Monthly Archives: August 2015

MOOC, Types of MOOCs, Connectivism, Pedagogy

Types of MOOCs

MOOC, Types of MOOCs, Connectivism, Pedagogy

We all know what MOOCs are, but here it is once again. 

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are:

  • Massive: The number of people who join MOOCs is huge. Depending on the promotion and the associated value of the MOOC provider, any number of people may join in.
  • Open: There are no barriers to joining a MOOC, other than the requirement of a computer and Internet. 
  • Online: MOOCs are delivered online, but the delivery format, pedagogy, and purpose of MOOCs varies for different online courses.
  • Courses: MOOCs are courses. This means that they are structured and paced. However, the pedagogy of a MOOC may decide how the MOOC is organized.

What we don’t know is—how many of them are out there and if we were to organize them pedagogically, how would they classify?

While there are several kinds of MOOCs, I think pedagogically we can categorize* most into the following types:

Content-Based MOOCs

These MOOCs are being offered by big universities. They have famous professors, huge promotion capabilities and people flock to these courses because of the credibility of the university offering the course. 

Pedagogically these courses seem to use the instructivist approach to learning. This means that they’re driven by lectures and automatic assessments.

Monetarily, they run on funding and some may charge students for assessment and certification.

Network-Based MOOCs

These are the original MOOCs. Promoted by professors, such as Alec Couros, Stephen Downes etc. 

Pedagogically these courses use the connectivist approach to learning. This means that they utilize the network for learning. The by-products of these MOOCs are a large network of people coming together, producing their own content, evoking conversations, and using the power of the Web to involve experts and becoming life-long learners of the field. Assessments are considered redundant in this kind of a MOOC.

They require ongoing effort on the part of the people running the MOOCs.

Task-Based MOOCs

These MOOCs form a comparatively small number of courses being offered. One can say that Jim Groom has pioneered this approach. 

Pedagogically these courses seem to be constructivist in nature. As the name suggests, these MOOCs are organized around tasks. Learners get together online and perform a task and then present it to the rest. People learn from each other around these tasks. Assessments are in the form of the output of the group. There is no formal scoring.  

They require ongoing effort on the part of the people running the MOOCs.

Some of these MOOCs are there to make money, others for the love of teaching. Which of these MOOC types is most effective? 

 *Category names are as proposed by Lisa Lane in one of the network-based or Connective MOOCs I lurked on, in around 2012. 




Boring Presentations, Interesting Presentations

Five Creative Formats to Make Company Presentations Thrilling

Boring Presentations, Interesting PresentationsWe’ve all been there. We’ve faked interest. We’ve endured them. We’ve pinched ourselves to stay alert. We’ve sat through boring presentations for the sake of greater good of humanity.

Not another post on how to design your PowerPoint slides. Not even about how PowerPoint is the worst tool of all times. Here we talk about getting creative with the presentation format itself.


Format 1: Pecha Kucha (Pe-chak-cha)

Slides: 20 
Speaking Time: 20 seconds per slide
Total Time: 6 minutes 40 seconds

Slides change automatically. You have to keep the pace constant and there’s no going back to a previous slide. This forces people to keep only the most important points in, eliminates redundancy and kills boredom.

Restrictions and rules force people to think creatively and to design their presentations. You don’t have the luxury to ramble on. Also, you’re forced to practice before you present—that makes all the difference. This format can be used in organisations to make key design presentations and so on. 

Sample Pecha Kucha presentation:

For more information on the format visit:


Format 2: Ted Talk Like Format
If the speakers are telling success stories that are awe inspiring, you don’t want to rush them, and you don’t want to allow them to talk forever.

This format will have the following requirements: 

  • Moderating who presents, and how they present 
  • Formal editing of the story and presentation practice
  • Setting the stage and using creative props
  • Creating an event around the presentations    
  • Packing a punch in the presentation by telling a story

Speaking Time: 15 minutes
While anyone can participate in a Pecha Kucha as long as you’re passionate and have a story to tell, Ted Talks present accomplishments of people who have done something extraordinary. Use this format in your organisation to share success stories.


Format 3: Interactive Presentations
Slides: 10 
Speaking Time: 30 seconds
Total Time: 5 minutes
Q&A Time: 5 minutes
Special Rule: In at least 5 slides the presenter should involve the audience in an interactivity like a question, a show of hands, a game, a response, a puzzle, a trick (it’s an ocean of possibilities). 

This format will ensure that the audience is as much on their toes as the speaker. Giving equal time to Q&A ensures that people can have a healthy discussion around what is presented. 


