Good practice tips from the Digital Culture and Writing MOOC

The Digital Culture and Writing MOOC, or DCW for short, has just finished after 6 intense weeks of activity. So we thought it would be nice to share some of the lessons learned to help future MOOC providers.
DCW was born from the desire to support a wide audience faced with the emergence of digital technology. Its main aim is to provide an overview of the potential of digital writing and culture to publish, share and communicate on the web. The approach is both practical and reflective, encouraging learners to develop a critical view.

DCW mascot

One interesting phenomenon we noticed was the continuous progression of enrolment throughout the duration of the MOOC, with the number of participants doubling from 150 to 300 by the end of the MOOC. This can be explained in part by the close integration of social media learning activities. As we pointed out in the recent EMMA webinar on social media to engage learners, the use of a specific hashtag for the course (#EMMAdcw in this case) not only helps federate the community of learners but also serves to promote the MOOC while it’s running.

Other popular activities included creating and sharing avatars, a riddle to solve and two live events, one using a wiki for live chat and synchronous collaborative writing, the other in the form of a Tweetchat. It was also interesting to note that out of the three learning paths we offered (beginner, intermediate and expert) the majority chose to follow the expert path, which required the most effort in terms of learner production, reflexion and collaboration.

Finally, a sign of success and again of the high level of engagement was the request of a number of participants to be able to access the content after the course officially ended. For DCW, we thus chose to keep the MOOC open for an additional two weeks, taking us to the beginning of the summer holidays, and also applied the same principle to our other MOOC #OWU (Open Wine University).

As MOOC designers and providers, this is one of the aspects we all need to address in terms of strategy. It obviously depends on a number of factors, one being our conception of the first O in MOOC: do we mean open access, enrolment open to all, MOOC content as Open Educational Resources, or any of the many other facets of Open Education? As we often hear, in the term MOOC every letter is negotiable! Or is it?

What do you think?

Deborah Arnold & Alexandra Langlois-Maurice, University of Burgundy, France

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