This is the blog of Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor at Indiana University and President of CourseShare (there are NO Guest Blogs and NO advertisements permitted).

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Unabridged Interview on MOOC for Chronicle of Higher Education
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Fifth MOOC-Related Post in Five Days (I'm now done...):
The previous four days, I have made a series of blog postings on massive open online courses (MOOCs). I did for Blackboard with their CourseSites people. Let's recap:

Day One (June 13): Jarl Jonas Director of CourseSites by Blackboard reflects on first MOOC
Day Two (June 14): The EvoLLLution from Toronto to a Global MOOC
Day Three (June 15): Reusable MOOC: When massive sync is lasting async
Day Four (June 16): Twenty Thoughts on the Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs
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And now for today...
Day Five (June 17): Unabridged Interview on MOOC for Chronicle of Higher Education

In this final post, I insert the full responses sent to Jeffrey Young from the Chronicle of Higher Education for his post related to my MOOC on Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success that was offered through Blackboard/CourseSites. This is the "unabridged" version or nearly 2,500 words, instead of the 500 or so that were in the Chronicle of HE this last week. I also include a few pictures and information from four of the international MOOC participants that I had not shared with Jeff as well as a few fun snapshots that Chuck Carney from the IU School of Education took of me during the second synchronous session. As you will see, I tried many ways to engage the MOOC audience.

Jeff Young's post on June 11, 2012 was titled, "Building Different MOOC's for Different Pedagogical Needs." He actually interviewed four professors doing such a MOOC. The full article was titles, "4 Professors Discuss Teaching Free Online Courses for Thousands of Students." It was interesting to read the stories of the other three professors. These interviews are among the most read and emailed Chronicle articles during the past week. Nice work Jeff! I always like reading your articles.



Jeff Q#1. Why did you sign up for this?


Curt responds: Simple--I was asked by Blackboard people. One of the key people from Blackboard just happens to be a student in our online master’s program in Instructional Systems Technology (IST) here at Indiana University. She had heard about my expertise in online teaching and learning and asked me to help. A MOOC is a major commitment so I had to reflect on it for a while. I agreed to it for several reasons. First, from what I could gather, Blackboard felt that educators are now extremely hungry for information that can enhance student online learning. I have developed a couple of models for teaching and learning online (i.e., R2D2 (see one MOOC participant use of it) and TEC-VARIETY (see sample participant reflection on it) and give between 80 and 100 talks each year on this topic; hence, it was a solid match. Through the Blackboard MOOC, I can perhaps influence thousands of instructors who potentially teach tens of thousands of students each year. And I can do this without having to leave Bloomington, Indiana. There are thousands of instructors using the free tools and course management system in CourseSites; many of whom have never received trained to teach online. In effect, it is a good cause.

Look at the math. There are nearly 4,000 people enrolled in the MOOC. If just 25 percent of them find one idea or activity that they can embed in their online courses, think of the global impact in terms of online pedagogy and enhanced teaching. From an instructional standpoint, it may be the most important five or six weeks of my life.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking to myself that there are more people in this one class than I have likely taught 23 years of teaching in higher education. Every time I reflect on the MOOC, a series of light switches keep going on and off in my head. If teaching is a calling, than a MOOC may be the ultimate such calling—at least today. In the past, books, conferences, journal publications, magazine articles, interviews, and radio and TV appearances were often viewed as the primary means for academics to get out new ideas. Today, not only must we add blogging and podcasting about one’s research findings or new teaching approaches to the mix of dissemination outlets, we must also consider the impact of teaching or designing a massive open online course.



(Note: I was explaining my Read-Reflect-Display-Do (R2D2) model during the Week 2 synchronous session on May 9, 2012 when the above picture was taken.)

Jeff Q#2. What’s it like so far? Please briefly describe what a typical “day” of online teaching is like...

Curt responds: Oh, my, where to begin? The MOOC we are doing is a professional development (PD) course. Consequently, it is more like a summer workshop experience for college instructors than an introductory course on computer science or engineering that you might hear about from Stanford or MITx. Hence, the course expectations as well as the forms of assessment, interaction, and communication may be different in our MOOC from the others you have heard about. Since I am conducting a synchronous Webinar session each Wednesday in May for a couple of hours, there is much to prepare. Building an interactive 2 hour session for hundreds of people located remotely around Planet Earth is not particularly easy (truth be told, it is now 6 am and I have yet to go to bed tonight as I have been preparing for the final synchronous session of our MOOC later today). And even if you are successful in creating the content, you are still dependent on access speed, file size, ease of technology use, and participant understanding of English.

So “my typical MOOC day” always involves thinking about and fine-tuning ideas for the weekly session. As part of this, during the week, I must upload any relevant PDFs of my PowerPoint slides for those enrolled to review. There are also Web resource links for participants to browse, links to videos to perhaps watch, and articles that need to he uploaded to the system. In addition to resource sharing, I respond to participant introductions (new people arrive every day), blog and wiki posts, and article and video discussions. I also might brainstorm with my assistants and the CourseSites team a set of potentially engaging discussion prompts for the week as well as motivators we might use in the synchronous session. Such activities are all so new and constantly evolving that each day there is a significant new decision to be made.

I am also receiving personal emails from participants asking me to review their pedagogical ideas and evaluate their prior or current online courses (i.e., “look under the hood” as one participant asked me yesterday). I might also read through strategic plans for online learning if they are administrators or government officials. While all this is going on, I am trying to make this a truly global experience, so I am constantly collecting information about participant location, job, future plans, etc. I use a physical globe in the weekly synchronous sessions to indicate where many of the participants are from. In the future, I anticipate that such information will be automatically collected and displayed within the CourseSites system.

I am fortunate in that I have a few people from CourseSites helping me out as well as eight teaching assistants here at IU who have all been through one or more of my courses. In fact, several of the TAs have been my instructional assistants in the past. They have volunteered to help in the MOOC so that they can gain more teaching experience as well as understanding of how a MOOC operates. In addition to helping with participant feedback, members of the MOOC team record themes related to the discussions and blog posts. This is often a massive undertaking, At the same time, a couple of them help me summarize resources mentioned in the weekly Webinars. Still others collect specific participant information when we request it.

We do not have the luxury of the computer-based assessment systems that are mentioned in many other MOOC endeavors such as those at Stanford and MIT, but we have some pretty savvy and helpful instructional technology graduate students here at IU; perhaps the top such program in the world. But you do not need any of that internal assistance (be it human or machine) to create an effective MOOC. There are tens of thousands of people around the world who would be willing to help an instructor or course design team with a MOOC. Moral: do not be jealous of what others appear to have that you do not. The Web offers much in the way of feedback, interactivity, support, and expert guidance that anyone can take advantage of.

Our professional development course requires a different set of instructional skills and technology tools than an introductory college course might require. As with any PD activity, there is a ton of personal consulting, advice, guidelines, and resource sharing. There is no typical day. But I will admit that many more hours are spent planning the weekly synchronous session than anticipated (the clock continues to tick…now at 6:30 am). You really do not want to mess up in front of hundreds of your peers.


Jeff Q#3. What needs to happen for you to consider the course a success?

Curt responds: In terms of course success, we hope to see participant enthusiasm as well as interactivity, dialogue, and responsiveness. We want to see new groups form and make connections and share their respective innovative course plans. Each week, a number of people from our MOOC have shared exciting and insightful ways of using some of the frameworks and activities mentioned in the MOOC. These frameworks related to online learning motivation and retention, learner diversity and learning preferences, and the use of shared online video. Some of their descriptions extend well beyond anything I ever thought of when designing some of these models and frameworks initially. This is quite heartwarming and exhilarating.

In addition to the roughly 4,000 enrolled, to date there have been more than 5,000 discussion board posts, nearly 400 blog posts, and many more posts in the MOOC wiki. Regarding live participation, the first synchronous session had more than 500 participants and the rest have averaged well over 250.

There are extensive conversations and, at times, heated debates in the discussion forums and blogs. There is also much sharing and pooling of resources. The weekly summaries of discussion and Webinar themes are filled with resources. There is likely enough information in “Let’s Discuss” forums and blogs to create at least one book of best practices for online teaching and learning, if not two. There are also some 20 self-formed groups (e.g., Nursing Educators, E-learning Entrepreneurs, Christian Colleges and Seminaries, Mobile Learning, librarians, K-12 Educators, Change Management, All About Adjuncts, etc.). Each of these groups helps to personalize the massive online experience and provide a sense of learning community.

While not everything has run smoothly, and there are some participants who have their personal preferences of how a MOOC should be run, we have observed extensive positive feedback about the MOOC in Facebook, Twitter, participant blog posts, and other forms of social media as well as via email and even face-to-face contact with MOOC participants when we bump into them.

