Bonk / Bb MOOC week 1: Motivation & Encouragement (?)

inside of an Zambian school. The room welcome ...

Blackboard awaits the arrival of learners.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 5-week MOOC on Instructional Ideas & Technology Tools for Online Success appeals to me, especially when taught by Dr. Curt Bonk. And I’m curious to see how Blackboard is used as the environment for this, for better or worse.

So the first week has us reading up on motivation, tone, and encouragement to help online learners persist and succeed.

And while the content is good, I think for many participants the clearest takeaway at this point is a major sense of cognitive dissonance between the message and the medium. Lisa Lane’s blog has a great discussion going on about this, with Curt Bonk himself and at least one Blackboard employee weighing in. There are Bb tool issues to be sure: The Blackboard discussion board sucks, there is no doubt about it, especially when it is being used at this scale. But I think most of the issues are course design: Why would an open online course be set up to encourage people to use closed-system blogs and wikis? You don’t have to do it that way. But even more so, it is the activity design that I think is the biggest problem thus far. MOOCs certainly have a heightened element of self-organization and learner control, but thus far this MOOC does not feel purposeful about encouraging and facilitating this. We shall see what emerges from the chaos.

I will hold off on posting about week 1 content until after Dr. Bonk’s presentation this afternoon. Unfortunately I will have to watch the archive rather than being able to participate live.


9 thoughts on “Bonk / Bb MOOC week 1: Motivation & Encouragement (?)

  1. Hi Jim, I am enjoying the meeting-up-with-people I might not have met otherwise thanks to the Bonk MOOC… although I am meeting them outside of BB, rather than in. I agree absolutely with your point about blogs in Blackboard – they just don’t make sense, so much so that I’m kind of hesitant to call them blogs. I went to take a quick look just to see if anybody I know had blogged after the presentation today (was playing ping-pong with husband at the time, so did not attend…) – and I realized something odd about the blogs – when someone has posted in more than one “week” (i.e. not multiple posts in one week, but posts in more than one week), you cannot see the posts from the earlier weeks unless you scroll down down down down, past the list of the hundred(s) of other people with blogs, and then, down there at the very bottom, you find the “Blog Index” for the blog you are viewing, where you can click to open the list of posts for the previous week and access the earlier post. Eegad. What are they thinking…? 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Laura. There may be a rationale or two for using the Bb “blogs” in a course setting, but here they make no sense. A potential outcome of all this is that Bb could realize the limitations that their tools place on networked learning and make improvements. We can dream.

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  3. I have to chime in as no one has mentioned the typos, awkward sentences, crooked pdfs, low video production values, etc. that compound the bad course design. As a Blackboard marketing vehicle, this MOOC has some serious issues. Curtis Bonk is interesting, as expected, but when the first synchronous class meeting largely consists of greetings and old slides, it is disappointing — even if the content is free.

    • I agree! It’s as if someone at Blackboard thought, hey, let’s show how open and cool we are by running a MOOC and bringing in Curt Bonk. And someone high up said, make it so. But then they allocated about 2 days to putting the course together and nobody with any sense of how to design such a thing in an open and cool way was involved.

      And even if something like that is true, I still think Bb could have salvaged a bit of credibility if they had just been open about all that. If they had said loud and clear from the get-go something like, “Hey, we know that this course is probably not going to work especially well, and the tools may not either – but this is a learning experience for us here at Bb and we expect to evolve this course rapidly and our toolset as well as a result of this. So please feel free to tell us what works, what doesn’t, and how we can align what we’re doing more with the message of this course.” And, if they had asked Bonk not only to re-present his core content/message, but also to put a spin on it related to the tool itself – i.e. the course became a reflective critique of Bb as a tool that might still be relevant given emerging models of blended/online learning … well that also would have been so much better.

      • Jim, I wholeheartedly agree. A little openness goes a long way. The first week has had a, “Hmm, do you think anyone will notice that the emperor has no clothes?” feel to it. Well, we darn well better notice as this is our bread and butter! Old content + bad design + poor grammar + lackluster tools = no audience. I’ll check-in when I can to see if things change dramatically — really, I hope they do — but my opinion of Blackboard hasn’t improved. I dare say that Dr. Bonk will lend his name to another such venture without a thorough vetting again either.

        Oh well, onward we go!


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