10. MobiMOOC - Supporting the Mobile Web

MobiMOOC was offered by Inge de Waard and examined the mobile web and learning networks.

MobiMOOC in short

From 2 April to 14 May 2011, MobiMOOC[1] was organized by Inge de Waard and she remained present throughout the duration of the course both as one of the facilitators and the overall coordinator. The six-week course focused on mobile learning (mLearning) and used the MOOC format to deliver course resources and interact with all the participants. The course was free to anyone interested in the topic of mLearning.

The MobiMOOC lasted six weeks and every week focused on a different aspect of mLearning. Each of these weeks was facilitated by an mLearning expert. To ensure that participants were all on the same level, the course started with an introduction week on mLearning (facilitated by one of the authors), followed by mLearning planning (facilitated by Judy Brown), mLearning for development (facilitated by Niall Winters), leading edge innovations in mLearning (facilitated by David Metcalf), interaction between mLearning and a mobile connected society (facilitated by John Traxler), and mLearning in K-12 (facilitated by Andy Black). All the facilitators were guides on the side, each putting forward as many learning actions and follow-ups as they wanted, as each of these facilitators was voluntary engaged in this course.

MobiMOOC resources on the Web

The use of social media is central to a MOOC. As such, the participants in the course used a variety of web-based tools. The initiator of the course choose to centralize the course around two major web-based spaces: a MobiMOOC Google Group (http://groups.google.com/group/mobimooc/) and a MobiMOOC wikispace (http://mobimooc.wikispaces.com). Both were also marked with a RSS link to allow people keep informed on the latest developments. The Google Group was set-up to centralize discussions, while the course wiki was set-up to function as an online syllabus. Other social media spaces, such as YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/mobimooc), Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/mobimooc), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/groups/mobimooc/), and a Delicious tag (http://www.delicious.com/search?p=mobimooc&chk=&context=userposts|&fr=del_icio_us&lc=), were used throughout the course for sharing specific content. In addition to the official MobiMOOC web-spaces, some of the participants added other spaces during the course. Examples of these are the MobiMOOC Crowdmap (http://mobimooc.crowdmap.com/), the MobiMOOC LinkedIn group, the MobiMOOC Posterous blog, and the Zotero MobiMOOC group. The MobiMOOC content on these social media tools was in many cases also accessed with mobile devices

12 Tips for coping with the abundance of resources in MOOCs were given at the beginning of the course (constructed collaboratively by all MobiMOOC'ers)

1.       Use the course to your advantage! You know where you want to go, ask relevant help.

2.       Select between the abundance of resources. All of the facilitators have been in mobile learning for years, this means they have lists of resources. Do not expect yourself to go through them all: SELECT.

3.       Plan which type of participant you want to be during a MOOC you can have different levels of interaction. To know what time and effort you can invest in the MOOC you want to follow, make sure you have an idea of the time you can spend per week. In general one can have three major ways to participate in a MOOC: lurking, intermediate interaction, and be one of the memorably active participants. Due to the time and work investment linked to the memorably active option, this will only be possible for a small part of the participants, even though many participants might think they will be able to pull it off. To keep those participants that do not manage to keep up with the high level participation motivated, it is important to ensure them that at stage of participation brings along useful insights and additional knowledge. This is best done at the start of the course and repeated during the first few weeks.

4.       Develop a mental filter: you do not need to reply to everyone, skim discussions and choose to reply on what is of interest to you.

5.       Get to the point: be short (max 250 words) and respectful in your discussions/questions/answers. This will save time for everyone.

6.       Use descriptive titles in your discussion threads: this allows people to immediately anticipate where you are going with your message.

7.       Connect with participants working on the same topic: there are too many participants, so select those who work on the same area (health, classrooms, languages…). Get to know one another, that way you can also stay in touch while your mLearning plans develop.

8.       Check your e-mail digest (great tip from Ken!): once you have joined the google-group, make sure you choose how you want to be kept up to date: recommended choices either an abridged e-mail (= you get a summary of the new activities each day) or digest e-mail (you get all the new messages bundled into one single mail per day). You can change these settings after you have joined as well, in the google group section 'edit my membership'.

9.       Dare to ask questions to stay on top of the content: sometimes you might not understand a concept which seems to be clear to all the rest (rest assured, there are always others who are also wondering about the same issues as you). If you feel unsure about a mobile aspect, ask the group or – if you do not feel confident enough: ask one of the facilitators.

10.   Pace yourself to keep motivated. Do not pressure yourself with perfection or the quest for full understanding: take it easy and know that your brain will pick up new knowledge, but it also needs time off for dreaming and being inspired.

11.   Dare to take time off: if you feel stressed and pacing no longer works => take time off. Get relaxed again and then join in. Remember, each week is focusing on a new topic, so you can always come back in for a fresh start.

12.   The most important idea behind self-regulated learning is: Make the course Work for YOU!

Proposing learners to choose their expected participation

As MobiMOOC started the organizer suggested three categories for learner participation to the MobiMOOC participants, hoping to convey the importance of self-regulated learning to the participants. The three types were:

         Lurking participants participated in a variety of ways: just follow the course, look at the recordings, and  browse the available course resources. The benefit to the lurking participant was to get some idea of what is going on in the field of mLearning.

         Moderately active participants took one or two topics and engaged in the conversation with everyone involved. The benefit for the moderately active participants was that they developed more in-depth knowledge in that area of mLearning and were able to exchange notes and expertise, getting answers to questions the participants may have had.

         Memorably active participants participated in at least five of the six topics. They developed an mLearning proposal in their area and received peer and expert help. Although a template for the individual project was provided, it was clearly communicated that the writing of the proposal would be done by each of the participants. Memorably active participants received a certificate of participation.

Participant Testimonials/stories
MobiMOOC was the first MOOC that I participated in not just as a participant, but rather as someone who had some mLearning experience in the past. I had been someone who had followed mobile phone releases and operating systems for a while, getting my first smartphone (SonyEricsson P800) when smartphones were still leading edge (OK, there were some Nokia smartphones out there before the SE P800, but they weren't world phones!)  By that time I had also been creating a bibliography of mLearning books and articles that I wanted to go through, so I was really interested in learning from others, and sharing what I knew. The fact that everything was contained in a discussion board again made it much more easy to keep track of what was going on. I got the daily digest in my inbox, and I was able to keep track of things that way. If I wanted to reply to something, it was easy enough from my inbox; whereas gRSShopper I needed to go onto something separate (either the course page, or the specific blog post). I liked both solutions (google group and gRSShopper equally) though since the most important thing for me was to get things by email. I think the fact that MobiMOOC was 6 weeks kept me a bit more alert as well. Near the end of CCK11 I started dozing off (or at least I felt I did), so the duration of this MOOC seemed just right. An unexpected perk of this MOOC was that I got together with some really talented people to form a research group and conduct research!  -- Apostolos K. 09/21/2011

[1]MobiMOOC course wiki: http://mobimooc.wikispaces.com/