Academics (and others) Assemble! Making a MOOC team

I was recently asked by a colleague what my recommendations would be for an ideal MOOC project team, and how long would it take to make a MOOC. My initial response was “Hundreds (of staff) and Thousands (of hours)”.

medium_7946436848I’m still thinking over the serious response but for now I offer a tongue-in-cheek overview of a ‘perfect’ MOOC team based on the Avengers, since developing a MOOC of any kind appears to require superhuman efforts. Any resemblance to any actual MOOC contributor, at any institution, is purely coincidental. Photo credit: PatLoika via photopin cc

Captain America

A committed lead academic with a strong vision of the project. Absolutely essential and a major determinant in success. Often taking on the challenge of MOOC development in addition to many other commitments; additional super powers that would be useful are time travel or ability to be in two to three places at once.

Bruce Banner/the Hulk
We aren’t talking impromptu wardrobe malfunctions or bouts of rage here. This is postdoctoral support. A keen mind with detailed knowledge of the subject of the MOOC and, really importantly, a powerhouse of backup for the whole team. Short term (and if possible full time for a few weeks) they can provide written materials, help manage the wider faculty-based team, recommend filming locations (and appear on camera), locate suitable online links and further materials, and provide social media input.

Innovation and technical support. Not just limited to multimedia production, this is where the role of learning designer can come into play too. This isn’t just about providing cool stuff for the sake of it. Robust tools that enhance the online learning experience are essential. But then, there’s some very cool stuff out there…

A god. An otherwise other-worldly power from a higher plane of existence. You’ll need one. Ideally in the form of senior Faculty management. The more project meetings they can attend the better. Someone who understands the differing needs and cultures of both the faculty and the institution, and who can employ use of a godly hammer in a friendly fashion when required.

Black Widow
A S.H.I.E.L.D agent. In this analogy, this agency represents the institution’s central services. Black Widow in a MOOC team is your marketing officer. MOOCS are marketing, although it might be marketing the field of study rather than the institution. MOOCS aren’t (and shouldn’t come across as) an out and out recruitment tool. Learners don’t like it, unless the subject of the MOOC is clearly related; ‘How to study in HE’ for example. Also, many MOOCS are darned expensive to produce. Social media can be cheap. A good marketing strategy, developed early with input from the team is essential to getting the word out there and building a community before the course even launches.

In this case, your librarian/legal services representative. Someone with who can negotiate the mire of copyright and licensing with pinpoint accuracy. It will save so much time in the long run, and means that you won’t have to pull that oh-so-vital resource at a late stage when you discover the subtle nuances of use of Creative Commons in combination with your chosen platform.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s