This Sunday morning I have spent a couple of hours looking at the many comments made on my Pinterest board that keep floating in: my mailbox is being filled with e-mails about re-pinning, liking, new followers and adding comments. This has been overwhelming, a fantastic spin-off for my MOOC activity this week. I now feel some responsibility towards this activity, offering some comments to comments made… no doubt adding further expansion to discussion and connectivity.
The week so far of ‘May the MOOC be with you‘…..
I decided to follow a single topic of postings in the Coursera discussion forum which was a reflection on ‘Education of the very best sort – reflecting the nature of the MOOC’
I used Pinterest as I had already started a board for this module and it seemed to make sense to develop a portfolio of activities. But rather than just pinning, I decided to turn it into a diary for the week, building up the pins as the discussion progresses and offering a reflection of the many opinions aired on the topic of MOOCs.
I deliberately amended my technique for using Pinterest in that I pinned the source image (still keeping a reference to the url, for copyright purposes) and images were selected on the basis of their visual power to illustrate the MOOC comments. This, I guess, is outwith the Pinterest Board’s purpose, but I thought I would try this as an experiment.
Although the Pinboard is highly visual, getting an overview of the various comments made for a whole week is not straightforward. It is clear that checking this activity may be time consuming, and although some of the comments made are positive in using this platform in such an idiosyncratic way, if indeed comments from hundreds of MOOCers float in, it would make the board utterly unmanageable.
Another side-effect of this activity is the aggregation of my online actions: having the Pinboard linked to my google mail account, I receive constant updating. Having this fed into my mobile phone, means that even when I am walking around during the day, away from the desktop, I am interacting, engaging with this platform, illustrating the pervasiveness of such activity.
What is clear is that this activity is highly participatory, which may offer an insight into opinions (bearing in mind the highly pre-selected stance though). For instance, not all pins received a comment. Indeed, one pin which is close to my (Flemish) heart is relating to the use of the English language:
Comment made on Thursday: ‘I can share information with other teachers who are not bilingual, and still learn about what is going on. I also share with the ones who are fluent in english and they benefit with all the new tools that I have found so far’ (from the post by Irma Guzman Calderón); the power of the MOOC is passing on knowledge to those who may not have access, in a language other than English.’ This pin so far has not received any comments, although it did get 3 likes, and 3 re-pins
And a pin made on Wednesday so far has been totally ignored:
Wednesday: Use MOOCs to teach calculus might greatly improve pass rate (from Michael Colucci post)
Could it be that the MOOC students for this course or less science focused?
Overall, the pinterest board discussions illustrate the multimodality and the various directions one can take, purposefully responding to comments, but also as part of a flaneur e-drift. The liking, re-pinning may give the impression of a casual activity. However, research into the underlying facts and figures would be required to support any further observations.
My own observation in the context of discourse regarding MOOCs is on the subject of authorship. Where does the intellectual property reside when new ideas are emerging? How can one offer references to materials discussed, to the original concepts, the scholarly aspect of this activity. If we are to develop new online platforms for such academic activity, how to we deal with these diffuse spaces?
Finally… I was quite impressed by all of us on the course going for different platforms and this has extended my understanding of the visuality one can develop in presenting a discourse on the topic of the module. I have decided to experiment with all the platforms to prepare for further coursework.