Bodong Chen

Crisscross Landscapes

Top Links from the MOOC Research Conference Twitter Backchannel (#MRI13)


The MOOC Research Conference has just taken place at University of Texas, Arlington, December 5-6, 2013. I was fortunate to be on board of one research project – “Hatch, Match, and Dispatch: Examining the relationship between student intent, expectations, behaviours and outcomes in six Coursera MOOCs at the University of Toronto” – which was among the 20+ MRI projects participating in this MOOC Research Conference. Chris Teplovs, Stian Håklev and Laurie Harrison from our team attended the conference in person, and they were surprised by an Icepocalyse in that area. Some people said it might be because too many Canadians were present at the conference (which is quite convincing :-P).

Although I was not able to attend the conference, I had a lot of fun following its “backchannel” on Twitter. The discussion took off one day before the conference (there were pre-conference workshops) and climbed to its peak during the first day, featured by the Jim Groom‘s keynote. The backchannel produced a total of 1894 tweets, with 394 contributors.


Here, I am pulling together a list of top URLs (up until now) shared in this discussion, just to highlight a few things I think that might be interesting to think of. This is by no means to say there links represent the key messages of the conference, but by reviewing them we may get a glimpse of main issues discussed during the conference. These top links are organized into a few themes below.

General debates around MOOCs

1. MOOCs as Neocolonialism: Who Controls Knowledge? [33 hits]

2. Siemens’ take on “The ‘failure’ of MOOCs” [32 hits]

Here's @gsiemens on "the failure of MOOCs" #mri13

— Alec Couros (@courosa) December 4, 2013
**Siemens astutely compares the MOOC conversation to the Web 2.0 explosion [7 hits]**

@gsiemens astutely compares the MOOC conversation to the Web 2.0 explosion, for good and ill. #mri13

— Mike Caulfield (@holden) December 4, 2013

3. How media and practitioners differ in their view of MOOCs [10 + 9 hits]

How media and practitioners differ in their view of MOOCs #mri13

— Dave Jarrat (@djarrat) December 6, 2013

How MOOCs are covered in popular press. #mri13 study

— Dave Jarrat (@djarrat) December 5, 2013

4. The Battle for Open - an article by Weller [11 hits]

5. What MOOCs have provided us? [14 hits]

What MOOCs have provided us with from @gsiemens #mri13

— Alec Couros (@courosa) December 4, 2013

6. Voices saying that “MOOCs kinda suck”

To MOOC or not to MOOC?- a blog post by Jonathan Rees [11 hits]

What problem do MOOCs solve? - another blog post by Jonathan Rees [7 hits]

MOOCs and learning analytics

1. Certifying the Hard Stuff (and the role of learning analytics), by Simon Buckingham Shum [9 hits]

2. Group Discussion Summaries during the conference - Google Docs  [8 hits]

MOOC platforms

1. What should the next LMS look like? [20 hits]

2. MOOC Platforms : a primer - biggies, newbies & freebooters, a blog post by Donald Clark [7 hits]

3. Learning and Performance Support Systems [5 hits]

4. Learning2014 - UTS - YouTube [6 hits]

Hatch, Match and Dispatch

Finally, our group’s presentation about Hatch, Match and Dispatch was also among the list of top links (7 hits). Like other projects, our work shared at the conference was still in progress. And I am really excited about our next steps to move this research project forward.

If you wish to explore the Twitter archive by yourself, you can use the web app here. You can filter tweets by keywords or people you’re interested in. You can explore people’s sentiments of MOOCs by checking out the “happiest” and “saddest” tweets. You can also find and follow the “talkers” in this backchannel conversation…