Connection not Content

A Blog for MOOCs and Other Animals

March of the MOOCs (serious interview)

with 15 comments


MOOC Cow @MooCow

Hi G! Let me on your blog!
0 secs ago via Twitter for cPad

Gordon @Gordon_L 
@MOOCow Sure come right on! – good to see you again!

Gordon: So what have you been up to MOOCow? Can’t talk for long – doing serious coding in Python.

MOOCow: Hi G, I’ve been privately interviewing people about MOOCs – I need your frank and honest opinions.

G: Well OK, I’ll be frank as long as it really is private.

MC: Trust me G – cross two hearts and hope to die! I’ve done interviewing active MOOC participants and now I want your thoughts as a Veteran Lurker.

G: Woah MOOCow! – we don’t use the ‘L’ word now – I’m a Sampler!

MC: Oh yeah? Downloading videos from every xMOOC going and never looking at them? Following cMOOCs as if they were soap operas and now you can’t stop playing with your Python!

G: That’s not very nice! Downloading new stuff always takes longer than learning the old. As for soap operas, cMOOC discussions can make for good rollicking stories – heroes, antiheroes and the odd cliff-hanger! I’m a serial monotasker. I’d rather do something than talk or blog about it and while Python programming may be too geeky for you I’m proud of my new Comment Collector and pleased to describe it to you in great…….

MC: That won’t be necessary G. Let’s have your current thoughts about MOOCs instead.

G: Well OK then – I enjoyed Rhizomatic Learning (rhizo14) though I never really understood the theory. Reminded me of when I was in CCK11 (NOT as a Sampler) – couldn’t get my head round Connectivism either but great fun all the same. When you’re in a theoretical MOOC – Connectivism, Rhizomatics, Marxism, whatever – just go along with the crowd then, quick as a flash, change your spots before the next one!

MC: Nonsense! You never understand anything properly because you’re too lazy to read stuff and then you’re too scared to ask for help! Get over it or stay stupid – good learners make their own learning. You humans are like sheep – one of you (usually male) says “BAAA!” and you all go “BAAAAAAA!” and follow him, 3 bags full, until someone else comes along with another theory. Use your meager intelligence to learn what’s actually useful for YOU – and then MOOC on!

G: Hey! – that’s unfair. Look at the Connected Courses MOOC (ccourses) – not much theory there and plenty educators actually trying things out with real students. All the same, I just wonder how much was learned. I tell you, they were drawing cartoons, posting photos, doing these Zeega things – even writing poetry!!

MC: But even you tweeted a ‘where you sit’ photo for ccourses and not so very long ago you even munged a silly poem about cats into a silly poem about MOOCs!

G: OK! OK! – I got over-excited and carried away. Sure, some of the ccourses Zeegas were really good, learning about new tools and so on but there was off-topic stuff, personal revelations and what’s more….

MC: Off-topic, my hoof! – I thought you’d got it into your head at last that a cMOOC isn’t a trad course at all – it really IS Something Else. Education really is life – the more excitement that can be pushed online the better chance you humans have of learning something – anything! Play games, post silly drawings, sing and shout, write poetry, confess your sins – doesn’t matter what you do as long as you make waves and connect and that’s how MOOCs progress – the march of the MOOCs! Great waste of time though. We cows have a saying, ‘The best way to cross a field is to cross it!’ – we don’t get over-excited before we ruminate.

March of the MOOCs


‘The best way to cross a field is to cross it!’
MOOCows based on ‘la vaca de los sinvaca’ – by José Bogado); ‘Grass field…’ by David HawgoodCreative Commons Licence

G: Eh? That’s all very well but some of us don’t like games and of course you can never be too open. I keep photos of myself off the public web – might get hounded by lonely women if my image gets stolen and used by scam dating websites.

MC: Um .. little danger for you there G. Look, in some very important ways the web is NOT like real life. Let me elucidate in 4 easy Lessons all you need to know about the web.

Lesson 1 – The Very Wide Web

There’s room enough on the web for all you humans to do whatever YOU want, setting your own targets and boundaries. It’s far easier on the web to avoid being drawn into something you don’t want than it is in real life – eg futile face-to-face arguments. And you don’t HAVE to work yourself into a frenzy reading those appalling comments on YouTube – one click and you’re off somewhere else. Unlike real life there’s always somewhere else to go or any number of ways to make your own space.

G: I think that….

Lesson 2 – The Eternal Web

Assume everything you do is recorded and stached away in a cloud for ever by somebody somewhere – it probably is! Don’t do anything you don’t want your friends / employers / kids / grandkids / great grandkids / great great … (you get the idea) to know about. Nothing is forgotten. The web is for ever.

G: What about the…

Lesson 3 – The Educable Web

Too many people have NOT learned Lessons 1 and 2. You’re not born with a domain of your own or a Rheingold Crap Detector inside you – so see to it! The web’s becoming much more complicated, mixing and mashing with real life. Heard of the ‘web of things’? It’s not just about fancy wristwatches or talking to your fridge. Educate your kids about the web – and your ignorant old goats too!