Those who complete the course will get a badge. In addition to badge completion, MOOC participants will complete a short survey related to the MOOC during the coming week. Results will be used in designing future courses like it.



Jeff Q#4. Has anything surprised you about the students who signed up for your course?

Curt responds: Well, I helped Ray Schroeder at the University of Illinois at Springfield with his course last summer. He had 2,700 people sign up from all corners of the earth. So the size of our MOOC is not that surprising. In our MOOC, participants are mainly coming from higher education settings but also from K-12 schools, military bases, government agencies, corporate training centers, and consulting firms.

What perhaps surprises me the most is how quickly the MOOC participants have grasped and adapted some of the ideas presented and embedded them in their own online and blended courses. For some, it was a mere day or two for them to flesh out a dozen or more activities and ideas. In fact, many of their ideas are much more detailed than the examples that I lay out in my own presentations and books. In a word, I find the immediate applications “phenomenal.” Typically, when I teach, there are some practitioners in the course, but many are fulltime graduate students. In the MOOC, I basically have approximately 4,000 practitioners who each have own personal goals and objectives. They have existing or upcoming courses in which to try out the ideas that are presented, discussed, and shared. It is like an evolving and living laboratory for online pedagogy.

The people in the MOOC appreciate the ideas shared and questions posed, whether they are coming from an elementary teacher in Korea (see below), a Captain or Major in the Swedish or Norwegian military (see below), a vice provost from a high ranking university in Texas, a high school teacher from rural southwestern Kentucky, an instructional designer from Sydney, Australia, a director of teaching and learning center in Dubai, or a college professor from Guadalajara, Mexico. They are all on equal footing here. There is no sense that anyone has greater credentials, more power, or better ideas. The MOOC flattens power, control, and responsibility. And that flatness combined with much openness is truly welcomed by all.

(Note: the pictures and text about them are additional supplements for my blog post which I did not send in for the Chronicle of HE interview. As shown below, South Korea is at the high end of the learning technology spectrum.)


(Note: Picture above of is Dr. Meeyong Kim, from Saeil Elementary School in Daejeon, South Korea. Meeyong was supposed to be a visiting scholar working with me this year. But could not get a visa. So the MOOC became a way for her to take one of my classes while still being in Korea. A map of her location is below).


(And when I visited Korea last September, Meeyong and her family took me to the DMZ. What an interesting place! See below.)




Curt (continues response to Jeff's question): I am also amazed that during the weekly synchronous sessions some people have stayed up past midnight in the UAE and Saudi Arabia or have woken up at 4 or 5 am in Korea, Singapore, or China to participate. It was relatively easy for people in North and South America to attend on Wednesday afternoons each week, but much of the rest of the world has had pretty rotten times. Nevertheless, many highly engaged individuals from outside of North America still came and contributed enormously to our synchronous activities and events. And many others sent us notes that they enjoyed watching the recorded programs days or weeks after the original aired.



(Note: Picture above is of MOOC participant, Mark Curcher of Dubai Men's College in the UAE. In this picture, Mark is looking over the Dubai skyline from the Burge Dubai. Mark tuned in at midnight each week. Below he is accessing some gold bullion from the world's highest ATM.)


(Note: I got to see Mark's offices at Dubai Men's College (DMC) a little over 3 years ago. Celow Mark points to his picture at the entrance of DMC.)






Curt continues: So I guess it is the willingness to flexibility get involved and learn from the course content that is the most surprising. Time, location, status, etc. are no longer barriers to learning that they once were.



(Note: Picture above is of MOOC participant (on right with hat), Major Thomas Lyck, Head Teacher of War Studies from the Swedish Armed Forces School of Logistics in Skoevde, Sweden. Major Tom participated in the MOOC late at night, though the sun did not set until midnight. He even participated while at a conference sponsored by the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) lab in Oslo, Norway. The conference took place in at Pers Resort in Gol, Norway (see point A below), where I met Tom the previous year. On the left is Commander Geir Isaksen, Head of R&D/XO at the Norwegian Defense ADL Office in Olso (see purple dot below). Geir brought me to the conference the previosu year. Both are wonderful people.)





(Above is Major Tom with two of my books which he apparently was using in the design of his courses. Below is a map of his location in Sweden.)


(Below is a picture of me with one of the MOOC participants, Leonardo Tosi, from Florence, Italy. This screenshot is from an interview that he conducted with me about my World is Open book outside of the MOOC using Adobe Connect (the same system we use here at IU). It was for his summer class of Italian teachers who were reading parts of my book. Leonardo had translated the beginning (prequel in Italian; English option) and ending (postscript in Italian; English option) of the book into Italian for them as well as the foreword in Italian (English option) for the new Chinese edition of the book.)


(Note: Leonardo is a project manager in the ICT and education area of the INDIRE Institute in Florence. INDIRE is a consortium of many different universities in Italy, including the University of Milan, the University of Florence, the University of Macerata, LUMSA University of Rome, the University of Palermo, the University of Catania, and University Leonardo da Vinci. Sounds like an interesting and rewarding place to work. It was great meeting people around the world each week in the MOOC. However, I should point out that most of the participants came from North America; I am just including the above 4 people from other countries in this particular blog post.)




Jeff Q#5. Do you have any concerns going into the course -- about format, implications for universities, or any other aspect of this unusual venture?

Curt responds: My chief concern is that there have been MOOCs in the past and some people seem to treat them as a type of religious experience both in terms of the content covered and the ways in which information is displayed, communicated, and reused. However, each MOOC is different. I think we need additional research on how to structure a MOOC, the types and forms of incentives to embed in such a course, the forms of learning assistance or scaffolding that are now possible, the range of resources that can bolster a MOOC-like experience, and so on. But a successful MOOC for an introductory or intermediate college course is much different in content and delivery format than what might prove effective in a PD MOOC (see previous blog post from yesterday).

I should point out that our MOOC will remain open at the CourseSites Website long after my commitment ends. People can still learn from the recorded content and earn a badge and perhaps some self-confidence (see blog post from two days ago). This openness will be a sign that they do not have to rush through the content. Future participants might come to realize that some of their pedagogical ideas might need a minor tweaking before finding rich success. They might also find innovative ways to troubleshoot through their weaknesses and begin experimenting with a technology tool that might not have even existed when the MOOC was first delivered. In addition, newcomers might have make new connections to peers who have completed the course and received their badge(s) days, weeks, or perhaps even months or years earlier. Not only might they contact their course peers from a different cohort, those who enroll later can directly contact the course designers or myself at any time. They might simply watch the archived weekly performances. I have been told that our synchronous sessions were at the high end of information, interactivity, and engagement, and yet were highly spontaneous and unpredictable. I tried to make them rich in content and yet fun. I hope that they find much reuse, replay, and remixing.
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That was the end of the interview. The above unabridged transcript is about 5 times the length of what ended up in the excellent Chronicle article, so I am sharing the complete transcript here in my TravelinEdMan blog. As noted, in this blog post I also include some additional information and pictures from 4 of the international participants. But that is only 4 of the 4,000 who enrolled in the course. I also shared with Jeff some of the unsolicited MOOC participant feedback; if interested in what the participants had to say, click and scroll down to May and June 2012 to read. I let him know that had obtained permission to share and wished him well.

So I have some to the end of my 5 blog posts in 5 days on my MOOC. That was not easy as I typically only post to TravelinEdMan once or twice a month. Now I have to get back to writing my online motivation and retention book using my TEC-VARIETY framework. I got half done last summer and have not touched it since last August. If interested in the topic, write to me for sample chapters. I am happy to get your feedback. I hope to give the book away as a free PDF document in a few months.

Those prefering to read more about the MOOC are in luck since I made some previous MOOC-related postings in April and May. See below.

April 19th: A Close Up Look at an Upcoming May MOOC
April 29th: Video Intro for Upcoming MOOC and IU Press on the Event
May 1st: Open-access articles on the "Digital Campus" about open access
May 7th: There's a whole lot of MOOC'en going on! (or: "The Multimedia MOOC")

May the force be with you if you read them!

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Twenty Thoughts on the Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Fourth Post in Four Days (one more to go):
For the past three days, I have posted information here in TravelinEdMan about the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that I did for Blackboard with their CourseSites people. Let's recap:

Day One (June 13): Posted interview with Jarl Jonas, Director of CourseSites from Blackboard about the MOOC.
Day Two (June 14): Posted links to a series of MOOC-related interviews with Amrit Ahluwalia from The EvoLLLution.
Day Three (June 15): Posted links to all the archived resources from the 5 weekly sync events in the MOOC.
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Today's and Tomorrow's Posts:
Day Four (June 16): Posted 20 ideas (with help from Jay Cross) on the different types and potential purposes of MOOCs.
Day Five (June 17): Posted unabridged transcript of a Chronicle of Higher Ed interview on the MOOC.
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Ok, this is the Day Four post. And tomorrow with be the final post. That fifth post will include my full interview responses to Jeffrey Young from Chronicle of Higher Education that he asked me about the MOOC. You may have read the shortened version of that interview as well as his interviews with 3 other professors who have done a MOOC lately (Four Professors Discuss Teaching Free Online Courses for Thousands of Students).

