And speaking of the Mechanical MOOC…

…that Philipp Schmidt helped design, we’ve just received permission to share a preprint of this paper, Hei Mookie! Where do I start? The Role of Artifacts in an Unmanned MOOC (PDF 333KB), by Marisa Ponti, Postdoctoral Researcher in Department of Applied IT at Chalmers University – University of Gothenburg in Sweden.  She takes a look at the role of digital artifacts in the Mechanical MOOC model.  The paper is to be published in the Proceedings of the 47th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences  The abstract:

Three artifacts were examined in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Mechanical because there is no professor to offer the course. Employing the notion of inscription from actor-network theory, the analysis focuses on the action of facilitation embedded in these artifacts and the ways in which these actions unfold. Using online ethnography, this study attempts to explicate how the designers have delegated facilitation to these objects. The findings suggest that the artifacts play a distinct role in enacting forms of facilitation and sustaining the course without teaching presence. They indicate that the artifacts do not play simply an intermediary role, but work to redistribute facilitation and reformulate social relations. While online courses have relied primarily upon teachers, with the increased size and technological interdependence of this MOOC, the examined artifacts apparently remove the need for exposure to teachers, by providing participants with peer interactions and automated coordination and testing. Read the full paper (PDF 333KB).

P2PU is just wrapping up the final week of the fifth offering of the Mechanical MOOC “A Gentle Introduction to Python,” with several hundred of the initial 3,000 students participating.

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