Connection not Content

A Blog for MOOCs and Other Animals

Liberating the xMOOC – a Philosophical Experiment

with 21 comments

Here’s my small plan. I’ve dabbled in one or two cMOOCs and xMOOCs and now I’m about to join another xMOOC – Introduction to Philosophy , a Coursera MOOC by Dave Ward, Duncan Pritchard, Michela Massimi, Suilin Lavelle, Matthew Chrisman, Allan Hazlett and Alasdair Richmond from the University of Edinburgh and starting on 28th January.

I’d like to see xMOOCs become much more learner centred, more open like the cMOOCs where independent interaction between participants is positively encouraged. So I’ll be looking outside the ‘official’ course forums for blogs and comments by participants. I’m blowing the cobwebs off my experimental Comment Scraper and if I can find enough activity I’ll try to bring it all together here in a summarised format as I did before during parts of previous cMOOCs.

If you intend to discuss the content or performance of the Introduction to Philosophy MOOC in a WordPress or Blogger blog and don’t mind being comment scraped please consider helping the experiment by letting me know (by comment below or via email ) your blog URL so that the Scraper can tap into the RSS feeds. Note that the relevant hashtag is #introphil.

Philosophy and Inspiration

Philosophy and Inspiration (University Avenue, Glasgow – photo by liquidindian)

I’ve never studied philosophy before but this particular MOOC, one of the first from a leading UK University, does seem attractive as it’s introductory and “1-2 hours per week” not too demanding in study time. According to the website:

This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each week a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy.

It really is a massive course – about 80,000 people enrolled so far. ‘Meaning of Life’ in the first week – I can’t wait!

Written by Gordon Lockhart

January 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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21 Responses

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  1. …Wk 1, the meaning of life… how tempting. And scraped to boot. OK I’m in but on connectivist ‘do it your way’ plan…

    I registered with Coursera for E-learning and Digital Cultures, (#edmooc), another UK production, also University of Edinburgh, and incorporating an number of c-features outside the platform ~ aggregating blog feeds, wiki, Facebook page, twitter tag /account. Now I’m curious about other UE offerings and whether they too share a bent to connectivity. Both are team taught too, less “cult of personality” than the US university versions (at least in humanities). That is another difference. 

    From the content perspective it may be too much like all the moocs about moocs. Alec Couros’ #etmooc is focusing on ed tech but is still one of that family. There should be enough of them now to put up a monster aggregation page and just say DIY … have at it. However, there are now more and more bewildered newcomers showing up (and not always getting support). OK then ~ offer regular “MOOC Orientation” courses that cover both x and c. Or could that turn into a ‘who speaks for the MOOC?” turf war. Fpr now, maybe just a tag …#how2mooc 

    Vance Steven’s Multiliteracies makes a good introduction even focused on ESL teaching (so still a reasonable fit for humanities)

    I’ve also taken to community blogging about & FB sharing upcoming moocs of possible local interest and professional development for educators (not something school districts can afford)



    January 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    • Thanks Vanessa – and good to know you’ll be around the philosophy MOOC too. They may not know it but many thousands of xMOOC dropouts already seem to have a bit of a connectivist DIY spirit – getting out something valuable for themselves even if it’s not passing tests.

      As far as chaos and confusion in cMOOCs is concerned I’ve always been dubious about it all being helpful for learning as diehard connectivists have argued – I bet cMOOCs could be greatly improved if only a small fraction of the investment available to xMOOCs could be put into infrastrucure, facilitation and admin!

      Well I admire your stamina – I’m still struggling to keep up – even with my MOOC Resource Page at iBerry and now I’m in for more comment scraping! Good thing we’re snowed in here!


      January 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

  2. Hi Gordon, I like this kind of guerrilla into the xMOOC. Now I am in Etmooc, so I doubt if time is available to study philosophy, but I will read your blog on this experiment.

    Jaap Bosman

    January 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    • OK Jaap, thanks – there should be some interest among the 80,000 who have enrolled for philosophy – we’ll see – have a good Etmooc!


      January 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      • any chance of your scraping #etmooc and #edcmooc blogs?


        January 21, 2013 at 2:49 am

    • I may spend more time reading Gordon’s blog than on course work… depends on my endurance and attention span


      January 21, 2013 at 2:44 am

      • lol ! – just been looking at etmooc . Want to keep my powder dry for philosophy but etmooc blogs seem readily identifiable and I need a good test source for the Scraper – I’ll think about it!


        January 21, 2013 at 10:18 am

      • all right here, … not sure how many are generating comments. I hope the new bloggers will be philosophical about that. This week is blogging or about blogging week. The presenter’s blog advised following and commenting ahead of blogging. Got a lot of comments. I thought about commenting but decided better to find a few less visited and comment. The scattershot approach no doubt misses a lot but nets the occasional find.

        Too bad there is not some kind search feature to let participants find people they know, or key words for interests, affiliations. Most social media have something like that.


        January 21, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      • OK Vanessa – I’ve just unleashed the Scraper on 82 ‘Blogger’ Etmooc blogs and it’s retrieved 92 comments from 25 posts over the period 2013-01-12 to 2013-01-22 – a good test ! I’ll put it all up somewhere soon – there’s rather more Etmooc WordPress blogs to cover so I think I’ll draw the line at Etmooc as I need to do some more programming.


        January 22, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      • Neat ~ I look forward to seeing the results. Besides Madness for general purpose mooc/ing blogging, I’m experimenting with an #etmooc dedicated blog on Tumblr, and am thinking about changing name to include #

        I’m coming across more x/c crossovers / mashups


        January 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm

  3. […] Lockhart started a liberation campaign. He wants xMMOCs to grow into student centered and interactive and connected learning […]

  4. Reblogged this on Things I grab, motley collection and commented:
    This made me think of a possibly a post taking a cue for this one where xMOOCs and cMOOCs would be talked about. I already have an idea what I would see fit for each of them.


    January 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

    • Thanks! I’ll be interested to see what you think.


      January 20, 2013 at 1:34 pm

  5. Hi Gordon,
    A lifelong learner has a spoilt for choice with x or cMoocs!
    I’d like xMOOC – Introduction to Philosophy, but now I am in ETMOOC. I will read your blog.


    January 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    • Hi Serenaturri – yes we are spoilt for choice now – with so many MOOCs in the pot I hope that the best ones will rise to the top!


      January 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

  6. […] Here’s my small plan. I’ve dabbled in one or two cMOOCs and xMOOCs and now I’m about to join another xMOOC – Introduction to Philosophy , a Coursera MOOC by Dave Ward, Duncan Pritchard, Michela Mas…  […]

  7. […] Here’s my small plan. I’ve dabbled in one or two cMOOCs and xMOOCs and now I’m about to join another xMOOC – Introduction to Philosophy , a Coursera MOOC by Dave Ward, Duncan Pritchard, Michela Mas…  […]

  8. […] of this xMOOC  in a cMOOC style by blogging outside the ‘official’ course forums. (See Liberating the xMOOC – a Philosophical Experiment. Searching is helped if the tag, introphil appears somewhere in a post.) Anyone unfamiliar with […]

  9. […] I’m one of them?) are – like educational revolutionaries – trying to “liberate” the xMOOC, indeed the very course I’m […]

  10. […] Here’s my small plan. I’ve dabbled in one or two cMOOCs and xMOOCs and now I’m about to join another xMOOC – Introduction to Philosophy , a Coursera MOOC by Dave Ward, Duncan Pritchard, Michela Mas…  […]

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