Borrow from Your Local Culture
Look around you. There’ll be local traditions of presentation. Use them in office. They’ll make people creative, and more candid. 

Format 4: Impromptu Responses
Slides: No PowerPoint or presentation tools, only narration
Rules: People present in teams. 

Speaking Time: Each team gets 5 minutes to sing/narrate a story/a poem/a script etc. and 5 minutes to compose a response. In the time that the next team composes, the first team answers questions.

In organizations this can work well where you fear that people don’t bring their human side to a presentation! It can be used to make employees more aware of local issues facing an organization or to make social causes meet song writing.

Local Association
In a small, sleepy town in Nothern India, a Hindu priest came up with the idea of the Jawabi Kirtan–A format in which teams of singers meet from all over, and the first team sings about a social topic for 45 minutes. The competing team gets 30 minutes to prepare (a song) in response to the first song. Although this was a leisure time activity, it made a lot of people aware about the social issues facing their region. 


Take Insipiration from Movies: Run Lola Run, Rashomon etc.

In the film Run Lola Run, Lola needs to arrange a huge sum of money in 20 minutes to save her boyfriend. Each decision that Lola makes/each event affects her story and the end outcome. Can we make a presentation format based on this?

Format 5: Different Routes – One Story

Theme: An issue with several paths to an end.
Rules: Create groups based on paths that each individual believes in.
Story telling: Each group tells the same story that follows a different path. They will have to logically support how the path will lead to a desired result. Groups are free to create their route with common elements with other teams.
Time: 6 minutes per team
Debate: 4 minutes debate time to argue about the problems opposing teams foresee on the path. 

Use this format where you feel that teams need to be able to see different perspectives and debate alternative paths to a solution. 

Go ahead and make your own creative formats. Don't forget to share them with us. 

References: Image of hypnotized people: By Nazareth College [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Free/Open Music, Images, Films, Books, & A Short Background of “Free”

People publish many resources like music, pictures, videos under different Creative Commons licenses, and several old pictures etc. have been freed into the public domain. Some public domain pictures, like the one below, are very intriguing. They give a glimpse into how the world was more than a hundred years back. And there's also a romantic association about these having been "freed" from copyright—like humans having learned to fly. 

I’ve had a “free” folder on my desktop, in which I’ve saved several “open source” resources (links to music, videos, images, books) over time. These come in handy for creating blog posts, courses, podcasts, videos and so on. I'm sharing some links from that folder in this post. Before that a bit on "free/open" resources.

Jess_Dixon_in_his_flying_automobileI've been using the terms "free" and "open" interchangeably. It was, however, only recently that I realized the bifurcation and the philosophical difference between “free” (as it relates to software) and “open source”. Here it is, from the father of the free movement, Richard Stallman: 

“These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just for the individual users' sake, but for society as a whole because they promote social solidarity—that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even more important as our culture and life activities are increasingly digitized. In a world of digital sounds, images, and words, free software becomes increasingly essential for freedom in general.” 

Free vs. Open from R. Stallman in this link:

And a beautiful talk on “people having the right to produce for the love of what they’re doing, and not for the money” from the architect of the Creative Commons license, Lawrence Lessig: 


Some resources: 

Music Resources

Good music can liven up your course, training, game whatever it is that you do in this industry. Match the music to the mood of the activity to create magic with these resources: 

Probably the most commonly known and used sites for CC music:

As the name suggests, for different kinds of remixed creative commons music, use:

A good stock of creative commons license with the license type clearly listed at the bottom of the page:


Image Resources

We all could do with free images in the e-learning circles. What’s amazing is that sometimes CC images are more candid and life like and communicate much better than the stock images that we pay to use. 

Easiest hack to find CC0 or CC images is to use Google Images – > Click Search Tools -> Select the Usage Rights that suit you best -> Look up the images and be sure to check the license and origin.

Some other image searches that work very well:
Creative Commons Search Engine

Aggregates open source images from several sources:

You can also search the resources listed in the Creative Commons search engine separately. 

This site has several CC0 license images, which means no attribution required and commercial use is possible: 

Icon Finder
Many icons here for free use:

Flickr has a large repository of free images and images under the CC license. Select your use type on the top left side and then search for images.

Wikimedia Commons
“A database of 27,090,353 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.”


Films and Books Resources

Prelinger Archives where thousands of films are archived and available for reuse.

Project Gutenberg: The aptly named archive has over 49,000 e-books available for download:

Do check the license in each of these resources before you use them. I would love to learn about more resources from you in the box below.    



Image of Attempt to Fly: Kobel Feature Photos (Frankfort, Indiana) / State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, via Wikimedia Commons