Tuesday, October 6, 2015

McGill “GROOC” Changes the Face of Online Learning

A very interesting piece written by Jessica Xiao, one of our Community Facilitators. She speaks about some participants, teams, and facilitators. 

McGill “GROOC” Changes the Face of Online Learning

A short two weeks after launch day, McGill University’s Social Learning for Social Impact GROOC (a MOOC for groups), is already proving to have far-reaching implications for the future of online learning. It pioneers a highly self-aware pedagogy designed to combat the challenges of distance teamwork and dispels the idea that academia must be detached from reality—in this GROOC, course participants form teams and collaborate through a process of experiential learning of six sessions (Engaging, Co-Creating, Designing, Scaling, Resourcing, and Assessing) that brings them closer to débuting their own social initiatives in the seventh session’s “Impact Gallery.”

There are currently over 6800 students registered with 10 percent who have already formed or join a team in topics ranging from arts and culture to education and economic equality, environment and health to unconventional and out-of-the-box. Participants are strongly motivated by a number of passions:

·       “…I’ve spent much of my career studying the behavior of consumers and I’m curious to identify ways of turning such a robust force into positive change.” – Dan Walls, Design Director at KNOCK, Minneapolis, USA

·       “…Soon, I’ll be working on a thesis about how to empower social networks to maximize the effects of social initiatives…” – Alejandra Talavera, Public Relations Volunteer at World Vision, Peru

·       “I am from syria living as refugee with my family since 4 years in iraq. i am trying to set up a school for the children in the camp between the syrian and iraqian border. [sic]” – Khaniwar Ali (Save the Syrian Refugees in Iraq team)

·       “I’m originally from Slovakia, but am currently working as a lawyer for the National Agroforestry Union in Costa Rica.…I would like to spread a new wave of environmental peace around the globe.” – Lubi Guindon

·       “In June of this year, I resigned from a wealth management firm, where I worked as a sales executive for ten years.…I am still in the for-profit sector, at least for today. And what I’m trying to do is change ‘for profit’ to ‘for profit and for good.’” – Bjorn

·       “I joined this organization with the passionate belief that by galvanizing a community of supportive Canadians, we can transform our collective efforts into a powerful social movement.” – Jeff Moat, Partners for Mental Health, Canada

·       “I have an interest in transforming societal views about crime and violence, and want to have a serious, informed debate on these subjects so that we can look for real, non-violent solutions for people who are suffering.” – Edgardo Amay, advisor on criminal justice and public safety for the government of El Salvador

Another key component to students’ success is the appointing of volunteer facilitators trained to foster community and provide guidance to ensure students are participating at their level of engagement and ability. Facilitators range from advanced university students passionate about social issues to experienced practitioners working in the plural sector who volunteer for a multitude of reasons, as evident in their bios for the course:

·       “I’m very curious about community building, on and offline. I’m excited to be a member of the McGillx Social Learning for Social Impact GROOC MOOC facilitator team and look forward to learning from, and supporting, this amazing global network of change makers.” – Deborah Hinton, Partner at Hinton and Co., mentor to Myko, Turning Point Montreal, and Le Salon 1861

·       “Being raised in Colombia and having cross-cultural communication skills drag me to have special interest for social initiatives towards the developing world. I am passionate about working in team environments where we can all learn from each other; always aspiring that the only and greatest possible outcome is to become a better version of ourselves to offer our surroundings.”Laura Cardenas, industrial relations student at McGill University

·       As she is constantly balancing herself between being a bookworm and a scientist, she seeks ways and platforms where the combination of information literacy and science technology can benefit the society at various levels.” – Yingshan Gu, recent masters graduate from McGill University’s Library and Information Studies

·       “Having spent most of his life in Nigeria, Charles was directly impacted by Massive Open Online Courses and thus feels honoured to be a part of delivering quality education to the world through the Social Learning for Social Impact GROOC.” – Charles Onu, Jeanne Sauvé Fellow and founder of Ubenwa

Perhaps key to understanding the personality of this course is within Desautels Faculty of Management professor and head creator of the GROOC Henry Mintzberg’s reaction to participants who want to create a team larger than the max 10 allowed: “You can beat us, the whole idea is to beat us….Beat the system….We can plot with you to beat the system.”

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