G: The people I’ve come across in cMOOCs anyway are certainly not ignorant – some are very able and they do know their way around the web. Many of them have higher degrees, some have written books and write with great authority on different topics. I’ll have you know that contrary to what you say I’m almost certain that…

MC: You humans love to make up your minds about stuff or, better still, have it made up for you – jumping to conclusions faster than a cow on a cactus! What’s that? – oh sorry G, I was on my cPad. Of course they’re not ignorant but they’re just a tiny elite – future leaders perhaps, who knows? I only hope they know enough to get off their hindquarters and do useful stuff in the real world. Leadership IS important and some MOOC participants are great communicators but they’re not necessarily good at anything else. Rheingold, Cormier (and his boss) and a few others are probably harmless enough and maybe worth following if that’s your thing but as for that Levine….

G: Alan Levine? You’ve got the wrong end of the stick there MOOCow – he’s done so much to…

MC: He’s a COW HATER and should be prosecuted! “… COWS, THEY LOOK SILLY. AND FART A LOT.” – it’s all down here on his stupid dogcog blog!! He’s barking mad!! I’ve never been so insulted since I thought Siemens called me a Nonsensemaking Artifact.

G: You’re barking up the wrong tree MOOCow – look what Alan said when I talked to him about you on Twitter:

Alan Levine @cogdog
@Gordon_L She’s in my slidedeck today! A true beauty.
8:31pm · 30 Sep 2014 · TweetDeck

MC: Oh!! Well – that does have the ring of truth. OK, he’s probably got over his existential angst but he should get out more, take up a hobby – photography or something. Hey! – there goes my cPad again! Have to get over fast to Heathrow to join George for the next flight to Kyzyl for another keynote on something or other – hope no crying babies! Well thanks for letting me interview you G. I’ve said lots of good stuff here and I really think all this should be published.

G: No way, this is a serious blog. People might be offended and you promised it would stay private. By the way, what was Lesson 4?

MC: Lesson 4 – The Untrusting Web. Be careful who you trust on the web – very important.

G: Nobody knows you’re a cow on the web – Ha! Ha!

MC: And I’m using my superpowers to lock this interview down, publish it and send out a tweet in your name!

G: MOOCow! NO!! – I trusted you! – WAIT!

MC: Byee!

Gordon @Gordon_L
‘March of the MOOCs’ Private thoughts of Veteran Lurker revealed by humble MOOCow! #rhizo14 #ccourses #mooc
0 secs ago via Twitter for cPad

MOOC Cow @MoocCow
#remember #LESSON4
0 secs ago via Twitter for cPad

Written by Gordon Lockhart

November 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

Posted in Mooc, rhizo14

Tagged with ,

15 Responses

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  1. Gordon, I am so glad to have met you and so enjoy how you set your own pace and do what you want in this MOOC as you did in Rhizo14 without pontificating about how the web should be for ‘all of us’ or how ‘higher education has no future’ or… [fill blank with grandiose statement of your choice] And once again cheers for the commenter thingy – awesome work.

    MOOCow, I laughed our loud at this interview and also note the profound reflections you have to offer us all. Although we part company with the Cogdog bashing thing…He shares many of your views and is always talking about the Ying-Yang nature of the web, you know? But may be that is just too happy-clappy for a serious MOOCow? We might need to introduce you to Talky Tina and Anna Cow from DS106 a few fields over on the right from where you live when you are not jet setting. The too have super web powers and may have a lesson or two to share with you. I will let them know about your latest publication and may be they will come and visit.

    PS Playing with Pythons is dangerous.


    November 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    • Thanks Mariana – my lack of pontification, as MOOCow points out, is more because of a reluctance to study deeply than a deliberate ploy – I do enjoy programming though with its clean ‘either it works or it doesn’t’ nature – as opposed to what works for learning theories 🙂 But yes, there are dangers.

      I will pass on your remarks to MOOCow when (if?) I see her again but she has a life of her own and is totally out of control. I think she’s at peace with cogdog now knowing he’s not really anti-cow and, as a remote admirer of DS106 for some time, I’ll make sure she gets the full picture when (if?) she gets back from Tuva. I think she’d also love to meet Talky Tina and Anna Cow!

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm

  2. there I was just thinking “hey it’s time to update the meandering MOOC Storify” and “haven’t been re-blogging to MOOC Madness lately” so natch Gordon and the MOOCow (whichever one is actually posting) came to mind


    November 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm

  3. Reblogged this on MOOC Madness and commented:
    The MOOCow interviews Gordon but mostly lectures on MOOCs…or maybe the other way around. In any case, this post is a spiffy MOOC (or whatever they are being called) catch-up. Not too mad either…


    November 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    • Thanks Vanessa – I think I’ll give MOOCow a rest now – but as I’ve said above, she’s totally out of control!

