What with the semester winding down, I’ve been pretty bad about keeping up with the blogging that I promised to do, to keep my colleagues in SILS informed about what I’m up to here in Seattle. So here’s a quick update on my current major projects.
One: We’re relaunching the Metadata MOOC, Probably in mid-July. I’m very pleased and excited about this, because I’ve been contacted by email and Twitter, ever since the first round of the MOOC ended, by individuals asking when it will be re-launched. So I know there’s a pretty fair bit of interest out there.
It’s taken quite a long time to get this worked out, in part because of changes in staffing at Carolina. First of all, Kim Eke, the former Director of the ITS-TLI group (and my primary contact while I was developing the MOOC), recently left Carolina to become the Director of Teaching, Research & Learning Services at UPenn. Awesome for her, not so much for Carolina. With Kim gone, leadership of the MOOC initiative has been moved over to the Friday Center. There’s a whole discussion to be had about where a MOOC initiative should be located at a university, whether it makes more sense for it to be in a center for teaching and learning, or in the Continuing Ed unit of the university. But I don’t want to get into that discussion here. Maybe in another post. The point is, moving the MOOC initiative at Carolina from one unit to another seems to have slowed things down, at least with regards to the relaunch of my course. I can’t speak to the other MOOCs out of Carolina.
Also, Meredith, who was my TA for the first iteration of the MOOC, has graduated. Again, awesome for her, not so much for me… because the Carolina MOOC initiative does not have any funding for TAs for the second iteration of our courses. I hit up my dean for some funding for a TA, and he very generously has contributed support for 10 hours per week. Also, I’ve been in contact with one student who took the MOOC the first time around, who’s interested in being a Community TA. I’m hoping there will be more students interested in being Community TAs. Maybe I’ll even have more TA support on the second round then I had on the first! Maybe, but probably not. Still, I’m really looking forward to working with the Community TAs; we didn’t do that on the first round.
Two: I’m writing a book. On metadata, it should probably come as no surprise to learn. For the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. I’m very excited about this, for several reasons. First of all, it’s MIT Press. Do I really need to say anything else about that? MIT Press! Second, this will be my first book, so a shortish book seems to me like a good way to cut my teeth on book writing. And third, the “synthesizing specialized subject matter for nonspecialists” approach of the Essential Knowledge series is very appealing to me. In fact, that’s a large part of why I wanted to teach a MOOC in the first place: to introduce metadata, a specialized and fairly wonky subject matter, to a broad general audience. So I feel like this book provides a great venue for me to continue the work of the MOOC. And in fact it should come as no surprise to learn that the book is more or less a direct result of the MOOC: the editor of the Essential Knowledge series was a student in the first round of the Metadata MOOC.
Three: I’m on the organizing committee for the Innovation in Higher Education preconference of the International Communication Association annual conference… which is, conveniently, here in Seattle later this month. The preconference is being organized by the Oxford Internet Institute. My understanding — to be fair, indirectly inferred from conversations with other members of the organizing committee — is that the ICA has not, to date, had much to do with innovation in higher ed. But on the other hand, the OII is all about innovation online. So the OII is organizing this preconference, in part, to demonstrate to the ICA that this is a rich area that would be fruitful for them to pursue. And it is incredibly interesting stuff: take a look at the papers that will be presented at the preconference. Right in my wheelhouse: the future of MOOCs, the future of online education, evaluation and assessment. So I’m really looking forward to the preconference, and the ICA conference more generally. In fact, I’m wondering why I haven’t ever attended the ICA conference before. Clearly an oversight on my part.