The History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education MOOC (#FutureEd) has begun. We’re now in week #2 (of six weeks) and, so far, it’s been a real eye-opener. Cathy Davidson (Duke University, author of Now You See It) is our ring leader, instructor, coach, and provocateur. The course, like education itself, is made up of many moving parts. There are the videos – short segments featuring Cathy, so far explaining the historical context for the conversation; the readings; the online forums – lively conversation; the personal assignments – optional, depending on how you are taking the course; and, of course, the myriad other social connections made through Twitter, Facebook, Wordles, and the blogs of the enrolled students.
The goal of the course is to thoroughly explore our American education system, which was primarily designed to prepare workers and leaders for the industrial age, and strategize together, as a community, about how we can change that to fit the era we live in now – the information age.
Until today my pleasure in the course has been mostly private. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the readings and the videos, done some exploration in the Forums, wrote a short entry on my favorite teacher (Mrs. Hirschfelder – chemistry) and certainly, I’ve done a lot of mulling and processing. But today, I was able to take that private mulling to a whole new level with a terrific group of fellow thinkers and FutureEd travelers in the virtual world. My friend and colleague Liz Dorland (Chimera Cosmos in Second Life; @ldinstl_chimera) organized a group of FutureEd study group to meet and discuss the course as avatars in Second Life.
There were nine of us to join the cozy campfire circle on the Tufts University island, many of us meeting for the first time (here are a few more pictures of the gathering). We hailed from Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, Washington, Belgium, Scotland, Brazil. Fellow travelers and adventurers in education. We talked about our experience thus far in the course, the ideas in the FutureEd videos, other MOOCs we’ve taken (or started, rather), connectivism, immersiveness, the advantages of small group meetings, differences in education traditions between the U.S. and other countries represented by the group, oculus rift, advantages/disadvantages of online learning….in other words, we covered a lot of ground in one hour.
It was a terrific group of smart people, looking to connect and deepen their understanding. If that sounds like something you’d like to try – join us. We plan to meet every Monday at noon SLT (Pacific time). And here is the SLurl for our starting location (we will take some field trips as well). If you have questions about setting up SL and getting in to join us, comment below and we’ll figure it out together.