Anyway, on to Day Four. This story begins when I was on a chartered plane with some IU information technology people back on Monday June 4th. One of them, Brad Wheeler, the IU CIO and Vice President for Information Technology (VPIT), asked me about the MOOC that I had helped run and the types of MOOCs that might emerge in the coming years as financially viable and/or educationally worthwhile. Brad was aware there that are many questions being raised about the business plans of companies and other entities offering or promoting MOOCs today like edX, MITx, Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, etc. On the way home, we discussed several recent trends and announcements. That discussion got me thinking.

Starting the List...
When I got home from that short half-day trip, I jotted down some ideas in response to his question. I came up with 12 types of MOOCs that are possible or that might be employed in the coming years. When done, I sent them off to my friend Jay Cross over in Berkeley for review and went off running. During that run, I came up with four more MOOC-related ideas, all of which started with an "R" word. And so my list stood at 16 types, targets, or intents of MOOCs. As per usual, fantabulous Jay wrote me back a few hours later. He had found my list and questions to him "interesting" and suggested four additional ideas which brought my list up to 20. But Jay had an important caveat--he suggested that my list might be difficult to differentiate from large-crowd online experiences. As a result, it might not fit with initial MOOC criteria or intentions. Perhaps he was right. So I kept thinking.

This listing activity reminds me of an article I wrote back in July 2009 for eLearn Magazine on 20 reasons why people share online content. My friend, Dr. Lisa Neal Gualtieri, had requested it after she heard that my "World Is Open" book was about to come out. That article quickly evolved into 30 reasons (10 reasons institutions shared; 10 reasons instructors shared; and 10 reasons why students would want to use that free and open content). The article was titled: "The World is Open for a Reason: Make that 30 Reasons!" (PDF of document). Many of the 30 ideas in that article were credited to or inspired by David Wiley now at BYU. And many other items in that list of 30 were mentioned in my book, The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

So perhaps the following list of 20 ideas may become 30 as well in a week or two. Perhaps in just a day or two. Or perhaps I am done. Keep in mind that this is simply a little brainstormed list. There is nothing really scientific in it at this point. There is a listing in Wikipedia which you might find to be much better. Also remember Jay Cross' caution that this list may overlap significantly with ideas related to large-crowd online experiences that have nothing to do with education or with the purpose and function of MOOCs (at least, as originally constructed). If it does overlap, I am sure that there will be extensive criticism of my 20 item list. Please be aware that some of the ones mentioned below lean more toward the higher education world and other ones lean heavily toward the corporate sector. Some simply address adult and informal learner needs in general.

Apologies if the list below does not jive with the existing literature on MOOCs, steps on anyone's toes, or is offensive to anyone from any of these camps; especially those who offered some of the initial MOOCs and laid out the principles or criteria related to them. Such individuals have thought much longer and harder about this topic than I have. They are the brilliant, creative, and risk taking people in this space, not me. I am just responding to the question posed by my university CIO and VPIT and playing with ideas here as that is what one does in a blog. Thoughts? Here are 20 of mine (with significant input, as noted, from Jay Cross on four of them).

Twenty Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs:

1.  Alternative Admissions Systems or Hiring System MOOC: A MOOC (or series of MOOCs) is offered and high scoring or impressive MOOC participants get admissions privileges, job interviews, or points if they later apply for a particular degree program, certificate, internship, or job.

2.  Just-in-Time Skills and Competencies MOOC: Like Coursera and Udacity, the course is given to the online masses and paid by a subscription or a membership fee or by advertisements. As a former CPA and corporate controller, I see this as a fairly sound business plan for now; however, more specific details are needed. It is clear that tens of thousands of people are more than willing to sign up for a massive course as a means to sharpen their skills. The revenues could be quite astronomical. Let's hope the learning is too.

3. Theory- or Trend-Driven MOOC: Course discussion or activities focus on an emerging theory, trend(s), hot topic(s), or idea(s) and the MOOC is the ideal platform to showcase such a theory, idea, or trend. Take, for example, the current Change MOOC or connectivist-related ideas and courses from George Siemens and Stephen Downes.

4. Professional Development (PD) (practical) MOOC: People come and select the content that they wish to explore as a means to foster personal retooling, extension, and reflection. In a PD MOOC, there is limited (or no) testing or assessment of some minor little skills; instead, there is extensive sharing of what one has done in the past, what one is presently engaging in, and what one hopes to do next given this course experience. Examples here include the Blackboard/CourseSites MOOC that I just facilitated on "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success" or the MOOC that Ray Schroeder from the University of Illinois at Springfield orchestrated last summer that was called "Online Learning Today...and Tomorrow."

5. Loss Leader (dip toe in water) MOOC: Give away one course in every department or program as a means to attract new students to that major, program, or department. This type of MOOC may become the most pervasive type during the coming 2-3 years and then it could die a quick death. For those in the corporate world, see #13 below which stands to last much longer, but is similar to this idea.

6. Bait and Switch MOOC: Create a fantastic name for the MOOC or description of it and perhaps have celebrities involved in teaching it, but use it as a means to sell a product or to turn the audience on to something else. See also #9 below.

7. Experimental MOOC: Here, the instructor, program, or organization might use a MOOC to test out new concepts, findings, or ideas. In effect, the MOOC is a test-bed for one’s research and ideas. These could be pedagogical test-beds (i.e., testing out different learning technologies and activities) or highly scientific ones or both.

8.  Degree or Program Qualifier or System Bottleneck MOOC: If there are early or introductory college courses that students tend to drop or fail, perhaps let high school students take the course prior to college in a MOOC-like format with other high school students from around the country or the planet. New connections could be formed among students heading to college. If there is a common bottleneck or course filter that weeds out too many students, a MOOC might be offered during the summer to let current students complete it in a self-paced fashion.

9. Personality MOOC: MOOC experience is offered with the main goal of meeting some celebrity or expert. Though masked in a specific topic like personal passion or leadership, any content actually learned is an add-on bonus.

10. Name Branding MOOC: MOOC is offered to help push out one’s brand name. This idea overlaps with #5 of the loss leader MOOC, #6 (if celebrities are used), and #9, and perhaps every other idea listed here. This one may smell familiar to many people.

11. Goodwill MOOC: MOOC is offered as part of a mission to help educate the people of this planet. In effect, instead of "giving the world a Coke," educational opportunities are offered. Many non-profit entities and foundations have significant Web presence today and offer myriad online resources (e.g., Seeds of Empowerment, iEARN, Impossible2Possible, etc.). A Goodwill MOOC might extend that. In a way, this is what many people initially envisioned when the OpenCourseWare (OCW) movement arrived over a decade ago with announcements from MIT, Yale, and others.

12.  Interdisciplinary MOOC: MOOC has a series of panelists or guest experts from around the world (or from different departments at the same university or company) presenting content from disparate yet somehow related disciplines. Creativity and innovation will be targeted in such a MOOC. Participants enrolled in them might envision new degree programs or college majors, start-up businesses or new ventures, life goals and opportunities, personal quests, etc.

As indicated earlier, Jay Cross added the next four insightful MOOC ideas.

13. Recruiting MOOC: Covers a skill in demand, say, advanced Python programming. Companies in need, pay for names/contact information of high performers. Set up specifically for recruiting, not recruiting as by-product. This is similar to idea #1 mentioned above.

14. Marketing MOOC: Jay noted that he had just talked with a company that helps middle managers improve their practice by providing content which becomes the catalyst for discussions among small groups of managers. To buy the idea, people in the company have to believe in self-directed learning. A MOOC on management development and/or informal learning would attract potential customers. I must add to Jay's point by saying that there will likely be myriad other types of marketing MOOCs that unfold in the coming years; this is just one example.

15. Conference MOOC: Jay also suggested that as an adjunct to a professional conference, one might document the back channel, share the content, facilitate discussion, and so forth. A MOOC could help stretch out the conference from a short-term event to a lasting process.

16. Learning Room MOOC: A friend of Jay's makes and markets virtual conversation software; sort of an easy-to-use, Second Life type of tool for business types. One thing that his customers love is having a persistent space online with posters on the wall, presentations at the ready, and the opportunity to just drop by. A MOOC could fill the same role. Different topics could be cycled through. Events here could include discussions of TED talks, debates of current events, or courses on social media marketing.

