Giving Compass' Take:

• The author examines why and how educators can build more intimate online learning platforms.  MOOCs are useful but still feel like lecture halls and are not conducive for deeper learning and engagement. 

• How can educators that do not teach online courses help contribute ideas to better the online spaces? 

• Read about how MOOCs have impacted the approach to student learning. 

Most of our energy has been focused on designing physical learning spaces, even as more teaching and learning shifts online. Unfortunately, most massive open online course (MOOC) platforms still feel like drafty lecture halls instead of intimate seminar rooms.

The majority of online learning environments are no more than video-hosting platforms with quizzes and a discussion forum. These default features force online instructors to use a style of teaching that feels more like shouting to the masses than engaging in meaningful conversations.

This presents a challenge and an opportunity: How can we design online learning environments that achieve scale and intimacy? How do we make digital platforms feel as inviting as well-designed physical classrooms?

If the first wave of MOOCs was about granting unprecedented numbers of students access to high-quality teaching and learning materials, Wave 2 needs to focus on creating a sense of intimacy within that massiveness.

We need to be building platforms that look less like a cavernous stadium and more like a honeycomb. This means giving people small chambers of engagement where they can interact with a smaller, more manageable and yet still diverse groups.

In creating online learning platforms, we scaled the equivalent of open schools without first learning how to build classrooms. Yet, I still have not been able to find an out-of-the-box online learning platform that offers this palette of instructional features that can serve course designers and students at scale.

What will it take to get MOOC platforms to begin to offer learning spaces that feel more inviting and intimate? Perhaps there’s a new role that needs to emerge in the online learning ecosystem: a “learning architect” who sits between the engineers and the instructional designers.

Read the full article about online learning by Amy Ahearn at EdSurge