Is George Siemens a MOOC-choir conductor?

Debbie has done a phenomenal job with the CCK11 final project video: I had goose bumps watching it. The message of the video is extremely powerful: technology enhances connections wherever we are. In her blog Debbie says that Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir “is the ultimate metaphor (and reality) of what can happen in the today’s networked world. The idea of people from all over the world collaborating with their voices to make stunning music…”

My question is: What does a choir have to do with a MOOC?

A choir is where everyone sings in tune the same tune under a direction of one person=1 conductor.  All eyes are looking in one direction, the conductor’s direction. One can’t be off-tune, can’t make a mistake, can’t be slower or have no musicality. All bodies must connect at the same nanosecond.

A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is where everyone sings a different tune under one’s own direction=multiple conductors. Participants are all different, have different voices and bring different experiences and perspectives; to learn we do not need to sing in tune with everyone else. The idea of a MOOC is that every individual takes responsibility for and ownership of their own tune: takes and gives so others can reformulate and sing their own tunes. They can learn at their own pace, be very active or just lurk.

My answer is: Not much really. The choir resembles a teacher-directed classroom, not a MOOC.

In my view both concepts are at the opposite ends of a spectrum. George Siemens is not a conductor. MOOC and unstructured learning have nothing to do with a choir per se.

Nonetheless, both concepts are great and accommodate diverse learners’ needs. Some learners need to have the total control of a teacher; others love the freedom of being able to decide how, where and when the learning happens for them. Both concepts are a celebration of learning and the music of the virtual choir instantly increases a listener’s motivation to act and be a part of this massive movement of XXI century digital learning.

I really like how Debbie has combined it all in her video to show how technology makes the global community connective; I will play it in my presentation next week at the TESL 2011 national conference in Halifax. My presentation is on networked EAL/ESL learning and the video fits in perfectly. Thanks Debbie!

One thought on “Is George Siemens a MOOC-choir conductor?

  1. Jaap says:

    Hi, your comment on the choir is nice, but you did hear just common choirs. In modern music the choir is not a party for a conductor, but the choir realy makes the music. So modern mooc resembles a moders choir, with many voices and rich in melodies and sounds.

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