Thanks Jay! Brilliant stuff as always. Life is good when you have a friend like Jay. As I indicated, after sending Jay an email with my original list of 12, I went jogging and four more ideas popped into my head. So I added them to my list of types, targets, and intents of MOOCs and now I am at 20 such thoughts. Here they are...notice that they all start with the letter "R" and yet I fail to use the big R word--Relevancy. Humm...

17. Religious Revival MOOC: Some MOOCs will undoubtedly meet with extreme success. When they do, learning communities will form, and, with that, new friendships, social networks, and personal as well as professonal relationships. There will be extensive amounts of socially shared history and stories of personal as well as group success resulting from such experiences. And like eating yummy Godiva dark chocolates, people will crave more such experiences. They will look forward to the next time it is offered or something akin to it is announced. It will be a revival of sorts...a MOOC sought after with religious fervor. Remember the online course that Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle offered to some 2 million people a few years ago with spiritual and religious undertones? Now think 5 or 10 times that and even that might be too conservative an estimate for the highly successful MOOCs.

18. Rotating MOOC: Some MOOCs might rotate topics between a set of introductory topics within a program, department, or discipline. Alternatively, the rotation might be between institutions or oganizations that offer them. For instance, one year, the core expertise might be at the University of Iowa and then next year it might come from the University of Central Florida, and so on, depending on where the strong programs are housed. Or it might rotate between experts in North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia-New Zealand. Those in corporate settings might see the MOOC leadership or organizers rotate between different branch offices or headquarters.

19. Repeatable MOOC:  As with rotating MOOCs, repeatable MOOCs might be of at least two types. For instance, the MOOC might be repeatedly offered and prior participants might be allowed to take it again and again and receive a badge or some other type of signature recognition since the content is constantly changing. Another type of repeatable MOOC is one that is offered every so often (perhaps each month or every other month) with basically the same set of content, structure, and goals. Once such a course is created, it is highly cost effective; especially if technology/machine-based assessment is employed, instead of human assessment. See idea #2 above for companies offering repeatable MOOCs already.

20. Reusable MOOC: As I noted in my blog post yesterday, the course that I just completed for Blackboard/CourseSites people is a type of reusble MOOC. All of the content has been preserved, including all of the weekly synchronous sessions that we held. While we had some 3,500 people initially, enrollment has now climbed to over 4,000 people as the registration stayed free and open during the course and will remain so long after. Anyone can reuse or repurpose that content. In effect, the MOOC remains open for future students (i.e., you) to go in and learn and perhaps earn a badge or whatever. Good luck.

After completing the above list, I went running in the 91 degree heat we have today in Bloomingotn, Indiana. Fortunately or unfortunately, I did not think of any new ideas when running. So that is it for my starter list for now. These are twenty quick thoughts on the types, targets, and intents of MOOCs. I fully realize that I did not discuss the theory or principles underlying effective MOOCs. As I indicated above, many others write much more eloquently, forcefully, fervently, insightfully, and thoughtfully about all of that theory stuff than I do (ya, my graduate degrees are in educational psychology, but I sorta was forced to leave that field 6-7 years ago and so "my mind is a zero" as the song says). If you want to know the principles, philosophies, or criteria of MOOCs, read their work. Or perhaps read Dan Butin's thought provoking piece in eLearn Magazine this month on what he thinks MIT should have done.

This particular blog post is more on the practical or implementation side than the theoretical side. The audience, therefore, is perhaps more geared to practitioners and administrators than theoreticians and experts in the emerging field of MOOCism. Again, I am just trying to answer the questions raised by my CIO/VPIT as we flew home two weeks ago.

There is much still to discuss. Questions are being raised not only about the business plans of MOOCs, but also about who is taking these courses (i.e., demographics), the language surrounding MOOCs (i.e., terminology), the forms of assessment or credentialing (i.e., making it count), and so on. I think that understanding the various types, targets, and intents of MOOCs might help a bit in addressing those vital questions. Hence, I offer my list of 20 thoughts. Your lists will likely differ from mine. Best wishes.

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Note: Earlier blog posts that I made on the "BonkOpen" MOOC and MOOCs in general are below.

April 19th: A Close Up Look at an Upcoming May MOOC
April 29th: Video Intro for Upcoming MOOC and IU Press on the Event
May 1st: Open-access articles on the "Digital Campus" about open access
May 7th: There's a whole lot of MOOC'en going on! (or: "The Multimedia MOOC")

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Reusable MOOC: When massive sync is lasting async
Friday, June 15, 2012
Introductory Note:
This is my third MOOC-related post in 3 days. There will be two more. All are indexed below.

Prior Posts:
Day One (June 13): Jarl Jonas Director of CourseSites by Blackboard reflects on first MOOC
Day Two (June 14): The EvoLLLution from Toronto to a Global MOOC
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And now for today...tomorrow...and the next day...
Day Three (June 15): Reusable MOOC: When massive sync is lasting async
Day Four (June 16): Twenty Thoughts on the Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs
Day Five (June 17): Unabridged Interview on MOOC for Chronicle of Higher Education

Five Forms of Openness to Learn from My MOOC
Naturally, when you teach a massive open online course (MOOC), there is an emphasis on openness. In fact, I have tried to document and put on display this openness in the prequel to my World is Open book titled, "Sharing...the Journey." Hence, I better be as open as can be about the MOOC resources or the critics will come out yet again.

First of all, the MOOC that I did last month with CourseSites by Blackboard remains open. Register and explore this course or other ones from the CourseSites open course series. I am fully aware that, for various reasons, some people might be hesitant to register for it and explore the materials. So...

I move on the second form of openness (i.e., this blog). In this blog post, I list the links to resources for all five synchronous sessions that we held each Wednesday in May 2012 (the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th). If you scroll down to these links, you can click and get a color PDF of any of my presentations and polling questions. Use whatever you like. The world is open to you. But please be a good pirate. You can also watch the archive of each session in Blackboard Collaborate (formerly Elluminate). These archives include the video stream from my camera, the audio file, and text of my PowerPoint slides or Web resources displayed. If you want to quickly find a particular segment of a synchronous session, you might watch the YouTube file that was created each week from the Collaborate stream archive. In the YouTube file, you will get the audio file as well as my PowerPoint slides but not the video stream from my camera. While the course has officially ended, you can still self-pace yourself through the contents and earn a badge. You can also share these contents with any of your friends and colleagues, and even your parents and grandparents.

Third, if you want the original PowerPoint slides or any articles or videos of mine that we used each week, just write to me at cjbonk at indiana dot edu. I am happy to reply.

Fourth, if you are shy or do not want to write to me, you can go to my PublicationShare.com Website for many of my articles; at least those that are free and open access. At PublicationShare, you will find technical reports, book chapters, journal articles, and magazine and newsletter pieces. Access, read, download, or share them. Up to you. And many of the Web resources from the synchronous sessions are posted at TrainingShare (see Archived Talks and Resources). You have to believe in the power of sharing!

Fifth, in Week 4, we used the 27 video primers that I had created 1-2 years ago for IU faculty member to help them teach online. The School of Education at IU decided to make them free to the world. The full name for these shared online videos is "Video Primers in an Online Repository of e-Teaching and Learning" or V-PORTAL. I realize that the videos in the V-PORTAL are not high production grade quality (the budget was basically a course release), but they are just primers and they are free. And with Tandberg picture-in-picture capability, there is a multimedia component in each one. Use them if you wish. Ignore them if you wish. If you use them, we took a liberal Creative Commons license on them. As a result, you can watch them, download them, share them, remix them, snip them, post them, translate them (see Arabic version that my friends at King Khalid University (KKU) did last year, for instance), etc.

Clip them or snip them? But how you might ask? Well, Tubechop is a tool that one of the MOOC participants, Stephen Bright from the University of Waikato in New Zealand (lovely place Waikato), told me about that I think is out of this world. You can select any part of a YouTube video and chop it up. This way, you are not wasting 5 minutes of class time showing a 6 minute video when only 40 seconds of it applies to your particular class. How cool is that? It is simple to use, fast, and highly useful. Put TubeChop on my top 10 list of technology tools that I will use in 2012.

By the way, Stephen Bright has done a Scoop.It with many more such tools and resources related to the use of online video in education, including Vialogues and Grocket Answers which foster commenting, discussion, and interaction around the use of shared online videos, instead of just passive viewing. And, of course, in his Scoop.It, he included highly popular links to resources like the TED-Ed, the Khan Academy, and talks from Salman Khan on reforming education. He also included more novel educational video portals that I like to show such as History for Music Lovers from my very inspirational and fun friend Amy Burvall. Do check that one out if you have not seen it; especially, if you love music from the 1960s to today. And Stephen linked to something I had not heard of called Grovo, which is called a "field guide to the Internet." It supposedly has thousands of videos on different Internet products. I have checked a few out and found them upbeat, informative, and crisp.

