Monday, June 23, 2014

C('est un) MOOC.

I fear that I will never complete the  Massive Open On&Offline Course that I have been working on for the past 26 years.

For those interested in the ins and outs of acronyms, let's just say that it is a....(or peut-être je devrais dire 'c'est un) "C-MOOC", where the community is the curriculum.

It is not just any old "C-MOOC", it is a "rhizomatic learning" course.

Learners, join the course and then are able to build their own programs in interaction with the other participants. The "rhizome" metaphor was developed by fairly recent participants to our course who have become fondly known by their surname intials: D&G.

Such was the attractiveness of their image that a distant lurker by the name of Cormier Dave adopted it to depict his idea of the learning process. Cross-fertilization towards distant groups is a clear sign of the influence of our community.

Learning "rhizomatically" means that there is no one starting point, there is no end point and that we are always in the middle of the learning process.  One might say that "rhizomatic learning" is a metaphor for the tangled paths that constitute the mess that is life-long learning.

Unfortunately for some learners, who desire more structured courses there are no clearly defined outcomes or carefully selected reading lists.Tasks are dependent on the roles that you take on in the community.

For learners who are unfamiliar with this program, they may find the initial contact with the other participants a little off-putting. They will have to become accustomed to the quaint accent, the specific expressions, and the rather irritating habit that the other participants have of spending hours in restaurants discussing 'cuisine' or existentialism.

Lurkers are welcome particularly during summer months when they will be able to enjoy the delightful entertainment, and the curious culinary specialities.

The massiveness of the course means that no one teacher could ever master all the content available to learners. We are, after all, in a space of abundance of connections, and content.

This space is largely offline for those fortunate enough to live close to the majority of the participants but many activities are available online too.  You will probably find some of the modules a little esoteric, but there really are people who have a keen interest in folk-medicine, or in sixteenth century playwrights.

Badges can be awarded if you match certain criteria and make an application for your competences to be scrutinised. 

Unfortunately for some ambitious learners, there appears that there will be no more 'unknown learner' monuments built for the time being. This badging format has been used sparingly for the past few years.  The best you can hope for  at present would be the popular "legion d'honneur" badge which is now even used to mark the success of learners who have participated in other competing CMOOCs.  Competences celebrated by this badge are diverse and you can even be awarded a posthumous badge in special circumstances.

Mentoring and integration
There is a big effort made to make sure that you integrate the course. Mentors are on hand to help you but they are sometimes difficult to identify at first.  Sadly, over recent weeks, rapid influxes of learners are sometimes discouraged as the platform which has been chosen can a bit flaky and threatens to crash at times of heavy traffic. There may be also be a question over the competence of the site administrators.

Despite all the efforts made,  there are frequent failures to complete the course.  Indeed, it has to be admitted that nobody has ever, or will ever complete this C-MOOC. While this may be considered unfortunate by some, there appears no short-term remedy to the problem. Perhaps with the rapid advances in genetics, some progress will be made to lengthen learners' participation. Fortunately the perennity of the course seems assured at present with the massive numbers of people involved.

Actually, I have been considering taking on a new course recently as I am attracted to snappy dressing and the delicious ice-cream tasting advertised as part of another curriculum but my involvement, indeed, my attachment to the #FRENCH course has meant that I shall perhaps never be as involved in any other course. I have tried to adapt my British "phlegme" to this sad reality.

I shall close with a little expression of resignation that I learnt early on in the course that I am currently studying:

"Ainsi va la vie!"

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