Humble Ideas for Innovating the #IMMOOC Experience

Nodes and Clusters in IMMOOC

I am appreciating elements of the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC (IMMOOC) just fine.I’m mid-way through the book. I’ve read a lot of blog posts, added comments to spark my own thinking, and tried my hand at some various collaborative efforts.  Some of those collaborations have drawn some interest; Others, not so much.

It’s interesting. Given that our whole topic is “innovation,” I remain hopeful that the MOOC itself would begin to shift into more innovative practices. This is no knock to George Couros or Katie Martin, but sheer numbers alone don’t make innovation. Still, they did post this question for the coming week:

Our goal through this process was to really tap into how we can “empower” you through this process, not simply engage. What are your thoughts on this? Would love to hear what you think.

How we participants engage in the IMMOOC … that’s the key. Just as one central message among blog posts and weekly Hangouts is that teachers need to be innovative in order to help students become innovative, MOOCs have to be innovative if they want educators to become innovative so their students become innovative. If I add another layer — school administrators  (and there are lots of them in the IMMOOC) — into that mix, the loop might leap right off the page.

In hopes of sparking some possibilities, then, I offer up some suggestions for moving the IMMOOC towards more a potentially innovative experience.

  • I have appreciated the weekend Hangout Sessions, particularly later on as I listen and annotate in Vialogues, but it has felt a bit like we’re replicating the old model of teachers (George and Katie) talking to a room of students (us). They talk (with guests they line up and with include questions from the community) and we listen. What about if they openly invited about six to eight IMMOOC participants into the Hangout, and let those folks talk.  Put out an open Google Doc. Let folks invite themselves to be guests. Maybe crowdsource themes. Discuss. Look to Teachers Teaching Teachers as a model. Or the Make with Me sessions in Connected Learning MOOC (which I was part of). Allow participants to be the center and the voice of the experience.
  • What about if Writer George and Publisher Dave put an entire chapter of his book, Innovator’s Mindset, online, and we were all invited to annotate it, using Hypothesis. A rich conversation could unfold in the margins, as we celebrated and pushed back on ideas around innovation. The conversation could drift from George to the community (with George and Katie in the margins, too … wouldn’t it be neat to ask George questions about lines and passages in the text, with the text as the text and the author as participant?).
  • How about if we created short interactives using the site Answer Garden. We could feature two interactive word gardens with two opposite questions: “Innovation looks like …” and “Innovation does NOT look like …” and our responses would be pulled together into one visual Word Cloud experience? It would draw us together.
  • Could we create a Padlet where folks could share their best practices in innovation? I know many are doing this on their blogs (which can be hard to find) and on Twitter (where sharing comes and goes). We could collaboratively create one central resource, built over time, would be valuable to all of us, and into the future. It could live on beyond the IMMOOC. People could just share links to blog posts, so the work involved would not be too much. It would be a gift from us to us to others.
  • Is there any way to consider an innovative culminating event for the IMMOOC? (Note: George and Katie may already have this in mind.) Could we collaboratively write a shared post about the experience, with a nod to where we all go from here and how we help others along the way? (It could start in Google Docs and flow to a blog post at the main site).

Again, this is not criticism for what has been happening so far. Obviously, people are engaged. Some people are writing their first blog post ever. Others are trying new things. George and Katie probably have their hands full. This would not have to fall on them to do.

Real MOOCs don’t rely on the facilitators. Real MOOCs rely on the participants. WE could all do it. YOU could do some of it. It would be a SHARED adventure.

It seems to me that the theme of “innovative practice” should be represented in a learning space that calls itself the Innovator’s Mindset. Let’s harness the digital tools for collaboration so that we all learn and move ahead together.

Peace (in all spaces),


  1. Hey Kevin…thanks for the ideas! We have encouraged participants to start their own spaces and share their own ideas through this process. I know you started a Google Plus space, and someone has led a Voxer discussion, which I know has gained a lot of traction.

    The idea is that people are creating through this process, and for many participants, this is their first “MOOC” experience. This is my first time leading this, and it has been amazing to see what people have created and the connections they have made with one another. The purpose of the process was to A) get people thinking about innovation in education, B) have them connect with one another, and C) create and make connections to their own learning. I would definitely say that we are not at 100% (many people have not participated that initially signed up but that is expected), but I have seen some awesome conversations, going beyond what we had intentionally hoped.

