Self-regulated learning and how to cope with MOOC abundance

A MOOC is built around a learner-centered approach. This means that each of the participants is responsible for their own learning. As such MOOC participants must be made aware of self-regulated learning and the learning challenges a MOOC brings along.

  1. Everyone is in this together, everyone will learn from each other
  2. Peer-to-peer and informal learning are corner stones of (e)learning in this knowledge era
What does this mean? The participants must understand the implications of self-regulated learning.

A MOOC will give all the participants an enormous amount of content. Even if only a few formal resources are added, the discussion threads, the reflections shared by the participants and the additional resources suggested by the participants and/or facilitators will simply result in a feeling of information overload. This overload sometimes results in participants stepping out of the MOOC information stream and sometimes they even decide to drop-out just because of this overload.

It is crucial that people who want to join a MOOC are made aware of this risk of information overload. Additionally some pointers can be given so new MOOC’rs can learn from other MOOC participants on how to stay on top of all this information.
The simplest rule is: you must NOT read or react to everything that is posted, but for some of us it is difficult to let go and trust that even if we do not read everything, our minds will still be able to lift itself to new heights of understanding.
During the MobiMOOC the more experienced MOOC’rs put their heads together and came up with some guidelines on how to regulate the information overload of a MOOC. This is what was shared:

12 Tips for coping with the abundance of resources in MOOCs

  1. Use the course to your advantage! You know where you want to go, ask relevant help.
  2. Select between the abundance of resources. All of the facilitators have been in mobile learning for years, this means they have lists of resources. Do not expect yourself to go through them all: SELECT.
  3. Plan which type of participant you want to be during a MOOC you can have different levels of interaction. To know what time and effort you can invest in the MOOC you want to follow, make sure you have an idea of the time you can spend per week. In general one can have three major ways to participate in a MOOC: lurking, intermediate interaction, and be one of the memorably active participants. Due to the time and work investment linked to the memorably active option, this will only be possible for a small part of the participants, even though many participants might think they will be able to pull it off. To keep those participants that do not manage to keep up with the high level participation motivated, it is important to ensure them that at stage of participation brings along useful insights and additional knowledge. This is best done at the start of the course and repeated during the first few weeks.
  4. Develop a mental filter: you do not need to reply to everyone, skim discussions and choose to reply on what is of interest to you.
  5. Get to the point: be short (max 250 words) and respectful in your discussions/questions/answers. This will save time for everyone.
  6. Use descriptive titles in your discussion threads: this allows people to immediately anticipate where you are going with your message.
  7. Connect with participants working on the same topic: there are too many participants, so select those who work on the same area (health, classrooms, languages…). Get to know one another, that way you can also stay in touch while your mLearning plans develop.
  8. Check your e-mail digest (great tip from Ken!): once you have joined the google-group, make sure you choose how you want to be kept up to date: recommended choices either an abridged e-mail (= you get a summary of the new activities each day) or digest e-mail (you get all the new messages bundled into one single mail per day). You can change these settings after you have joined as well, in the google group section 'edit my membership'.
  9. Dare to ask questions to stay on top of the content: sometimes you might not understand a concept which seems to be clear to all the rest (rest assured, there are always others who are also wondering about the same issues as you). If you feel unsure about a mobile aspect, ask the group or – if you do not feel confident enough: ask one of the facilitators.
  10. Pace yourself to keep motivated. Do not pressure yourself with perfection or the quest for full understanding: take it easy and know that your brain will pick up new knowledge, but it also needs time off for dreaming and being inspired.
  11. Dare to take time off: if you feel stressed and pacing no longer works => take time off. Get relaxed again and then join in. Remember, each week is focusing on a new topic, so you can always come back in for a fresh start.
  12. The most important idea behind self-regulated learning is: Make the course Work for YOU!