Describing the Stages of Weekly Participation in a cmooc

I participated in the #moocmooc last week (admittedly I had superficial participation later in the week, as my semester and “day job” began). As I participated, I picked up on many comments that expressed frustration with the chaotic “feel” of the mooc. Some of those comments are expressed well in a colleague’s blog posting at the end of the #moocmooc.

We launch the #diffimooc this week, and I think that through our brainstorming meetings and our discussions of what we want from the mooc I am most pleased with our clarification of three stages of learning for the cmooc. These stages were really helpful to me as I outlined the structure of the mooc for my students this week. In outlining our three stages of learning, I think that we are able to frame the cmooc experience a bit. These stages of learning aren’t highly innovative or ground-breaking. To me, they are simply a common-sense approach that will allow students to anticipate (and perhaps manage) the experience they will have each week.


Stage One: Static Input

In Stage One each week (our week runs Wednesday through Tuesday) students will research the essential question for the week. They will collect resources using a social bookmarking tool like Diigo or Pinterest. In the first part of the week, they will share these resources with each other, contributing to the knowledge base of the group with a focus on the essential question. For students who don’t know where to start with the mooc this may be helpful: Research, read, gain a foundation, and then curate those resources so that you might return to them later. In addition – share these resources so that others might experience your perspective or orientation. Students need not read ALL of these resources (it would be impossible to do so!). Rather, they will naturally read the resources which interest them most, and fill their own gaps in knowledge.

Stage Two: Interaction

In Stage Two each week, students will interact with others about the resources they have found. They might wish to interact on the blogs they have located. They might wish to follow authors of the blogs on Twitter and engage a bit there. They might wish to interact with their Google Groups, or with the class as a whole on Twitter. As this interaction occurs, students will share the resources they have gathered. This could happen in the form of a Diigo list, a Pinterest board, or a link that they found really interesting. Perhaps they have authentic questions about the resource that they’d like to discuss with others. Maybe the resource identifies their own orientation well. In Stage Two, we test our assumptions. We compare our own perspectives with the perspectives of others, and we challenge ourselves to a higher level of empathy, understanding, and skill.

Stage Three: Output

Stage Three is Output. It also could be called Creation. This is the stage at which we post our final synthesis of the week in our Blog. We may choose to create a video reflection of the week’s Essential Question. Perhaps we will create a concept map to share the connections we made during the week, along with a short rationale. In Stage Three, we synthesize the information we found, the skills we mastered, the learning we contributed to and the knowledge we gained. In Stage Three, we are prepared to share at least at an informed level, our own (somewhat) formal perspective of the information encountered over the week.

 Lather, Rinse and Repeat…and Repeat…and Repeat…

And while Stage Three is the final stage in this process, it is also its own beginning. When we share our perspective in a social space, we invite discourse. We’ll continue to learn and develop. We’re never “done” with this process!

Of course, one danger of outlining these stages might be that students may take them very literally. Certainly one need not complete one stage before moving to another. In all likelihood, Stage One will continue throughout the week, as will Stage Two. Stage Three is the completion of the week, but the beginning of a new learning adventure. It is important I think that we emphasize to students that the stages are meant to assist them in an initial creation of order from the chaos. They aren’t prescriptive as much as they are descriptive. And they aren’t meant to limit, only to empower.

I’m excited to get feedback on whether the presentation of these stages assist students as they begin the cmooc. It is my hope that these stages, as simple as they are, will help students to feel less “lost at sea”.

Lee Graham is the Coordinator of the STEM Department at the University of Alaska Southeast, and serves as a tutor for the University of Liverpool EdD Program. She is currently working to wrap her head around a MOOC for teachers which will be offered starting January 16, 2013. She may be reached at


1 response to Describing the Stages of Weekly Participation in a cmooc

  1. The learning path model provided here is very helpful for me as a student and should be useful for me as a teacher. Thanks for the concept.

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