It can be argued that many first-wave MOOCs squandered the power of the ‘massive’. Armando Fox describing his experience of teaching a MOOC identified the massive aspect of MOOCs as magnifying the influence of ‘vocal jerks’ and cheats, as well as interfering with the individual learners ‘intimate experience’ with the learning (Fox, 2013). Losh (2014) argues that massive is a ‘contested term’ as it celebrates the scope and scale of learner participation but also encourages hierarchies, exclusion and dominant behaviours (Losh, 2014). However, thinking about the massive in terms of participation numbers and completions makes sense in the modern metrics of a successful higher education provision (Brennan and Shah, 1994, Gale and Hodge, 2014). Alternately, it can be argued that first-wave MOOCs rarely challenged the primacy of the ‘course’ in terms of structure and outcome, utilising traditional stop/start points, weekly engagements and a constructive approach to sequence (Siemens, 2013). This equally makes sense in the context of our understanding of distance and residential education. However, as Morris and Stommel (2015) note ‘…the best potentials of the crowd are squandered by a desire to build something that makes sense’.
While not a project with explicit educational aims, ConstitutionUK nevertheless presented a number of educational opportunities. Our approach was to leverage existing best practices in online and blended learning as an intrinsic part of the overall user engagement strategy for the project, though – critically – without invoking the traditional (sensible) HE pedagogies that have characterised the significant majority of first-wave MOOC offerings. We argue that within the context of this project, the integration of peer and crowd engagement, informal learning and participatory democracy in order to empower ‘the massive’ to make and participate in change challenges the role of the institution and the academic in an open space. What emerged was a flexible set of pedagogic principles and an innovative instructional approach that proudly bear the influences of connectivism, social-constructivism, experiential and non-formal learning and which synthesise aspects of each of these into a compelling and transformative user proposition which, we hope, may prove to be a valuable contribution to the emerging, post-MOOC landscape.
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FOX, A. 2013. What Was It Like To Teach a MOOC? Armando Fox [Online]. Available from: http://www.armandofox.com/2013/01/14/what-was-it-like-to-teach-a-mooc/ 2015].
GALE, T. & HODGE, S. 2014. Just imaginary: Delimiting social inclusion in higher education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35, 688-709.
LOSH, E. 2014. The war on learning: Gaining ground in the digital university, MIT Press.
MORRIS, S. M. & STOMMEL, J. 2015. The Course as Container: Distributed Learning and the MOOC. Global Innovation of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Springer.
SIEMENS, G. 2013. Massive Open Online Courses: Innovation in Education. En: Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice.(RoryMcGreal, Ed.)(1st ed., p. 268). Athabasca: UNESCO. http://www. col. org/resources/publications/Pages/detail. aspx.