Community Open Online Courses: Create Your Own MOOC

My thoughts on Community Open Online Courses – COOCs – is that it is a vitally needed platform and resource for the enablement of knowledge sharing as well as personal and group development. Increasingly the production of knowledge is being coopted by market values which is resulting in the narrowing of who gets to make meaning, and who gets valued in our culture for having created public content.


COOCs facilitates a more open landscape of learning through teaching, and enables anyone to (a) use the same technology as many universities to share their knowledge (b) learn through teaching – a dialogue approach to knowledge building (c) engage with a community of peers. Not only this, but it provides the facility to bootstrap community organisations and small businesses to structure essential learning programmes which they feel are important for those who become a part of their project or enterprise.


Normally these means are technically and financially outside the reach of these smaller concerns. As once expressed by Virginia Woolf in her ‘A Room of Ones Own‘ – “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” She wrote this in the context of the need for equity in a gendered sense, and how there are certain provisions which are prerequisits for development.


Now, this sentiment – whatever the proclivities of the author – is important in a much broader context where in our modern society we are facing greater stratification and where this stratification is based upon the opportunities which are open to each individual.


My view of COOCs is that it is embodying a richer and more productive view of what learning is in human terms. The educational philosophy which Peter Shukie has evolved is impressive in terms of its inclusivity where it values a social component as dynamic and vital. Just as we are seeing open source software starting to outperform proprietary software which carries with it all sorts of problems; COOCs provides a medium which can shape a sort of open source education that holds within it complimentarity.


We need a diverse educational landscape which opens out opportunities (see Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen‘s human capabilities approach to development), and what is emerging in the COOCs space are those very opportunities for people to be real stakeholders in knowledge production rather than communities which are ‘instructed upon’ by a narrowly governed system which is accorded with financial and social circumstance.


My belief is that – along with other developments – this view of the MOOC space, forms part of a societal apparatus which is being created out of necessity. Anchored to this word ‘necessity’ in this context are ideas such as play, co-production, opportunity, inclusion, common ownership, access, community, equity, exploration, experimentation, valuation, and dialogue.


Most of all, for me, what Peter has nurtured in COOCs is a dialogue with learning in which we can all take part. This is a route to the Gestalt which collectively we all need to recognize over time. As I gain the skills of using the Moodle space, this will be a key component of all that I do in community – be it through the Ragged University community education project I am involved with, or as a private individual who curates and shares their own knowledge building experience in a given context.


Start Sculpting Your Own Today

We live in amazing times in terms of the tools we have available to us to create, share and learn from knowledge resources.  The tools available to us through open source platforms build our capabilities to achieve the things we want to.  The creative and intellectually open vision of COOCs I think warrents support through practice.  By using the COOCs community to create your own online course you are helping build a new infrastructure of open learning which is both missing and needed culturally.


Besides from developing skills in communication, structuring a pathway through that knowledge, and an internationally respected e-learning platform, by creating your own online course I argue that you will deepen your knowledge of your subject.  Educational activities outside of the formal environments we are familiar with are an important part of the learning landscape which have affordances which are unique to them.


The Community Open Online Courses platform I see as a digital cousin to the idea of the Ragged University, so as much as I argue we need to meet in the flesh and socialise around learning, I feel we need to use such platforms to put what we know and think (and think we know) into the public domain for all to share.


To reduce learning to one space or another is to choose which hand to cut off.  Many people will not find using the digital comfortable.  Many people will not find talking face to face with ‘strangers’ comfortable.  However, both situations allow us to develop our futures collectively and individually.  Everyone needs to design their own education over their lives, and COOCs is an important companion in this process. It represents something akin to the development of the pencil or written language.  It fosters our ability to communicate over space and over time; and it is in developing that communication process that we get deep into knowing something.


Now tell me, would you choose to be without a pencil ?

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