#OAPS101: A Sense of Balance

We are into Day 19 of the small open online course (SOOC) Observing and Analysing Performance. Although we are having new enrollments each day, the volume of exchange on the OpenLearning platform has lessened. I do hope that there is peripheral participation going on and that we are exemplifying how a self-organising learning community operates.

The course has given me an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on my practice and my aspirations for education as enlightenment. After writing the Daily Wrap this morning, I followed a Twitter link to the Ernst and Young Report on the University of the Future. Page 6 of the report has a graphic of five megatrends transforming higher education:

I am fascinated to discover that our SOOC seems to be meeting these megatrends head on. I am very conscious that e-activity has a cost (a point made in today’s #Converge12 discussions in Melbourne). A few weeks ago Kent Anderson pointed out in a Scholarly Kitchen post:

Energy costs continue to be a focus of digital dissemination, especially as online becomes the predominant mode of information exchange. As you may recall, a small study we published here found that even running an archive in maintenance mode could cost tens of thousands of dollars per year in energy costs. This didn’t compare the carbon footprints of print to online, but it’s clear that digital publishing has an appreciable carbon footprint as well as significant energy costs.

The Internet was supposed to be magical — a virtual realm, an effortless superhighway of information, elevating us from the mundane into an electronic otherness. But it’s not magical. It’s a set of technologies that require resources, including extensive infrastructure composed of expensive and dangerous elements and metals; plenty of human support and intervention to keep it running; and lots of energy to light it.

Print is a set of technologies. Online is a set of technologies. The digital world is not clean or cheap. It is expensive …

Notwithstanding these issues I do see the SOOC approach we have taken to be a scalable and inclusive way of sharing expertise within and between institutions and industry sectors.

We have not pursued a gamification approach in our SOOC but after hearing Helen Keegan’s account of Rufi Franzen I am thinking that there are some important pedagogical issues to address as we stimulate and connect learners.

Our SOOC has 450 enrollments and we have had visits from 80 countries. We have taken a non-linear approach to content (participants follow their interests) and offered Open Badges.  I am hopeful that many of those enrolled will provide a summative comment about the course to help the next phase of planning and sharing.

I am thinking that a SOOC model can offer adaptive flow to learning experiences. I am hoping too that a SOOC can be personal and connected.

I am keen to learn how to support a course that has developed its own sense of balance. A free open course has time, I think, to ponder these issues.

Photo Credit

Balancing Act (State Library of New South Wales, no known copyright)

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