ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Interacting as moderator and facilitator in the cope14 MOOC

Posted on: April 26, 2014

Today is the fifth day in our cope14 MOOC. As foreseen about 500 learners signed up for cope14, about 55% are students from our university of applied sciences. There is a great mix of learners coming from many different countries. A great part of them are (bachelor or master) students, some are teachers, others are busy in different fields of work.

There is a lot of activity on the website itself, 776 comments during the first 4 and a half days – and more than 1000 page views each day. I’m happy that so many learners feel up to make their learning public on the cope14 website. More than 100 learners joined the facebook community and Erika, its moderator, reports of many interactions. The fb community is public but the participants have to join it to post comments. The Google+ community, moderated by myself, is a closed community to give learners the opportunity to exchange their experiences in a protected room. About 30 learners choose this possibility.

My role in cope14 is to facilitate and to moderate learning processes (at least that’s my vision). In the cope14 team we aim to differentiate between the jobs of moderator (convener) and facilitator. Facilitators prepare the “virtual room”, in this case the websites of cope14 of the respective week. They give professional feedback to the topics of the week and attend the hangout at the end of his or her week. This means that most facilitators are active only in one week of cope14. The moderators accompany the learners during the whole 6 weeks. They monitor what’s happening on the diverse channels of cope14 (website, fb, g+, twitter, individual blogs), support the learners, acknowledge the learners’ efforts, and help the facilitators to get an overview of what’s happening.

Moderating with help of the learners list

Planning my role as moderator I asked myself if and how I would succeed to “moderate” learning processes of hundreds of learners. In my smaller learning groups (up to 30 learners) I’m happy to use lists of learners where I document their activities and add comments. In the cope14 MOOC I’m using a “learners’ list” as well (as I planned in my blog post of one month ago). It’s a A3 sheet with learner names at each side. I had to add the leaners who signed up after the start per hand. With a color code I visualize who is in the fb or g+ community, who writes in his or her own blog. Until now there’s no color for twitter as there are not so many tweets.


I’m amazed and of course very happy that this list is also working with so many learners. To search for the learner’s name, document the activity, and add a comment I “get to know” the learners a little bit. In my list I have already 109 active learners (without counting the activities in fb) – and I have a kind of overview of their interactions. I’m able to relate  some of the nicknames to the persons on my list, I fantasize about their personality when I read their very long or very short or funny or serious comments.

Learning in my role as facilitator

I learned a lot about the topics of week 1 “communication around borders: introduction and warm-up ” following the experiences and ideas of the learners. And I learned something new and unexpected – isn’t it great that our concept of emergent learning is working for me as well?

I know that many web users around the world are using google translate to understand texts written in a language unknown to them. As I’m a little bit snobbish I never use goggle translate and despise its translations. But … there are learners in cope14 who came from countries who do not use Latin characters. Their name sometimes are in characters which I cannot read. So I could not identify the learner and I hated it. Therefore I decided to use google translate. I copied a sequence of beautiful but not readable characters into google translate – and got a translation into Latin characters (and learned that the originals were in Russian and Thai). I was really very impressed by the capacity of my laptop to be able to copy these characters and bye the capacity of google to read and translate it. So the cope14 MOOC helped me already in the first week to become less snobbish!

5 Responses to "Interacting as moderator and facilitator in the cope14 MOOC"

Hi Jutta – I am amazed that you are trying to keep track of all your cope14 learners and intrigued to see how you are hoping to do this. Are you keeping track of your hours, i.e. the hours you spend doing this? I think this would be very useful information for other MOOC conveners who place a high emphasis on learner support.

And just to let you know that I use Google translate often. I think it has improved in recent years. I used it to translate your September conference information 🙂

Hi Jenny – I’m really amazed that my approach works until now. Let’s see how the MOOC will develop and how many learners will be active at the end.
And, no, I do not keep track of my hours. But maybe I should …
will give it a try, Bye, Jutta

Hi Jutta

It’s fascinating to see your colour coded mapping of activity holding up for a 100 or so learners – I must confess I thought it might swamp you and take too much time to transfer this to larger groups. My own small group tracking process didn’t transfer in moderating Martin Weller’s mooc last year so this is especially interesting. I found I needed the tools such as ‘forum search’ and something to list forum participants by name with their number of threads started or posts replied to, as the OU team have now made available and which I use in other large group Moodle forums (~3000 participants). What tools do you have available and how do you make use of these?

It’s good to see a MOOC with the courage to offer a closed group to newer MOOC learners too – breaking boundaries in its own way! Look forward to hearing how this works and if they later feel they are happy to ‘go open’. Again, on the h817open MOOC, whilst many participated in open forums, some of the registered students retreated to their closed tutor group forums after a couple of weeks. The ‘open’ and ‘closed’ students both benefitted, but do appear to have had different learning experiences.

I agree with Jenny about recording your time taken, Jutta, I think that would be enormously useful to MOOC planners and designers who have mostly not worked such a role. Particularly as you are also demonstrating and exploring the role of the moderator in this environment and what might be achieved through good use of this role.

Thanks for sharing this Jutta, enormously helpful insight.
PS – I routinely use Google translate for reading blogs too

Hi Paige!
Our MOOC is a normal wordpress blog, so I’m using the possibilities wordpress is giving me.
I start at the webpage looking for contributions, to get the context of the postings – and then in the role of administrator I look for the name in the comments list using “search” as there are already 46 pages of comments … I need this control to identify the learners. and in this way I see all the comments of the individual learner and check it with the annotations in my learners’ list.
I don’t like statistical data so much, I need it to invest some time to color the users, make my annotations, search for their name – in this way I kind of connect to them.
And, yes, I’m documenting my hours now – you know I’m not convinced that I want to know them in detail …
Bye, Jutta

[…] Pauschenwein, Jutta. “Interacting as moderator and facilitator in the cope14 MOOC“. […]

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