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An Interview with Dr. Paul Kim, E-Learn 2013 Keynote Speaker, Preconference Symposium on “MOOCs and Open Education
Friday, October 11, 2013
An Interview with Dr. Paul Kim, E-Learn 2013 Keynote Speaker, Preconference Symposium on “MOOCs and Open Education

The E-Learn 2013 conference in Las Vegas is coming up in a little over a week. I am helping run the preconference on MOOCs and Open Education on October 21st. Paul Kim from Stanford is the opening keynote. I had a chance to ask Paul a few questions prior to his keynote. His responses are below.

Abstract: "MOOC” is a fairly recent term. It is also a “Learning For All” movement currently stimulating active debates in the education space around the world. MOOC simply denotes a Massive Open Online Course, but in the larger context, it may be a catalyst to reimagine higher education. Whether MOOCs are part of a global open education initiative or a for-profit education model, today there is certainly growing R&D interest, as well as entrepreneurial attention. There is, however, substantial criticism and typical bystander skepticism, mostly arising from reports describing the quite unexciting completion rates of many MOOCs. Acknowledging the abundant misunderstandings around MOOCs and the vague institutional goals from early-adopter universities, an argument can be made that the current structures of MOOCs today are not sustainable. In this session, The Anatomy of a MOOC, the non-profit and for-profit models will be viewed, compared, and presented through the lens of sustainability.

Topic #1: Some General Questions about Your MOOC:
Curt Bonk: What was the title of your most recent MOOC?  
Paul Kim: "Designing a new learning environment"

Curt: When did you teach it?
Paul: Fall 2012

Curt: How many enrolled?
Paul: Close to 20,000.

Curt: Do you have any sense of how many “completed” it?
Paul: Around 1,000.

Curt: What was the platform?
Paul: Stanford Venture-Lab. (Note: Now NovoEd:

Curt: What was the URL?

Topic #2:  Beyond Wildest Dreams
Curt: What was the most exciting thing that happened during your MOOC?
Paul: Students from 170 countries.

Curt: Something outside your expectations…
Paul: The power of social network channels.

Topic #3: Specific Learner Success Story:
Curt: Do you have an unusual or interesting MOOC success story of a particular person who enrolled in your massive course that you might share?
Paul: Middle school student working with phd students and leading as a team leader. He graduated with distinction which requires a lot of respect from peer evaluation.

Topic #4: Disappointment(s):
Curt: What was the most disappointing aspect of your MOOC?
Paul: Not as open as I hoped.

Curt: What fell short of expectations?
Paul: Institutional support.

Topic #5: Pedagogical Success and Failure:
Curt: Can you briefly describe one unique pedagogical task or idea that you attempted during your MOOC that worked well and one that did not work so well?
Paul: Team project and peer evaluation worked well. Team formation process needs more innovation.

Curt: Do you have advice for others who might try these approaches?
Paul: Don't just move stuff from LMS to mooc platform. You need to really leverage your global classroom environment.

Topic #6: Potential for Research:
Curt: Looking back on your MOOC, what research might be done in this area that you have yet to see?
Paul: Features that help low self-regulators to develop self-regulation strategies.

Curt: What questions are not being asked?
Paul: Why students need to learn how to learn in the 21st century.

Topic #7: Culturally Relevant:
Curt: How did you try to make the content of your MOOC or other open educational resources that you have designed relevant to people from different cultures or backgrounds?
Paul: Discussed cases from Africa, Asia, Latin America, etc.

Curt: What might others do in this regard?
Paul: Involve cases from all continents if possible.

Topic #8: Instructor Metaphor:
Curt: In describing the role of a MOOC instructor, I like to use “C” words like curator, concierge, cultivator, counselor, consultant, orchestra conductor, etc.. Some might say “cat herder” or “credit manager.” How might you describe your role in your MOOC? What metaphor might you use? Instructor as ___? Why so?
Paul: Completely inspired to inspire others.

Topic #9: Learner Completion:
Curt: Critics of MOOCs seem determined that there are huge problems related to learner motivation and retention. What are your views about learner completion rates?
Paul: This needs to be interpreted differently depending on different student needs.

Curt: How should we measure student success and failure?
Paul: We should ask each student what they are doing after a MOOC.

Topic #10: Surprising or Unusual Theme or Issue:
Curt: What is one theme, finding, idea, concern, or issue that you will hit upon during your preconference symposium keynote at e-Learn that may surprise some people? Why?
Paul: Passion is viral in a MOOC.
Learning is awakening, not memorizing.

Topic #11.  Latest Idea:
Curt: What is the newest idea or concept that will enter into your talk at E-Learn that you may not have discussed previously?
Paul: Sustainability is more important than mobility in educational development work.

Curt: What excites you about it?
Paul: I finally got some ideas about it!

Topic #12.  What’s Coming Next:
Curt: Do you have any new ventures, courses, research projects, or ideas related to MOOCs or open education on your radar or that may happen in the near future? If so, what are they?
Paul: Build and implement a new learning environment, leading to creating and expanding a new workforce development ecosystem.

For more information on the symposium:

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About Me

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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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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