakers, and contributing your thoughts wherever it is you spend time on the web. There will be a daily newsletter compiled of posts, tweets, etc, using the CFHE12 hashtag. That newsletter will be a good way to keep the discussion going.

It’s fun timing. At the same time I’ve been having conversations with John about how we’re both asked about how we find the information we find (and later reference in conversations), and for us it’s all about trusted sources. Having really good sources helps you identify good information. And having a strong PLN is a way to have good sources you trust. And if you’re just getting started, we’re just getting started on seeing services to help you build one. I’m sure I’ll do a follow up post on that idea in the future. Until then, I have some reading to do!

My name is Lauren Pressley. This is where I think out loud, document what I'm doing, and share the things that I like. I'm the Director for Learning Environments at Virginia Tech University Libraries and author of a few books. This blog focuses on libraries, education, information, & the internet. When not at work or blogging, I spend most of my time with John and our son, Leif.