    One thing that we need to realize is that content is not obsolete. Just like I would have zero problem with a teacher lecturing, I think there is some value in doing a google hangout. We are trying to keep it short, but also expose the ideas of people that some others might not know, that are doing amazing things. You can see from the reaction to Kaleb last night, that this has been hugely beneficial.

    Now if ALL that was happening was people were meant to listen to us, we haven’t done our job. I believe that the connections people make on their own to information is where the real learning happens. I am sure you picked that up from reading the book.

    I love some of the ideas that you have shared, but I also encourage you to continue to start some of them on your own. We wanted to put ourselves there with this first time process, but are definitely looking at growing it as well because of the response that people have had.

    Something that I always remind myself is that what is the norm to you, might be innovative to someone else, but also sometimes overwhelming to others. There are lots of different experiences brought into this space. That’s why we wanted to focus on people creating so that they could lead their own learning, not count on someone delivering solely to them.

    Thanks again for the ideas and sharing your thoughts!

    • Thanks for taking the time to respond, George. You are right — we all come at innovative ideas from different angles, different experiences … and we need to respect that every experience is different. The conversations have been interesting. I hope it goes to the next level for everyone. I am always trying to think, collaboration expands our collective learning experiences. And yes, I could launch any/all of these right now but I won’t. Maybe I will sprinkle something later. I hope others step up, too, and invite us in.

  2. Hi Kevin,
    Those are amazing ideas and exactly what we would hope to see participants do in the IMMOOC. Our goal has always been to inspire educators to connect and create new and better ideas.

    We have intentionally kept it open to allow for participants to generate ideas that make the most sense for them based on their learning goals, interests, and context. If we were to standardize the process and assignments, we felt we would stifle creativity and limit the ideas of the group and even ostracize those who didn’t feel their style of learning was honored.

    For example, I have seen amazing sketch notes, blog posts, videos and your contributions that have brought people together beyond what I could have constructed alone.

    I love your ideas and I wonder how you might have felt as a participant/learner, if we had “required” you to annotate a document or share on a Padlet rather than provided the opportunity for you to find a tool that meets your needs as a learner?

    I love what you said at the end. “Real MOOCs don’t rely on the facilitators. Real MOOCs rely on the participants. WE could all do it. YOU could do some of it. It would be a SHARED adventure”. This is our hope too. We don’t want the ideas to be limited by what we know or do but to leverage the collective expertise of the group. Thanks for sharing your ideas and I look forward to seeing what gets created and how better ideas are generated thanks to your ideas and those of others.

    • Hi Katie
      Thanks for responding. As always, you and George are engaging people in discussions. I didn’t mean to suggest that any of these, or any other ideas, would be required. Far from it. This ain’t Coursera (thankfully). Everything is always an option, and our mantra in the CLMOOC is “YOU are at the center of the MOOC.” I believe the more doors there are to open, the people will open more doors, I guess.

  3. Hi Kevin,
    Thank you for the way you share your knowledge and experiences with the IMMOOC community. I really like the way you suggest different ways we could take this experience and grow it even further.
    This is my first IMMOOC experience and I am learnjng a lot from the amazing George and Katie and the passionate guests they have on the Google Hangouts each week. Participating in this collaborative forum has pushed me to begin my own blog and twitter account and share what I am doing, seeing, hearing, learning with others. At this point in my learning the way the IMMOOC has been structured has been perfect for me. However, just like with any group of students we teach, each learner has different needs and comes to us at different entry points. That’s the beauty of differntiation. Although in this case it’s not the facilitators that need to differentiate it for us but we should be using this platform to push ourselves to try new things and collaborate with others in innovative and unique ways. I really appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for education and look forward to seeing where you take this.


    • Thank you, Alice. Your comments are appreciated, and I am grateful this MOOC has allowed our paths to cross. My aim is that we all help each other move forward, so that none of us are moving alone. But it’s not Boolean Logic, either. There’s a lot of middle ground in how people experience learning in a MOOC. I certainly did not mean it to be a criticism of either George or Katie. I just think there might be ways to take the collaborative adventure into other avenues. We’ll see …

  4. Hey Kevin!

    Great ideas, I totally get what you are saying! The question was posed and you humbly answered with some great ways to make this an innovative experience! Blogging opens up a vulnerability vein like no other, huh? I learned about tools I’ve never heard of while reading your blog and I will mess with them and see if they would be a medium for my elementary students to use as part of their experiences in the library. This MOOC has been interesting, I am a teacher-librarian, listening to leaders and how they try to grow teachers is interesting, I am trying to frame it to apply to my students. Keep sharing, I enjoy your writing, ideas and tech knowledge!

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