You might notice that Stephen also mentions the V-PORTAL in his Scoop.it. Each video in the V-PORTAL is about 9 or 10 minutes long. You can find videos on the use of wikis, podcasts, blogging, and shared online video, as well as videos on how to give feedback in online course, create communities, assess student learning, handle plagiarism, and how to manage and online course. Still others are on blended learning, archiving and ending a course, the future, and so on. Where are they, you ask? Well, you can find these videos in my YouTube channel (TravelinEdMan) as well as from the Instructional Consulting office in the School of Education at Indiana University (the latter come with extra resources but might play a tad slower).

So that is five ways that I am trying to share aspects of the massive course. A recap is below. You can...

Recapping Five Ways to Learn from the Blackboard/CourseSites ("Bonk Open") MOOC:
1. Register for the course and find all the free resources;
2. Use the links from the MOOC synchronous sessions provided here in this blog post (see below);
3. Write to me for original documents or files;
4. Check out the open access documents and resources that we used in the MOOC that are posted in PublicationShare.com and TrainingShare.com;
5. Check out the free and remixable videos in the V-PORTAL.

You can even write to students who were in the course and ask them for their takeaways and resources. In addition, CourseSites people are planning to send out a document in the next day or so recapping all the online discussions and blog forum postings, resources shared, controversial issues raised, questions asked, answers given, etc. You must register for the course to receive that document, however. The world opens wider and wider each day for learning. These are the forms of openness in this particular MOOC. Other MOOCs will have their forms of openness and different openness providers. Tomorrow I plan to blog on 20 different types of MOOCs and forms of openness.

The Participants
Of course, with over 4,000 participants enrolled, I am bound to meet some new friends (as well as some critics). I hope that my new friends find use for some of the links mentioned above and below. These new friends of mine are from from Dallas, Florence (Italy), the Ukraine, Boston, Escanaba (Michigan), Sydney, Liverpool, Louisville, Washington DC, London (Ontario), Paris, South Berwick (Maine), Fitchburg (Mass), Albany (GA), Homer (Alaska), Brussels, Cape Town, Dubai, Edinburgh, Alamosa (Colorado), Mobile (Alabama). etc. Great people. Wow what a fantastic experience for me to be able interact each week synchronously as well as asynchronously with K-12 teachers like Meeyong Kim from Korea (who was supposed to be my post-doc this year but could not get her Visa approved at the last minute), military trainers (like my friend Major Tom from Sweden), American composers and authors (like Paul Beaudoin from Fitchburg State University), and Web entrepreneurs (like Christine Malina-Maxwell from the University of Texas at Dallas who founded the McKinley Internet Yellow Pages back in the mid 1990s and now helps run a start-up company focused on big data analysis and security called Chiliad). What a mix of people!

So many interesting, highly engaged, inquisitive, and appreciable individuals. As the course ended, many sent notes of thanks about the free experience. Some sent me songs, artwork, funny quotes, and other things. One of them, Michelle Tillander, from the University of Florida Art Education Department, sent me the picture below.



Blackboard/CourseSites Massive Open Online Course (MOOC):
Topic: Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success
MOOC Info (from my Blog); Intro video (12:24); Registration; CourseSites Course Info

Synchronous Session for Week 1 of MOOC (May 2, 2012):
Part 1: The TEC-VARIETY online motivation and retention model.
Curt Bonk Week 1 Presentation and Q&A online from Bloomington, IN.
Available: Blackboard Collaborate/Elluminate recording; YouTube (1 hour 6 minutes); Color PDF of Slides.

Synchronous Session for Week 2 of MOOC (May 9, 2012):
Part I1: Where Are You R2D2?: Addressing Diverse Learner Needs with the Read, Reflect, Display, and Do Model.
Curt Bonk Week 2 Presentation and Q&A online from Bloomington, IN.
Available: Blackboard Collaborate recording; YouTube (1 hour 55 minutes); Color PDF of Slides.

Synchronous Session for Week 3 of MOOC (May 16, 2012):
Part III: 50+ (actually 75) Hyper-Engaging Ideas: Critical, Creative, Cooperative.
Curt Bonk Week 3 Presentation and Q&A online from Bloomington, IN.
Available: Blackboard Collaborate Recording; YouTube (1 hour 48 minutes); Color PDF of Slides.

Synchronous Session for Week 4 of MOOC (May 23, 2012):
Part IV: The Rise of Shared Online Video, the Fall of Traditional learning.
Curt Bonk Week 4 Presentation and Q&A online from Bloomington, IN.
Available: Blackboard Collaborate recording; YouTube (1 hour 44 minutes); Color PDF of Slides.

Synchronous Session for Week 5 of MOOC (May 30, 2012):
Part V: Participants, Questions & Answers, Demonstrations, and Reflections.
Curt Bonk Week 5 Presentation and Q&A online from Bloomington, IN.
Available: Blackboard Collaborate recording; YouTube (1 hour 55 minutes); Color PDF of Slides

In Week 1, I offered dozens of ideas for motivation and retention online using my TEC-VARIETY framework. I am working on a book related to it at the present time that I hope to give away as a free PDF document with 100+ activities. I also intend to offer the TEC-VARIETY book cheaply in hardcopy format through Amazon CreateSpace in a few months. I may test out chapters as mobile apps as well. Anyone wanting sample chapters should send me an email request. Happy to share. I got half the book done and would love to get your feedback.

In the second week, I went through a few dozen more activities and ideas related to my R2D2 (Read, Reflect, Display, and Do) model. I already have a 100 activities book completed on that model that I wrote with Dr. Ke Zhang from Wayne State University. It was published by Jossey Bass back in 2008. Yes, I do like Star Wars. As the picture below indicates, I also have a full functioning light saber. But it is more the mnemonic and simplicity of the model that is important. Those wanting to read more about it can see the eCampus news piece that I wrote back in December 2009. There was much positive reaction and immediate implementation of both the R2D2 model and the TEC-VARIETY model. Some of the ideas and activities shared by the participants were amazing and well beyond my expectations. Hence, by Week 2, we already had much success from the MOOC appearing.



In the third week, I went through some ideas and activities for fostering critical and creative thinking online as well as teamwork and collaboration. I have been teaching a class on alternative instructional strategies (R546) for more than 20 years now. It has a Website called the Bobweb that has evolved since back in the Stone Age (i.e., 1996 ) and is still in need of much work. Still, you can find much information about creativity and creativity testing in the Bobweb and much, much more. Given my 20+ years of experimentation in that class and related writing, there was much to share in Week 3.

In the fourth week, the ideas strictly related to the use of shared online video as a means to enhance learning, reflection on key course concepts, and interactivity. See earlier paragraphs for shared online video tools and resources that you might use.

The final week was for student question and answers from the students of the course. Near the start of the session, my Dean, Gerardo Gonzalez made an appearance. He had just returned from a trip to Cuba which was his first visit there in some 50 years. Dean Gonzalez seemed thrilled to have been able to return to the place in which he was born. The class loved his stories. Also in Week 5, we shared pictures, ideas, and map locations of the participants. My doctoral student, Donggil Song, came in and sang a couple of songs, one in Korean and one in English. In effect, we did more of the social side of the course in the final week, instead of in Week 1, though, of course, there were introductions online in CourseSites in that first week. Week 5 ended with an explanation of what CourseSites had to offer from Jarl Jonas, the CourseSites Director.

So, I hope all this has been helpful. As I stated earlier, this is an example of where synchronous sessions can find later use as asynchronous resources. Given the wealth of resources saved, archived, and made freely available, this becomes a reusable or repeatable MOOC. Perhaps some people (i.e., you) will take advantage of that. It was not easy to teach this course but it definitely was fun. Having all the synchronous sessions archived provides a semi-permanent record of what took place each week. We also had a discussion forum, blogs, wikis, and other components to the course.

A picture of me and my props in Studio 101 in the School of Education at IU from Week 2 is below. Stop by and visit me someday and I will give you the grand tour of Studio 101 and beyond. Bloomington, Indiana is a lovely place.

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The EvoLLLution from Toronto to a Global MOOC
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Introduction...This is my second MOOC-Related Post in Five Days:


Day One (June 13): Jarl Jonas Director of CourseSites by Blackboard reflects on first MOOC

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And now for today...
Day Two (June 14): The EvoLLLution from Toronto to a Global MOOC

Note: Later in the week, I will post these...
Day Three (June 15): Reusable MOOC: When massive sync is lasting async
Day Four (June 16): Twenty Thoughts on the Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs
Day Five (June 17): Unabridged Interview on MOOC for Chronicle of Higher Education


The Evolution of The EvoLLLution...
Whew, I just completed the fourth of a series of four interviews on my Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Thinking back six months ago, I had not envisioned teaching 4,000 people in a MOOC. Sure, I had helped with the eduMOOC that my friend Ray Schroeder from the University of Illinois at Springfield had offered last summer with 2,700 people (see my blog interview of Ray at the time) and we discussed teaming up for a follow-up. But back then my brain was highly focused on NSF grantwriting and Christmas and birthday gifts that I might receive, not on some monster class to masses of participants around the planet. I already had a 54 page monster syllabus on emerging learning technologies. But that was for a dozen or so students, not thousands.

