MOOC Forums today are pretty good. They need to be great. Where’s the value in a MOOC? Lectures? Activities? I’ve come to feel that meeting colleagues is the most powerful aspect. Like jetting off to a great conference, the talks and exhibits can be great, but it’s the person-2-person that really forges connections and generates new work and new possibilities. So how good are NovoED, Coursera & iversity MOOC Forums? Let’s compare!

MOOC Forums: screen cap of a NovoED group or team showing profile images of the 6 teammates and a description of the team's vision.
A MOOC Group on NovoED. IDK if Coursera & iversity also have this structure. I imagine they must, but of the one course on each platform I’m currently checking out, only the NovoED “Practice Based Research in the Arts” course has groups. The way the groups post in a bulk cut-and-paste doc and then try to cross-evaluate is cumbersome, but that’s a discussion for another post.

MOOC Forums

How do you meet new colleagues in a MOOC? It seems like participating in MOOC Forums and trolling MOOC Profiles are the current ways. And when MOOCs have thousands or tens of thousands of participants, tools to really move through these MOOC Forums & Profiles and find people of compatible energy and engagement are critical. The current tools are not bad. But given the primacy of connecting to new colleagues, and the planet-sized haystack of participants, we don’t need “not bad” or “good” tools, we need great tools.

I should note that I’m new to MOOCs and IDK if my observations are true for all NovoED, Coursera & iversity courses, or just the 1 of each I happen to be checking out. But here they are:

MOOC Forums Need:

• Richer media
• Tags
• Links
• Search

The Google Authorship program (the little photo-icons next to some search results) have shown the power of a simple Profile Image. NovoED has author icons next to all Forum posts. Coursera & iversity don’t. All 3 have forum post links to author profiles, but it’s shocking how many Participants don’t fill out, or anemically fill out, profiles. Students really should do better. But since it’s pretty hard to change the nature of the organism, that puts the responsibility on the platform to be as easy and encouraging as possible for participants to:
• paste a photo
• write a short bio
• link to online presences

It blows me away how many profiles don’t have any links to websites, blogs, videos, or other online content. Hello World Wide Web? Hello 2013? Only Coursera profiles prompt students to add websites and other online presences. On NovoED and iversity you only get them if the student thinks to add weblinks to the text of their profile bio. In most cases the students don’t.

Your Turn

How do you meet MOOC classmates? In MOOC Forums? Trolling profiles? Other ways? Where do you see the value in a MOOC? How do you get it? What would make it better? What would make meeting colleagues easier and more rewarding? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below!

MOOC Forum & Profile Images

Below are some MOOC Forum & Profile ScreenCaps for NovoED, Coursera & iversity. Click one to enter slide show mode and then use your arrow keys to scroll through.


My Coursera Profile
• NovoED seems to block profile access for anyone not logged in to the platform
• iversity doesn’t appear to have URL’s for profiles at all

• NovoED / Practice Based Research in the Arts
• Coursera / Creating Site-Specific Dance & Performance Works
• iversity / The Future of Storytelling

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