Excuse me, I think I just did a MOOC.

I stumbled across this description of a MOOC when reading this OT blog last week.

Blimey. I thought. That’s what I’ve been looking for. In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing!

In fact, I haven’t. Not by a long chalk. Helen has been participating in an incredible event, called #eduMOOC2011, which is an eight week course now into it’s fifth week. So it’s not exactly what I’ve been doing, but rather, something I wish I’d been doing…

It really is a great concept aiming to develop networked learning. This reminds me of how knowledge is spread through insect colonies.

In a bee hive, for instance, the various worker bees go out to find food. On their return , they perform little bee dances to tell the other hive members about what the food is, where it is, how far you have to fly, and all the other stuff bees like to know. Excuse my rather vague handle on this- I’m no entymologist!

My point is, that this is how social media works. Like the bees, we tell others in our networks where the good information is, and others then follow our pointers to events, to URLs, to engage in “clicktivism”, whatever.

Gradually we develop trusted networks for curation of content and they become a short-cut- we know we can trust their opinion on how useful the content is.

(Question- do bees ever tell lies about food? or do they have better and worse bees/colonies for successfully transmitting information? I would love to know!)

Over time, we develop networks of people who are looking for similar content. Like the bee hive, we are greater than the sum of our parts, because we can utilise far greater “processing power” by collaborating together online than we can as individuals.

Okay, I’m going to leave the analogy there, and talk about MOOC.

As the video above explains, MOOC is just a way of describing the process of acquiring knowledge which, in previous times, may only have been available through learned institutions, and through diligent attention to books, journals, or lectures. People without access to these forms of learning could therefore be left behind. But as this clip from RSA shows, how we conceive of education now has to change, for several reasons.

  • Cost. University education is now very expensive. For people who do not wish to become endebted, it could be the case that this form of learning is an effective way to continue to develop and learn without attending university. Perhaps universities will spot this and offer a discounted rate for people to sit qualifications without access to their limited spaces in lecture theatres?
  • Social exclusion. People who experience stigma because of mental illness or other reasons could find that they are able to learn removed from the pressures of the social environment of a university? I wouldn’t want to recommend this as an adaptive response to social phobia or fear of stigma, but I can imagine circumstances (Asperger’s?) where this would make accommodation for someone’s particular needs or sensory sensitivities.
  • Lifestyle. People who are looking after children or other family members may wish to work from home, in hours of their own choosing. This could offer a solution for those groups, much like the OU does, but again, at less cost.
  • Bad experiences in formal education. So many people have felt excluded from education due to their bad experiences at school. Some of them may not have been diagnosed with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia until later in life, and suffered bullying in school from pupils or staff. Many people who have had poor experiences could be encouraged to gain basic skills, or update their knowledge ahead of trying out more formal routes of education, in a supportive network of people.
So what is my point?
What I am thinking of, as ever, is the application of this understanding to my OT practice and to the possibilities for growth it represents.
  • I love learning. I intend to continue learning all my life. I am determined to engage with the idea of a MOOC, just to see where it takes me.
  • I would love to see an OTMOOC event shape up- perhaps after this year’s virtual exchange we could plan one to culminate in next year’s virtual exchange? However, for the time being, I’m going to MOOC about using the online resources I already have.
  1. My network of OT blogs that you can see on the right hand side is a good place to start——–>
  2. And if you are dipping your toes in the water of online technology as an OT, I would strongly urge you to complete this short survey to provide us with more of an evidence base about how our profession is using online tech (add your email at the end if you want to be entered into the prize draw for an iPod!)
  3. Also, are you aware of the OT4OT blog? It’s a good place to share information about how OTs are using online technology.
  4. Coming up is the 24 hour OT Virtual Exchange- widely billed as the conference you can attend in your pyjamas- on 26th October 2011, 24 presentations from around the world highlighting a range of different OT approaches available at a computer near you, and at absolutely no cost. Check out the facebook group.
  • As ever, we need to remember that there are possibilities for practice within this model.
  1. One of the roles of the OT is in health education. We can offer our unique occupational perspective through this technique as much as any other.
  2. Education about aids and adaptations can be hugely useful. I have lost count of the numbers of people I have shown products to through websites when they would never have set foot into a mobility showroom. We could make great strides in ensuring our service users have access to this information online.
  3. Perhaps videos of people who are doing Occupational Therapy, to show how this benefits them? (With all appropriate consents etc.)
Once more, this doesn’t solve the problem of digital exclusion. That has to be tackled. But as more and more people have access to technology such as smartphones, we can hope that the day is not far off that we can ensure fair and equitable access to information.
On that day, we can all MOOC together.
I like the sound of that. Do you?

I am an Occupational Therapist, who writes about health, particularly mental health. I am interested in social media and Web 2.0, and where these technological advances can support wellness and health.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blogging, Digital Inclusion, Evidence based practice, Facebook, Learning Disabilities, Occupational Therapy, Physical disability, Reflection, Social Inclusion, Social Media, Social Phobia, Stigma, Web 2.0
8 comments on “Excuse me, I think I just did a MOOC.
  1. Helen OTUK says:

    Excellent analogy Claire, I had been trying to to come up with something, but am not as articulate as yourself. I think the bee hive is a great way of framing a MOOC. As for the OTMOOC I have also been thinking the same. It would be great… I have been pondering it as I go through the eduMOOC. I am glad that my blog has at least sparked some thinking from the OT world, again thanks. As always, your insight and reflections are appreciated.

  2. Claire says:

    Thanks for commenting, Helen! I think there’s definitely something in the idea, but how to work out the practicalities? I’m looking forward to suggestions from our colleagues in education who might have some good ideas. Similarly, I would love to see how to apply the idea to practice. But so far, so good- there seems to be a real community of people who are interested to run with this idea…

  3. [...] of This Week in Mentalists ‘wild card’ is a non-social work post but a post from an ClaireOT about MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). I know some OTs are much more involved in this than social workers (judging from my ‘social [...]

  4. [...] Excuse me, I think I just did a MOOC. I stumbled across this description of a MOOC when reading this OT blog last week. Blimey. I thought. That's what I've been looking for. In fact, that's what I've been doing! In fact, I ha… Source: claireot.wordpress.com [...]

  5. [...] Excuse me, I think I just did a MOOC. I stumbled across this description of a MOOC when reading this OT blog last week.Blimey. I thought. That's what I've been looking for. In fact, that's what I've been doing!In fact, I ha… Source: claireot.wordpress.com [...]

  6. [...] media and Social Media. One of the ways I am keen to explore this is through a MOOC, which I have blogged about previously. Some of Monday was spent formulating plans about MOOC development, including an element suitable [...]

  7. [...] 7, 2012 Leave a Comment http://claireot.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/excuse-me-i-think-i-just-did-a-mooc/ Share this:FacebookLinkedInTwitterDiggRedditStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  8. [...] 7, 2012 Leave a Comment After previously considering what a MOOC for OT, and indeed for healthcare should look like, I am delighted to report that plans are underway to [...]

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I'm an OT called Claire. I write about health, particularly mental health, and also about Social Media and Web 2.0 technology. I am particularly interested where these two fields overlap.
I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.

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