This story begins on December 15, 2011. It was on that day that I got an email about something else from a guy that I did not know who was from someplace on the planet but I was not really certain where, to be honest. It was all a mystery. His name was Amrit Ahluwalia. Perhaps he was from the Middle East, I thought to myself. Maybe he knew my friends in Dubai or Riyadh and they recommended that he contact me. Perhaps he was from right here in Indiana or wanted to come to IU for graduate school. International student applications were coming due. Or perhaps he was from???

And what did he want? No, he was not writing to wish me happy birthday remarks one day early. Nor was he congratulating me for getting all my fall course grading completed. And he did not send a Christmas jingle in his email or offer me a vacation cruise package deal either. Instead, Amrit wanted me to contribute a short excerpt from my World is Open book for a newly announced online publication called "The EvoLLLution." More writing? More work? Ug. Fortunately, all he asked for was something short and simple. I informed him, however, that it was supposed to be my winter break and I already was knee-deep in NSF Cyberlearning grant proposal writing; in fact, one grant had gone in the day before and the other one my team was just starting to work on. It was due in mid January. As a result, I said "maybe."

Like me, you might be asking yourself, who is this guy, Amrit Ahluwalia? And why would he want me to work harder than I already was during my holiday break. Well, Amrit Ahluwalia, it turns out, is the managing editor of The EvoLLLution. He and his team are based out of an office a few hundred miles north and east of me up in Toronto where, until global warming kicked into gear, winter lasted perhaps 6-8 months of the year. Hence, he probably did not really know that there was something called winter break.

What is this EvoLLLution?
You might also want to know more about The EvoLLLution. What is that all about? Well, the Website indicates that it is a grassroots community of higher education stakeholders that is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). Amrit's initial email informed me that it was an "online newspaper, written exclusively by higher education stakeholders. Its contributors come together to form the only community, devoted exclusively exploring and improving non-traditional education." That sounded interesting to me. My mind and body are all about nontraditional learning of any kind (and, as many people are aware, my research is now devoted to informal and extreme learning). To further entice me, Amrit sent link to a video explaining more about the the role that "The EvoLLLution" would play in society in the coming years. Very cool video. I was hooked. This online newspaper would be situated in the fastest growing and perhaps least addressed area of education--the adult learner.

From what he has told me since that time, it is clear that The EvoLLLution is a unique organization whose time has come. It is an inclusive community comprised of thinkers such as university and college administrators, educators or all stripes, and, most importantly, nontraditional and lifelong learning students. Unlike many organizations in the field of education, it purposefully reaches out to employers, government officials, and other industry stakeholders, who are also adapting to the immense paradigm shift in higher education taking place today. In effect, Amrit and his colleagues have assembled a community of thought leaders who can raise awareness about nontraditional and lifelong learning. From what I can tell, the people at The EvoLLLution truly hope that the constant flow of ideas available through their online newspaper can inspire transformative changes in higher education that are needed today and in the decades to come. And with their input, they also hope that there will be broad scale societal recognition of the immense value of continuing and adult higher education. I hope so too.

So what did he want from e I wondered? According to Amrit, The EvoLLLution publishes "articles and interviews written by individuals who are on the ground looking at how higher education has changed and discussing ways to adapt the industry to today's realities." He also noted that they seek articles that discuss the business and management of modern-day higher education; an area of vast changes today. Additionaly, many of their articles explore tactical methods and strategies that can help alter or shift higher education in ways that personalize education according to the needs of today's students, and, as he put it, "the ever-changing and ever-advancing workforce." He then reminded me to watch the short video (1:50 minute). He also said that more details on The EvoLLLution could be found in the "About Us" section of their Website, including links to subscribe or contribute to it.

When I further inquired into his role, Amrit said the he was involved in establishing "relationships with our vast array of contributors from across the higher education and continuing education fields and assist them in generating content based on their ideas and opinions to be published on our online newspaper." Ok, I was fine with that. In fact, I was more than fine with it. But back to work on NSF grant proposal #2 I went. And my mind drifted off into thoughts about wikis, crowdsourced content, and learning environments that could be automically generated by computer code. Amrit and The EvoLLLution soon faded from my memory banks.

The Return of The EvoLLLution
A few weeks later, however, another email arrived from him. In it, Amrit kindly asked again for a short piece based on my World is Open book. I was still hard at work on my  2nd NSF grant proposal. And so he waited patiently for still another week or two. Soon, another email arrived with positive words of encouragement and hopes and dreams that I would contribute something in the coming weeks ("Extreme Learning Hopes and Dreams" was, in fact, the title of my first NSF grant).

And so, after finishing and submitting my 2nd NSF grant proposal of the month (This one titled SWALE or "Scholar Wiki Automated Learning Environments"), I sat in my hot tub and hoped that my fingers, back, neck, and brain could mend themselves quickly and that I could type up something up for him that would be worth reading. Luckily, it did not take too long for most of my body to heal (though my shoulders and back remain a problem for my chiropractor). Ten days later, I sent him a piece, "We All Learn," which appeared in digital form on February 16th. Amrit thanked me for it and we parted ways...or so I thought.

For a couple of months, I read articles appearing in The EvoLLLution but was thankful that he did not want me to produce anything else since the Spring 2012 semester was a difficult one filled with travel and committee work. But my new friend Amrit was not gone for long. In April, I received another email from him. This time he had heard about the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that I was doing for CourseSites by Blackboard on Instructional Strategies and Technology Tools for Online Success. I think he had read my blog post on this and got excited about covering a unique and evolving story. He said that wanted to interview me as we were about to start the MOOC as well as during the course and after it ended. Ultimately, there would be four MOOC interviews.

The EvoLLLution MOOC Interviews
The course ran from the end of April to early June with 5 synchronous sessions in Collaborate (i.e., formerly Elluminuate) each Wednesday afternoon in May from 4-6 pm EST. The first interview I did alone with Amrit via my home landline near the end of April. My first synchronous session with 500+ people occcured a few days later on May 2nd. The second interview was 2-3 weeks later with help from five of the eight volunteer teaching assistants (TAs) that I had quickly assembled when enrollment was nearly double our expectations of roughly 2,000 participants to well over 3,500 signing up by the start of the course. That particular interview took place from my Indiana University office in the School of Education. It was deemed a "half-time report." As such, it focused on the problems and challenges that we faced or had resolved. The third interview Amrit conducted with Jarl Jonas, Director, and Sarah Bishop-Root, Marketing and Communications Manager, from CourseSites by Blackboard. They discussed the types of learners that had showed up in the MOOC as well as the expectations that Blackboard/CourseSites people had when planning it. And the final interview was conducted a week ago and appeared in The EvoLLLution yesterday. It was concerned with assessment and the credentialing side of a MOOC as well as the potential of MOOCs and their "evolution" in the future. Jarl, Sarah, and I all participated in that one. It was the longest of the four that we did and perhaps the best.

All four sessions lasted around 15-25 minutes. They are listed below. I hope you can learn something from one or more of them. To help your learning, each was audiotaped. It is important to point out that the audio files are always longer than the article. If you read the article as well as listen to the interview, you will see that Amrit did a marvelous job of condensing the sometimes rambling and resource-filled phone discussions into each article.

What's Your MOOC Pleasure--Text or Audio?
1. Massive Open Online Courses: Taking Learning to a New Level. Interview of Curt Bonk by Amrit Ahluwalia, April 30, 2012, The Evolllution. (Article; Audio).

2. The MOOC Halftime Report. Interview of Curt Bonk and MOOC TAs by Amrit Ahluwalia, May 22, 2012. The Evolllution. (Article, Audio).

3. MOOCs Making Waves with Nontraditional Students. Interview of Jarl Jonas and Sarah Bishop Root by Amrit Ahluwalia, June 7, 2012, The Evolllution. (Article, Audio).

4. The Potential for MOOCS. Interview of Jarl Jonas, Sarah Bishop Root, and Curt Bonk by Amrit Ahluwalia, The Evolllution. June 13, 2012. (Article, Audio).

If anyone wants a PDF document of these articles, send me an email. There is much to reflect on and discuss from all four of these interviews. Each person reading or listening to them will have different goals and associated takeaways. In the end, I must thank my friend Amrit Ahluwalia and The EvoLLLution for their interest in the MOOC we did last month on Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success. These were fun discussions and reflections.

