MOOC and Cookies

I finished the MOOC I enrolled in. Generalizing from one course to draw conclusions about the medium (MOOCs) makes little sense. However, I can see the truth in the observation that the medium is geared toward the highly motivated and the self-directed. Some critics see the low completion percentages as evidence of inherent weakness in the medium. Maybe so, but it also could simply mean that the low barrier to entry is encouraging lots of people to stick their toes in, which isn’t all bad.

A MOOC, like any other course, is going to be as good or as bad as the design team makes it. In this particular case, I would have liked if the course had gone deeper or been more rigorous, or more imaginative. I generally failed to opt in to the “creative task of the week.” I think they got the last one right, though.

The course itself was about the “Future of Storytelling.” The final assignment was to submit our physical address. In return, we got the addresses of three classmates. Our task was to send each of them a postcard with an original story. I like this assignment on a few different levels.

  • We think of technology as ideal for connecting a storyteller with the largest possible audience. This assignment turns that on its head and connects us to individual strangers. Perhaps the future of storytelling is not connecting elite storytellers work ever wider audiences; perhaps the future of storytelling is about making us all into storytellers.
  • The story forces us to condense, to be precise, raising issues of the value of tiny stories and delightful moments versus more traditional storytelling.
  • I appreciate the gentle irony that in a class about the future of storytelling, we are sending stories via the postal system.

I sent out my tiny stories last weekend.


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