MOOC metaphor: Traveling to Venice #edcmooc

This week the EDC MOOC instructors asked us to think about e-learning and metaphor. I’m thinking specifically about MOOCs in this post.

Being in a MOOC (or maybe it’s just this one) reminds me of my honeymoon trip to Venice last summer in the following ways.

1. There is an overwhelming amount of information so you have to make choices.

When trying to find a hotel in Venice, you will quickly realize that there are hundreds of small hotels and a dizzying array of options and things to consider. In this class, there is similar information overload and one must decide what one’s priorities are in picking a hotel (orienting to the course).

2. You are probably going to feel lost at some point.

Get over it. Venice is a maze of streets and nooks and little alleyways. You are going to get lost in them. The important thing is that getting lost is part of the point because you don’t know what you will find and it might be great. It will challenge you to enjoy the walk (and there’s plenty of that in Venice and metaphorically in the MOOC) rather than being concerned with “outcomes” or the itinerary.

3. This is not like other courses. Venice is not like other cities.

In Venice, everything is water/boat oriented. There are no cars. You have to think differently about getting around. Similarly, in a MOOC, this is a different mode of learning than you are probably accustomed to or have experienced before. Go with the flow. Don’t fight it.

4. Be sure to stop for wine and snacks.

Breaks are okay. You can only look at so many churches/buildings/pieces of art before you end up on overload with tired feet. Make your own pace and don’t let anyone else define your learning. You’ll get as much or as little as you want. If that means you need to stop for a metaphorical (or literal) glass of wine and separate from the discussion forums/blogs/twitter feeds because it’s all a blur, do it. You can still think deep thoughts about digital culture if you’re separated from the digital tools.

That’s my impression so far.


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