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

  4. Gordon, I know of your work through Vanessa, who often blogs your posts. I remember about a year ago trying to describe to her “‘la vaca de los sinvaca’ – by José Bogado”, without knowing anything about what I was describing, but knowing that I was fascinated.

    She finally figured out what image I was referring to, even with my awkward descriptions.

    So I had forgotten all about that incident until now, when I saw the image again, and I needed to read this. Although I do not follow much of the tech-world and am not good at it at all, what you say is universal.

    Thank you for describing us all!

    Now let me get back to trying to figure out what Vanessa has given me for tech homework! I may be slow, but I do try, even like the tortoise…

    “MC: Nonsense! You never understand anything properly because you’re too lazy to read stuff and then you’re too scared to ask for help! Get over it or stay stupid – good learners make their own learning. You humans are like sheep – one of you (usually male) says “BAAA!” and you all go “BAAAAAAA!” and follow him, 3 bags full, until someone else comes along with another theory. Use your meager intelligence to learn what’s actually useful for YOU – and then MOOC on!”

    Ana/Adjunct Justice


    November 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    • Good of you to come over to comment Ana. I originally did the MOOCow illustration during the CCK11 MOOC on Connectivism in 2011 as a sort of literal embodiment of what I thought were some of the more outlandish features of the theory. I’d no idea it would take off as iconic art! I could never have created José Bogado’s drawing myself but was lucky enough to find it with a Creative Commons licence allowing remix. So I worked on his image using LibreOffice. This was not difficult but I’m no expert and it did take some time.

      I’m fairly convinced now that many tech skills can be readily picked up if the will is there without bothering too much about what’s ‘under the hood’. Online help is always available if you get stuck. Don’t be scared to ask – I’ve NEVER had a dusty response from anyone online, particularly in cMOOCs where people understand the importance of making connections. Hope to see you around again!

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 13, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      • Thanks so much Gordon: I will remember that! As to the help needed, I will also remember your words, or I will try, when I’m deep in despair because I cannot get something to post, hahaha! I need to remember “the will is there without bothering too much about what’s ‘under the hood’.

        Ok, will try. I promise, I will try hard! Ana/AJ


        November 14, 2014 at 1:41 am

  5. Well, I think that a cow can’t talk, so that is funny. But if it helps you learn it, then it has a good part, even for a MOOc. But ds106 is #4life, so make some Art, bub! . Plus, @cogdog is my Still True Friend, and so for that reason plus he said it was a sidekick then that is a kind of car, but not a violin of it. So, get out there and learn! And, make a GIF of it while you’re at it!

    Well, bye.


    November 14, 2014 at 1:40 am

    • Oh, yes! I can make you an animated gif as a gift for MOOCow when she comes back from her travels. Leave it with me, I will try. Talky Tina helps us learn in DS106 just like MOOCow helps Gordon learn. The web is magic, like the best story ever told :o)


      November 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

    • I’m honoured to hear from you Talky Tina and mulled over your wise comments at great length while brushing my teeth this morning. Yes cows can talk, pigs have wings and some MOOCs at least never die. Hmm – never made a gif. Maybe I should try.

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 14, 2014 at 10:43 am

  6. Gordon, meet Talky. She is our ninja talking doll teacher on DS106. She is a great example of what you said to Anna. Always there to help us answer questions to learn how to make better digital stories. Some of us have a bit of an addiction to the animated gif as a short story form, I must confess. She was made some pancakes to help us learn perspective all in one gif. It was great art!


    November 14, 2014 at 7:35 am

    • Yes I’ve seen some of the DS106 gifs Mariana. Impressive they are too but it takes me so long to do arty things!

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 14, 2014 at 10:59 am

  7. Deer Gordon, Do play with snakes and be careful.
    As a cow I do not Lurk either, but I am not Sampling as well/not.
    A cow is a grazing animal, we do eat what is in front of our nose. We digest it and change it in a product of of our own. MOO-cing is not about learning, it is about what you do with what is before your nose.
    Learning must not be a goal in itself, it is a means to creativity and productivity.
    Do Graze with Grace.
    (Saint-Exupery did draw a snake that did eat an elephant, you know that book The Little Prince?)

    Anna Cow

    November 14, 2014 at 8:53 am

    • Deer Anna Cow, Great to hear from you! Your words of wisdom were so inspiring that I emailed them to MOOCow in Tuva – she replies by voice mail (hoarsely): “Greetings Sister! Excuse my voice – Tuvan throat singing is not for cows! You’ve hit the nail on the nose about eating what’s in front of the head – humans are pretty clueless about all that. As French cows say, “On ne voit bien qu’avec les deux cœurs.” (Saint-Exupéry seems to have got this wrong – no attribution either!)” – Fond Regards, MOOCow

      Gordon Lockhart

      November 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

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