MOOC Metacognition

Today I embarked on a new MOOC.

No big deal. I’ve registered for over 20 MOOC’s to date. But this one is different. Why? Because it is of the same species as my first MOOC. Same university. Same platform. Same subject. Same format. Same crowd.

Well, there are some differences… New instructor. New assignments. New cohort. But the parallelism is stark, and the number of people from my first MOOC who have collectively, or individually, decided to register for this new MOOC, is quite spellbinding. The new MOOC launched today, but the buzz in the G+ discussion threads have been going strong for a few days now.

In the past 6-7 months, there has been a steady staple of discussions in G+ which revolve around the observation, analysis, evaluation and reimagination of MOOCs. I use the term “re-imagine”, rather than “re-design”, as most of the discussion participants involved do not have access to actual deployment of MOOCs, although almost all are established educators in their various disciplines, many of whom are online instructors and believers of “OOCs”, albeit the “non-massive” kind.

I too have been part of this circle of steady MOOCies, active in my newly established online presence, diligently contributing to G+ discussions, as well as to my own blog site. My learning curve the past 6 months, IMHO, has been steeper than what I had experienced during my virgin MOOC the year before, and the enlightenment that I perceived to have gained during that virgin MOOC, was in comparison, by far, more illuminating than the education that I obtained during my Ivy League college years.

In simple English, the progression of “learning” that I have experienced, through my recent informal online escapades, is surprisingly superior to any of my past formal experiences, and that this “progression” seems to continue in an upward trajectory in terms of perceptive satisfaction on a daily basis.

I just re-read the paragraph above. That was not “simple English”. So, let me try one more time… In simple English, I am learning more now, through chatting online with people whom I’ve never met, than I ever have, in my whole life.

Strange? Yes? …well, maybe not.

If the concept called “strange” is defined as a manifestation of “uniqueness”, then, my observations are not “strange”. I have read so many testimonials in G+ regarding the “amazing learning” that takes place daily through these informal peer-to-peer dialogs, that it is hard to deny the ubiquity of this claim.

What I find even more interesting, is the fact that I am not alone in my observations. It turns out that there are many others who also share positive opinions about their online enlightenment. And we all signed up for this same new MOOC, because we all are curious at what it might offer us in comparison to the earlier MOOC…

I am currently working on the first assignment in this new MOOC. Participants are required to fill out a Qualtrics survey form (part 1), and then, post a refection through the MOOC assignment tool (part 2). I am using this blog as my part 2 assignment. I am also concluding this blog by copy pasting what I had submitted in part 1. The assignment asked us to reflect on our current state of mind as we begin our journey in this MOOC. I decided to be wholly-sincerely-honest. Now, after having clicked SUBMIT, I wonder what the MOOC instructor and instructional designers will say when they read my answers?

This is what I submitted:

Question: What aspects of this online course are you currently looking forward to or excited about?


  • (1) I am interested in seeing how this course compares to the previous Stanford MOOC that I took through VLab.
  • (2) I am curious to see the improvements that Vlab / NovoEd has developed on their platform since last year.
  • (3) I am eager to see how the “individual assignments + team advising” method works better/worse than the “team projects” method (which was deployed during the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (4) I am excited to experiment in the effectiveness of open G+ discussions “outside” of the MOOC platform (which I did not do during the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (5) I am looking forward to working with some of my previous classmates from the former MOOC that I took in VLab (as many of us decided to sign up together for the same reasons as (1)-(4) above.
  • (6) I am also happy to meet new people from all over the world who have similar interests (to add to the cohort of online collaborators whom I developed from the last MOOC that I took in VLab).

Question: What reservations or concerns do you have about taking this online course?


  • (1) I am skeptical that the peer grading calibration tool will work effectively for the assignments that require peer reviews (as that tool malfunctioned in the previous MOOC that I took in VLab).
  • (2) I am hoping that the VLab rubrics design has improved since last year and is structured sufficiently to be able to scaffold novice learners who are doing peer reviews for the first time (this is important to ensure a “fair” playing field when expecting peer-to-peer evaluations from both novice and expert level “students” in the same cohort).
  • (3) I am hopeful that the instructors for this MOOC will hold live video conferencing Q&A sessions during the course of this MOOC to gain formative feedback from participants for the purposes of ongoing progressive design development of this MOOC (as some other MOOCs by other universities have done, such as UK Open University which held G+ Hangout On Air sessions every 2-3 weeks, plus a post mortem open feedback session at the end of the course, in which student representatives were invited to speak)

Question: Can you suggest any success criteria that would help us determine how useful this online course has been for you and/or to others?


  • In addition to just collecting quantitative data on student “completion rates”, the instructors, instructional designers, and platform providers for this course should invite the “experienced” participants in this course to engage in a two-way open dialog on the design of this course, with the instructors, instructional designers, and platform providers for this course.
  • FYI, there are a large number of us who are from DNLE, who are ourselves academic and professional educators, instructional designers, and online course providers, who have collectively and/or individually decided  to invest our time in taking this Design Thinking MOOC, in order to do a “grassroots-crowdsourcing” comparative research study on MOOC course design, for the purposes of studying, experiencing, and documenting (ie. “action-research on MOOC Metacognition“). Incidentally, these “research” efforts are not sanctioned by the MOOC providers. These are independent efforts. To quote one of the active participants, “Anyone with intelligence, inclination and the skills to follow their curiosity and investigate their interests is a researcher”….

NOTE: This blog sparked subsequent dialog in G+. Link to post.


6 thoughts on “MOOC Metacognition

  1. tempted, oh so tempted…do you recall Oscar Wilde’s advice? The best way to deal with temptation is by succumbing to it. The siren call of research beckons…necessary too for cross comparison with changes in other xMOOCs (and those strewn along the way between x and c)

    • Vanessa,

      The “calling” to do this “grassroots-action-research” has been a lifelong, innate, deep passion for me… It is symbolic of democracy, equality, and humanity. Everyone, deserves the right to choose what, how, and when they want to LEARN…

      So, Vanessa, if you decide to succumb to the “calling” too, just let me know. I would be honored to join forces.


  2. 🙂
    See you in there, Vanessa!
    And don’t forget to observe yourself through the course… immersion action research is all about observing our own learning journey!

  3. Reblogged this on MOOC Madness and commented:
    metacognition plus connections are the best part of connectivist moocs ~ the kernel, Chaucer would say ~ and something true guerrilla learners can make happen elsewhere, whatever names they go by. My confession du jour, yesterday I registered for the same one and for much the same reasons. I will try to blog the experience and my observations somewhere.

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