Getting started with Bonk’s “Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success”

I’ve been teaching at least some of my classes online since 2005 and I’ve been using various other online tools (what I’ve heard described as “blended” learning, whatever that means) for a lot longer than that.  But I’ve never taken an online class before, and I haven’t exactly done a lot of studying of online pedagogy, certainly not from the perspective of education scholars.  So when I read about Curtis Bonk’s Massively Open Online Course about teaching online, I figured what the heck?  I signed up.

It’s very very early, of course.  The class technically doesn’t start until Monday.  But there are already a couple of things that give me, well, pause.

First, there’s the introductions part of the class, which is basically 1200 or so different people posting a message that says “hi, my name is…” with not much other interaction.  How could there be, really?

Second, Bonk posted this introduction that comes across to me as, well, goofy:

I’ve been known to make a few attention-getting and goofy videos for my online classes too, but there sure seems to be a lot of props here.  But hey, who knows?  Bonk has a fist full of articles and books on online pedagogy and somebody must think he knows what he’s talking about or he wouldn’t be doing this at all.

Third, I think Bonk signals here a bit as to what Blackboard’s interest in this whole MOOC thing is all about.  As Bonk explains in this video (at about the 9 minute mark), week 5 is going to feature the folks from Blackboard coming on the site to more or less explaining all the “cool” Blackboard tools we’ve been using.  Now, I don’t know if this is what’s going to happen, but it sounds like the angle here is Blackboard is going to try to sell us on Blackboard, sort of like the way that textbook companies try to sell faculty on their textbooks and other products.   Which again makes me think that this whole MOOC thing is mostly a marketing stunt.

Skeptic that I am, we’ll press onward.


4 thoughts on “Getting started with Bonk’s “Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success””

  1. I share your concerns, though maybe I shouldn’t call them concerns. It’s more that I wonder what benefits are drawbacks will emerge from the course and the tools that are being used. I already see plenty of room for improvement in the tools and how they are tied together. There is little in there for the social grouping necessary in a giant class like this.

    However, as for Dr. Bonk’s introduction, that is his norm. He is goofy, it’s his style. He dressed as Darth Vader for a keynote in Madison a couple years ago. It’s just to disarm. He’s a smart guy with a lot of good ideas. The challenge is to organize those ideas in a way that will be easy for mass participants to benefit from.

    I look forward to the experiment.

  2. Thanks so much for your first impressions of the course and for staying open to the experience. I am on the CourseSites team and would like to address a couple of your immediate concerns. I completely understand your skepticism and deeply respect your willingness to stay open. I only hope that your personal outcome of the course will lead you to a different perspective.
    CourseSites is a FREE tool for instructors. This open course provides a model for how an instructor could use CourseSites for their open education initiatives. We not only want CourseSites to be a free tool but we wanted to elevate it to a platform that we could provide a gathering of community for people to learn and share together about teaching and learning online. I am very grateful to Dr. Bonk to provide his time and expertise to guide this experience.
    Also, this a self-guided experience, so everyone will gain something different from it. Please check out some of the groups that are forming to make more meaningful connections with people in the course. We are working on a daily basis to continue to evaluate what we can do to make it even better. We are all learning as we go. Please keep the feedback coming!

    1. Sarah, just to be clear here: Bonk is being paid for this, right? I assume that what is going on here is that Blackboard/CourseSites is paying him to lead this MOOC– and I don’t hold that against him because I generally don’t work/teach for free either.

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