Week four in the Connected Courses MOOC delved into the origins of the Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC) in the FemTechNet academic community.
The founders of the FemTechNet group were feeling constrained by the individualized MOOC format:
- A forming principle of a several dominant MOOC “brands” (e.g. Coursera, Ed-Ex, etc.)
- One institutional or personal sponsor related to the originator of the MOOC idea (see my teaching institution example)
- A prescribed student audience with one class of qualifications, like a closed wiki, which limits universal use of the learning materials and easy adaptation of results.
- Instructors with closely aligned professional or institutional bonds, stopping short of broader collaboration.
- Broader theoretical exploration limited by institutional or MOOC “brand” boundaries.
As a new genre of networked learning, the advantages over existing MOOC formats include:
- The organization of a DOCC addresses the collaborative nature of learning in our digital age, our always online and connected anywhere in multiple simultaneous platforms.
- DOCCs are built on acknowledging that expertise is distributed throughout a network, among participants situated in diverse institutional contexts, within diverse material, geographic, and national settings, and with diverse roles for organizers.
- There is no single credit granting institution.
- Credit is contextually offered to students through local campus mechanisms that are already established.
DOCCing Information Literacy
The education of teaching librarians that produce information literacy training is one opportunity to think about considering the broad networked expertise nature of the DOCC platform. Most librarians are already familiar with wiki sites as a static way to share documents, links, or techniques. The shorter-term nature of the DOCC might bring together affiliates from a variety of professional organizations like ALA, MLA, the National Library of China, etc.with their own particular take on literacy and competence with information to focus on a particular broad goal.
A second way to think of how the DOCC model might produce a better experience than a MOOC would be for several partnered academic institutions to leverage their most effective information literacy teachers and offer a common segment of information literacy training as a common core lesson at all schools. All of the students at the partnered institutions would access common centralized and scheduled elements, yet also have their local ability to award credit. For instance, my own institution offers “co-curriculum” credit for optional activities, and I myself have been able to award this credit for one series of library literacy classes. Another partner institution might include the DOCC course as a substitute for a library lecture in academic classes. This is the whole point of the DOCC: diversity, not shoehorn every aspect into one MOOC template.