Note that the Course Registration, Information, and Introductory Video all remain open. We have over 4,000 people enrolled now. The world is truly open for learning. Enjoy it. Live it. Share it. Be it.

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Jarl Jonas Director of CourseSites by Blackboard reflects on first MOOC
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Introduction...The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that I did with Blackboard people using CourseSites officially ended a week or 2 ago. It now has over 4,000 participants. Registration will remain open. So, now it is time to do some reflections on it in my blog (TravelinEdMan) as well as on MOOCs in general. Mixed in is an interview of Jarl Jonas, the Director of CourseSites, as well as the full (i.e., unabridged) version of the interview that Jeffrey Young of the Chronicle of Higher Education did with me that appeared back on June 11th (briefer Chronicle version). Those interviews start and end this sequence of blog postings.

Below is MOOC blog Post #1. The first of 5 such posts:
Day One (June 13): Jarl Jonas Director of CourseSites by Blackboard reflects on first MOOC
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And here are the posts that I made later in the week...
Day Two (June 14): The EvoLLLution from Toronto to a Global MOOC
Day Three (June 15): Reusable MOOC: When massive sync is lasting async
Day Four (June 16): Twenty Thoughts on the Types, Targets, and Intents of MOOCs
Day Five (June 17): Unabridged Interview on MOOC for Chronicle of Higher Education
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"Reflections on Blackboard, CourseSites, and the MOOC"

An Interview with Jarl Jonas Director for CourseSites by Blackboard, by Curtis J. Bonk, Professor, Indiana University, USA

This past weekend, I had an email conversation Jarl Jonas about the Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) I helped with last month, “Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success.” While I say "helped," as noted in a post in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, I was the instructor of record. But that is really all anyone can do in a MOOC. You help or assist in the learning process. I had much assistance from others. Jarl was among those providing the help. For that, I am quite thankful.

The course, which I have discussed in many previous posts, has now attracted over 4,000 participants; as of today, there are 4,010 people enrolled in it and it keeps growing despite the fact that the synchronous sessions ended two weeks ago and my role is winding down. People can still go in and register and then learn from the content and forums and so on. As noted below, those that do can earn a badge. If interested in the course or in a badge, Jarl Jonas, or his assistant, Sarah Bishop Root, can help.

Who is Jarl Jonas you ask? Well, Jarl is Director for CourseSites by Blackboard, a free, hosted online course creation and facilitation service for individual instructors. Jarl is also an adjust faculty member for Excelsior College teaching Business Communications and am a former Secondary Language Arts teacher. Perhaps more importantly, he is an educator and life-long learner excited about the use of technology to enhance student engagement and achievement.

Amazing, he responded to my questions from 30,000 feet on my way to Austin (by way of Dallas). Below are my questions and his responses. You can also find his reflections on the MOOC in a blog post he made last month.


Curt Q1: What is CourseSites? How long has it existed? Why was it created? In what ways is its mission different from the more profit-oriented side of Blackboard? And how is it part of the mission?

Jarl: CourseSites is a free, hosted online course creation and facilitation service that empowers individual K–12 teachers, college and university instructors and community educators to add a Web–based component to their courses, or even host an entire course on the Internet. The service is powered by Blackboard’s latest learning management, mobile, SMS, and synchronous communication technology and is intended to help teachers establish what we like to call ‘one learning landscape.’ Many instructors are sending students to multiple sites to obtain information, interact, and complete assignments, which can cause confusion, frustration, and disengagement. With CourseSites, we provide most, if not all tools necessary to support all aspects of instruction.

CourseSites has existed since 1999, but it’s taken on a few different forms. In February of 2011, we launched the current free version to support Blackboard’s mission of “Everyone Educated.” By providing CourseSites, we remove a common barrier of access to technology and offer educators and their students a space to experiment with and/or use technology to enhance the teaching and learning process. To ensure the experience is successful and that the technology does not hinder learning, we include training and support for instructors and students. As well, with this updated, no cost service, we hope to establish a community of e-Learning practitioners who can help one another and discuss best practices, ideas, and challenges of teaching in this realm. This community includes Blackboard, and as such, CourseSites serves as a wonderful vehicle for students and instructors to voice their positive and constructive opinions about the software and experience that we can feed back to the Blackboard Product Development team with the intent of continuous improvement.



Curt Q2: Personally, I see CourseSites as sort of a goodwill arm or effort of Blackboard. If I am correct, can you describe other such goodwill efforts underway within Blackboard? For instance, I heard that there were some mobile learning initiatives for third world or developing countries in which Blackboard is involved. In fact, my son, Alex Bonk, has gone on two trips with Paul Kim from Seeds of Empowerment to help with literacy training in remote southern Tanzania and with indigenous youth in northern Argentina. He also did the documentaries and photography (see Facebook). In both cases, representatives from Blackboard also were part of the team. Did you know about this? Is Blackboard reaching out with CourseSites and other ways that people might not be aware of?

Jarl: One of the things I like most about working at Blackboard is the caliber of my colleagues and the ideas they have to help advance education around the world.  As you describe, the Seeds of Empowerment project has had a profound impact on many individuals at different levels and is a working example of the passion that Blackboard has for improving the quality of life for all. You can read a bit more about some of the results here.

CourseSites is a wonderful resource in itself, but for my colleagues and I, that is not enough. Last Fall, we worked closely with Creative Commons to provide instructors with a way to publish their course as an Open Educational Resource (OER.) to their instructor homepage. Course packages become available in Common Cartridge and Blackboard format and get tagged with a CC-BY license for all to consume, remix, and reuse. Then, this Spring, we announced our open enrollment feature, along with our CourseSites Open Course Series: Empowering Learning Through Community. The open enrollment features enable instructors to offer open courses of any kind to any number of students. To lead by example, we launched the open course series with your first course on Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success. Thank you for helping to launch the series and make such an impact!

Aside from these initiatives, Blackboard supports volunteerism and community service. We often participate in local service days to help give back to the communities in which we work and are provided 8 hours to volunteer with a charity of our choice.



Curt Q3: What are the most interesting and rewarding aspects of your job?

Jarl: My biggest passion in life is helping others to reach their full potential. The next is a thirst for knowledge. I can fulfill these passions in many ways, but being a part of CourseSites enables me to fulfill these on a much larger scale, all while broadening my perspective. I get to interact daily with individuals from around the world and hear how about their challenges and successes. I am able to give them a voice in our development to help them overcome certain obstacles and increase their student achievement.

As you know, the realm of instructional systems technology is ever-changing. This is both exciting and frustrating for all of us. I am a constant student in this job which helps keep me on my toes! I like to see what’s happening ‘out there’ and see what I can do to bring that to our users through functionality, or perhaps through educational programs. I work with equally passionate individuals and we have a lot of fun. I look forward to providing more and more opportunities for learning, experimentation, and advancement with CourseSites users and beyond for years to come!



Curt Q4: Why did Blackboard/CourseSites decide to offer this course? What interested you in doing this project?

Jarl: As former high school teacher, faculty development coordinator, online course developer, and Blackboard consultant, and as a current online instructor at Excelsior College, I’ve personally struggled and have seen many other educators wrestle with how to engage students — with or without technology. An enormous tool chest now awaits educators and designers to help motivate students to learn and achieve, but many are still overwhelmed and have little access to professional development resources, or someone who can help them make some sense of the theories and tools. Knowing that this need exists, among many, my colleagues and I began to think how we could leverage CourseSites to not only provide free and open access to some of these tools, but to educate teachers and instructors on how to use these and many others effectively – at no cost. Undoubtedly, there is a host of information that instructors can access on their own, but our experience also tells us that some professionals like a ‘structured’ learning experience. This is evidenced by the response and participation levels we saw.


Curt Q5: Was there anything else?

Jarl: We also wanted to try and see how an open course might work in an environment like CourseSites, as a place to start the conversation. We didn’t aim to mimic the MOOCs provided to date, but wanted to create an open opportunity for individuals to learn how they want (i.e., readings vs. live class), interact with whom they want, and choose the tools with which they were most comfortable (i.e., blogs/wikis/discussions.) We also created some opportunities for networking and were very pleased to see the number of groups and discussions established. Many have continued to interact even after the course has ended which could give rise to an ongoing community of practice.


Curt Q6: How supportive have Blackboard (the for profit company) been of this free online course and new venture? Do you have any examples of support that you can share? What benefits does a MOOC like this reap for Blackboard and CourseSites? Did anyone high up the food chain at Blackboard express any doubts or concerns about such a course or initiative? Are people up the food chain even aware of it? Stated another way, what has been the response internally at Blackboard HQ in DC?

