Location-anchored old-school MOOCs


hey guys!

for those who don’t know me, i help to run an intentional community house that’s sort of a “community meets bed and breakfast and event space” in san francisco.

although we do a lot of events and constantly have a lot of people through the space, we’ve been thinking about ways to bring more depth of discussion, learning and community building to the activities we do as a house. the idea came up to have a sort of 3-6 month long learning “theme” hosted by the house (for example, “oceans” or “decision-making structures.” it would be a way to tie together different types of events (whether reading group, dinner, movie night, salon, workshop, etc.) but would also be meant to feel very much like the original connectivist MOOCs a la downes/seimens (cf. this huff post article if you haven’t read it).

although the MOOC would be anchored by periodic in-person gatherings, it would be nice for it to have an online thread tying things together between these gatherings, in particular to support the organic process of “constructing and traversing networks of connections” that seems (IMHO) core to the connectivist MOOC approach (or at the very least, it’s a part i like and would want to keep :smile:). the online component would aggregate articles and media people find, blog posts they write, social media they create, and links to the events we host - all for the sake of supporting and reinforcing the connectivist explorations.

anyway - the questions (finally!) are, does anyone have any experience with this approach to a cMOOC, and what were your experiences? do you have any suggestions or best practices for the aggregation component? as simple as a hashtag on twitter and FB? are there other methods of content contributions i’m missing that we’d want to capture?

thanks for any thoughts!


Hi there,
For Aggregation, one approach which could be appropriate for your set up is to have a “Network” of blogs. This is pretty easy to set up and you get an Activity stream of all the posts, and a list of members.

I’ve been doing it on a summer course I’ve been running. It’s for artists to represent their work online. Sharing their experiences is very important so this visible space for sharing was important. Not many of them already had blogs, so there wasn’t a barrier there, or if they did they set up a ‘learning blog’.

Here’s the activity stream - http://mcrblogs.co.uk/activity/
and the list or members - http://mcrblogs.co.uk/members/

It takes a mild amount of tech to get a network with BuddyPress working but very worth the effort. It can be great community resource.


Karen Fasimpaur has a lot of experience with this approach to online courses. Both her small P2PU courses at School of Ed were modeled like this, and she recently organized a course with the National Writing Project (the Connected Learning MOOC / CLMOOC) that used a variety of tools, hashtags, etc.

A few years ago, I actually worked on a prototype aggregator built in yahoo pipes. Here is the old blog post (old post, but amazing picture if I may say so myself).


thanks guys! i think for us a simple mailing list might also be a great way to let people send out/share stuff - something like a mailman list would let people view online or get emails to their inboxes. and then combining that with hashtags would mean they can set up a blog but wouldn’t have to do it on a specific platform… i guess really links are the interoperable item so they can come from anywhere :smile:

i remember we tried using identica for a mooc group once, but didn’t push it very far. i like the idea of being able to follow sub-topics within the mooc more closely too.

thanks for the thoughts!


Hi! We had very good luck using G+ for this with #clmooc. (See https://plus.google.com/communities/111619469354411254407 and https://plus.google.com/communities/111619469354411254407 and .) We also used email, Twitter, blog aggregation, and some other tools, but G+ was by far the most used and best liked.

For me, the big pro of G+ is ease of use; it really fostered intense participation. The con is lack of openness and dependency on tools that are subject to change/disappearance at any time (a dev issue, not a user issue).

(PS I didn’t know that the house your run there was structured as an intentional community. That’s interesting. And I like your ideas about building learning communities. Thanks for sharing.)


thanks @kfasimpaur! super cool. to post to the G+ community, do you have be on the google plus site, or can people post through the hangouts interface? i wonder why they liked g+ the most? specifically, do you tihnk it’s the demographic or something implicit about the features of the tool itself?

(and thanks for the house enthusiasm! come visit when you’re in SF :))


To post to a G+ community, you have to “join” the community, but that’s one click as long as you have a google account which it seems nearly everyone on the planet does. I think they liked the g+ community because: 1) there’s almost no setup for the user, 2) it’s super easy to use (for all demographics in our experience), 3) it’s really easy to lurk + become engaged, 4) it supports adding photos + links easily which really made the content a lot more engaging.


I’ve also done some digging around in aggregating blogs. One of the best options I found was FeedWordPress. Like BuddyPress it does require some minimal tech setup and a WordPress blog you have control over but it works really well and has a lot of options to customize it the way you want.