Topic 4 was again a walk down memory lane.
It took me 12 years back on time when my former boss decided that, because of my training as a group facilitator and session moderator, or perhaps because of my well-known chutzpah to venture into uncharted territories, I might be able to design an online course on sustainable consumption for a very important client.
Needless to say, when I agreed with him that I was up to the task, I jumped at the chance to learn more about MOOCs and how to make one happen.
A couple of days later, my boss asked me about the course’s proposal and was surprised to learn that it was not ready. When he asked to see what I produced, he was pretty shocked by the 10-something slides explaining what MOOCs were about, the importance of choosing the right LMS, and many other issues that he considered irrelevant, both for him and for the client. It took me quite some time to explain to him why the proposed course syllabus came only at the very end and was still under construction.
The client who hired us requested a course that could be delivered through their organizational intranet, and after talking with the person to learn more about their needs, platform, etc., it became pretty clear that the person was speaking out of a mandate from the higher management but was clueless as of what exactly organizing a MOOC entailed.
For starters, their intranet only displayed pages of information with hyperlinks to more pages. Hence, to name one of the main shortcomings, it did not allow for any of the few features they had requested. In general, what was meant to be a project of 2 months for planning, testing, and handover to their HR team, turned into a project of nearly seven months in which I learned by doing together with people from the IT and HR departments of the client.
After this baptism of fire, I became the good-to-go person for all of my former organization’s MOOC endeavors, yet, I focused mainly on content generation as most of the partners approached us with their LMS platforms. After a while, the MOOC creation process was simply tailoring the courses we had already developed. The last MOOC I created was in 2017 because, somehow, their allure seemed to fade. At that point, there were already so many options available, with institutions providing certification from well-known universities (some for free, some started to charge a fee) that, after doing a thorough benchmarking assessment of business models for MOOCs, it became evident it was no longer a star product (according to the BCG Matrix).
Yes, I openly confess that my last years of developing MOOCs lacked the drive, the challenge component that got me into trying to develop the first one.
The last two weeks brought that spark back. Moreover, it gave me a different perspective on their learning potential. Saturated or not, it’s a market open that keeps giving and for which there is still more to discover.
Dr. Kay’s presentation was so spot on that many of the questions I pondered about as this course progressed were answered in a way that sometimes felt like we were having a conversation.
Needless to say, our PBL project felt like that first conversation with the IT and HR when our initial meetings were about questions and more questions, and the final product was a MOOC that even the board members took and endorsed before its wider release.
When our “client” expressed that the discussion and output helped her to get many of her ideas in order, a little voice in my head whispered “go, go, tell her you can help develop the real deal.” It was hard to hush it, really hard… until I opened my calendar and saw the deadline for my thesis submission.
Oh well, other chances will come… I hope.