Jarl: Blackboard and its’ executives are very supportive of CourseSites and the open course series. As I mentioned earlier, these initiatives help us to fulfill our mission of Everyone Educated, and provide fun, innovative opportunities to learn more individually and as a company. Many were very excited about the course launch and followed its progress closely including our CEO, Michael Chasen and President of Academic Platforms and CTO, Ray Henderson. Since joining Blackboard, Ray has been vocal proponent of advancing Blackboard openness initiatives and recognized our open enrollment capability and open course as further opportunities to accomplish that.


Curt Q7: What’s it like so far? Has it met your expectations and vision?  

Jarl: The course has now ‘officially’ ended, but is still open for anyone to enroll or return to access, review, and download learning resources. Looking back, I would say the course well exceeded our expectations. We had nearly 4,000 participants signed up. Over half of these participated in the discussion boards, blogs, and/or wikis contributing to the 6,000+ interactions with these tools. In our live sessions, we had over 500 in the first session, and then over 300 on average in subsequent sessions. For this time of year, at least in the US with terms ending and holidays beginning, I was very pleased with the turn-out and engagement. Additionally, individuals have formed over 20 groups on their own to network and connect about the course material within certain subjects or contexts and thus have formed their own community of practice. We were really hoping for this type of organic experience. I recently looked at our survey results for the course and over 90% agreed that they would take a course with us again. We will work hard to improve that percentage next time, but feel that is a good indicator of our success, along with the response that we’ve been getting such as:

“I'd like to express my gratitude to Mr. Bonk and everyone who paid lots of time and efforts to make it work. It was a great chance to learn from each other and grow professionally. I had an opportunity to participate in different MOOCs, but this one was the best I ever experienced to join. The platform and scheduling as well as the manner of running the Course was unbelievably great and well prepared. I enjoyed all the webinars run by Dr Bonk, though the time didn't fit me, as it was always after midnight. Anyway, the opportunity to watch the recording makes it even better.”
Nina Lyulkun, Associate Professor, Business Foreign Languages Department,
Khmelnitsky National University, Khmelnitsky, Ukraine (May 31, 2012)


Curt Q8: You and Sarah Bishop-Root have helped me out a lot in this course. Can you describe a typical “day” of online teaching in this MOOC-like experience? What do you tend to do?

Jarl: Initially, Sarah and I built the asynchronous environment we used to support the learning experience. The live sessions were meant to be the centerpiece, and we designed the CourseSites environment to provide alternative and supplemental resources, suggested reflective activities, and networking opportunities. Once the course began, Sarah and I split duty and had the assistance of our intern Nina Uqdah and your TAs. Sarah helped to monitor the course Twitter feed and I helped to monitor questions inside the course about the use of the platform, course structure, the badge, etc. As needed, we reached out to you for content-specific questions, and collected questions for the live session’s Q&A portion. Once we added the TAs, they assisted you with responding to participants regarding the content and questions that they may have had regarding application.

While we attempted to design each week in advance prior to launch, we were updating each week with further resources, such as adding the live session recordings and discussion/blog/wiki/chat summaries. As well, early on we ran a few tests with you to ensure that the live sessions would run smoothly and worked with our Blackboard Collaborate group to make adjustments as necessary. This surely became our main focus for six weeks, but we planned that accordingly amidst other ongoing job obligations at Blackboard. Sarah and I were also trying to be students in the course as well. Admittedly, we learned on many levels, but I need to go back to review the live session and resources to focus on the content as we were mainly focused on the experience for participants first and foremost.


Curt Q9: Did you ever imagine in school teaching days ever imagine a world or a course such as this?

Jarl: Instead of describing again, you might read or listen to the interview that Sarah Bishop Root and I did a couple of weeks ago with Amrit Ahluwalia that appeared in the Evolllution. MOOCs Making Waves with Nontraditional Students, June 2012 (longer audio file).

You might also read the one that came out earlier today that you and Sarah joined in on. The Potential for MOOCS, by Amrit Ahluwalia, The Evolllution. June 13, 2012 (longer audio file). (Note: This was the fourth and perhaps final interview that Amrit did on our MOOC.)



Curt Q10: What were your goals coming into this? Did you have any success factors in mind?

Jarl: Our main goal was to connect educators with information and other professionals that could help them increase student motivation, engagement, and achievement. We expected about 2,000 to enroll and participate and received double that. Along the way we expected and facilitated ways for participants to interact with one another so they could continue the dialogue well beyond the course environment and timeline. The aforementioned numbers are a good indicator of the initial interest, and the continued participation has been better than expected. All this has been happening at a crucial time during the typical US-based term (finals, graduation) and we’ve still seen good numbers.


Curt Q11: How is learning evident or indicated in the MOOC? What about connections?

Jarl: Participant learning has been evident by the conversations we’ve seen in the discussions and blogs, along with the resources and ideas shared in the wikis. Connections, on the other hand, are evident by the self-formed groups, along with the dialogue outside of the course in individual blogs and other social media. Some of the blog posts have been phenomenal in terms of how they have applied the examples and models presented.

There are many other signs of success. For instance, we have received much positive feedback from participants. This feedback is found in many forms of social media, including Facebook and Twitter posts, email, and much more. One of the most recent notes that caught our attention was from Professor June Klees from Bay College in Escanaba, Michigan. She said:

“I’ve greatly enjoyed participating in this class as part of my continuing professional development in online teaching! It's been the exact type of refresher that I've been craving, with the added bonus that it has very much validated my work as an online educator. I think what I will use the most is the videos as anchors and review, which will be incorporated more in my online, on-campus, and blended (to be created) classes. I highly recommend that all online educators, seasoned or newbie, join in the learning fun!”

And about halfway through the course, Lana Hiasat, Instructor at Dubai Men’s College in the UAE sent you a note that matched our hopes for the course:

“I am really enjoying your Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). It is so well structured and I’m getting so many ideas out of it to implement next semester. I will be trying wikibooks in the next few weeks.”

And after the course, she sent this update:
"I would like to thank you again for a very positive experience. After we finished the course I went on to plan my next year’s course design to include many of the tools that I have learned from your course. I think the main success of your course was that you managed to keep me--a quite busy teacher--motivated to do the weekly readings and listen to your presentations. It is very difficult to keep online learners engaged and interested in keeping up with the workload and you did that. Thanks again!”


Curt Q12: Has anything surprised you about the “students” who signed up for and participated in the course e.g., location, title, educational sector, etc.)?

Jarl: We knew that a wide variety of participants would sign up in terms of levels of experience with online learning, but I’m not sure we expected the varying levels of professionals (IDs, teachers, VP, Provosts). This shows us there is still much ground to cover at every level to ensure we are providing the best educational experiences for students at all levels and ages.

Also, we are tallying the exact number of countries represented now, but had some great response from around the world! Participants mainly came from the US, but we had many students from the Ukraine, UAE, France, South Africa, Belgium, Ecuador, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, the UK, and Saudi Arabia.


Curt Q13: Do you have any concerns going into the course -- about format, implications for universities, or any other aspect of this unusual venture?

Jarl: Despite all of the hoopla about MOOCs recently, I think we are far away from moving beyond our current higher education structure. That’s not to say what we have is optimal, but open education has many open questions and areas for exploration and maturity. Opportunities such as this open course help to augment over-burdened faculty development staff and provide some context and structure to the volume of research being published about learning in this paradigm.


Curt Q14: What are the motivators from this course? What is working in that regard?

Jarl: Badges are in their infancy, but quickly becoming somewhat of an accepted achievement indicator. As such, we decided to offer a Bonk Open Course badge to help encourage enrollees to participate in the suggested reflective activities and interact beyond the live sessions. As well, we are providing a way for users to store their achievement in the Mozilla Open Badge Backpack. Mozilla is leading the way regarding badge standardization and display. Otherwise, the participants can display this badge proudly on their blog or personal site as way of letting others know they met the stated requirements of the course and have acquired new skills to motivate and engage students in online and hybrid courses.


Curt Q15: So, time for a final question...what might you do next and when in terms of another MOOC-like experience from you guys? What might we be looking for from CourseSites and Blackboard in the not-too-distance future?

Jarl: Well, as I mentioned, your course was the first in the open course series so you can expect more learning experiences to be provided this year. During the live session in the past course we polled participants on some areas of interest. Universal Design and Accessibility were topics of interest. We are exploring how to address that need, along with other open education topics. We’d also love to have you offer another course after you’ve had some well deserved rest!

In the immediate future, we’ve partnered with the National Repository for Online Courses and are offering a webinar on their design framework this week. Anyone interested can learn more and register here.

Announcing Webinar: Designing Effective Resources for Online Learning
Date: June 14th
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Session Presenter: Ruth Rominger, Director of Learning Design - National Repository of Online Courses (NROC)


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Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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