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Checking the petri dishes: End game analysis for MultiMOOC 13

February 15, 2013
I’ve decided to write a brief reflection on MultiMOOC, having just awakened this morning to find a copy of our news, weekly edition, laying on my virtual doorstep.

As I have pointed out many times, MultiMOOC was not a MOOC.  It was an EVO session about MOOCs, especially cMOOCs.  It sought to create experiments which collectively would reveal the inner workings of cMOOCs.  It pointed people to the cMOOC du jour, ETMOOC, to see the results of such experiments in action.

MultiMOOC could not be a MOOC because it wasn’t massive.  Therefore, we had no hope of reaching a critical mass of rich and ongoing interaction possible in other MOOCs (other EVO sessions achieve rich interaction, but not with cMOOC techniques, which is what this session attempted to explore). Nevertheless we mounted experiments in aggregation as best we could and my this morning reminded me to have a look in the incubator and see what was in some of the petri dishes we had left there over the course of the session.

Starting with there was much less there than in the previous week, showing a diminished enthusiasm for tagging from our participants in general the last week of the course.  Compare the last two editions of
Dispite the paucity of content tagged, the most recent issue reveals much enthusiasm from Natasa, in this blog post
This is a good overview of what was salient in the other EVO sessions Natasa is following, brought to us in MultiMOOC (well, to me, today) via our To me, this illustrates one way how aggregation in MOOCs works, in this small experimental context.

Another interesting comparison of the two papers is that our spammer has taken the week off. Were he to continue, after we stop using the mmooc13 tag, he would be the sole contributor to the newsletter (but then, no one would notice, as we would no longer be generating content on that tag ourselves 🙂

Another thing I notice is that I have not been tagging so assiduously this past week.  The week before, my tagged artifacts dominated the newsletter (i.e. I was doing most of the tagging).  But I think the experiment still shows how it is possible to document a movement online if people in the group tag.

The other petri dishes are in our sidebar at, direct link here:

Our delicious tags turn up posts that show participants were blogging during the course.  I think I might have tagged these blogs myself when we were discussing tags in weeks 2 and 3; e.g.  The blogs include:
If others wanted to game this system and make their blogs appear in our delicious or diigo search, then launch your blog in a browser and tag it, and it should appear at the delicious links above.

Interestingly, the Diigo searches turn up nothing for our session specific tag mmooc13, despite my having ported my delicious tags there (I thought!) though our long-used community tag evomlit is somewhat productive

That latter link points us to Spezify, where the search on evomlit is rich in content, revealing the long-term community use of that tag:  At one point, people were tagging Flickr photos evomlit, and so there are lots of pictures here from conferences, etc. (but no YouTube videos as yet; see comments under Addictomatic below).  Interestingly each time you refresh this page you get different content, all of it relevant to the community of EVO Multiliteracies participants.

Spezify’s yields results, especially from Twitter, but none of the graphic material here has anything to do with MultiMOOC.  This too is revelatory. When we chose the mmooc13 tag we didn’t check these aggregators beforehand for existing content, which I used to advise people to do (then failed to follow my own advice). It’s not totally compromising if your tag is used by others if your group can generate enough content to suppress rogue content.  In the case of evomlit, our community content is the only content displayed, meaning that this was a well-chosen tag (I did check evomlit for prior content at the time and found it pristine; no one else was using that tag or has since, that we can see).  But with mmooc13, where I didn’t check first for prior content (because Cristina and I agreed on it after rejecting several other options in an IM chat) we now find that others are using that tag with greater frequency than we are.

Addictomatic is a tool similar to Spezify.  Though its display is less attractive, it gathers content into blocks built around RSS feeds from YouTube, delicious, and so on.  As with Spezify, the evomlit search is pretty much all relevant: But unlike Spezify, it is also robust for mmooc13, with no irrelevant posts at all.  In fact, it seems to troll WordPress in particular and thus pulled up two of Vanessa’s posts that I had not been aware of:
It occurs to me after reviewing these results that I can game the system by going into my YouTube account and tagging our Hangouts appropriately.  It had not occurred to me before because Hangout creates the video and posts it without your having to ever pass through your YouTube account.  I have just now taken the trouble to go into my YouTube account and tag some of the videos that had appeared there automatically after our hangouts.  The results didn’t appear immediately, but we now have results in Addictomatic for YouTube videos.  It took about 5 min. for the tags to propagate. So, the experiment worked, and we have just learned a little bit more about controlling our social presence online and hence, organizing participant content through directed use of tags in cMOOCs.

You know, this is a game we can all continue to play long after the course is over.  As you can see we have created a test tube to which we can add tags like scientists might introduce chemicals, and see immediately in the tube the results of those experiments.  With an active and highly reactive MOOC like ETMOOC, you can play with thousands of other participants, but unless your tagged efforts rise to the top somehow, you might never see the results.  So, as with any ecosystem, each input has an effect, but it’s hard to see that effect except under the simplified experimental conditions we are able to achieve with MultiMOOC.

This brings us to Twitter, which is an aggregator of the moment.  It’s very good for getting messages across now, but dated content tends to disappear eventually. Searching on our tags #evomlit and #mmooc13 I find where 

My vision for the EVO MultiMOOC session this year was to have had a few dozen people contributing to the tag feeds, giving all the satisfaction of seeing results of their tagging in our aggregators, while sharing with other members of the group content they were creating and finding.  The group didn’t jell as much as I had hoped for this time around, but enough people played for us to see some results, and as always we have learned by doing things that would be difficult or impossible to discern except through online experimentation.

For me personally, my greatest learning achievement for the course was in learning how to stream hangouts so they could be heard as they happen by people not actually in the hangout.  This overcomes two limitations of hangouts. One limitation is that you can only have 10 in a Hangout at a time, so if there is a stream, any number of people can at least listen, even when the hangout is full.  The other limitation is that it’s hard to tell people where you’ll be hanging out because hangouts are designed to be found through your circles and other social features of Google + so there is no URL to give out until the Hangout actually starts. We overcome this by embedding an etherpad clone text chat adjacent to the stream and giving the hangout URL there. Thus, many Hangouts are announced, but participants can’t enter because there are ten there already, or they have no way of finding the hangout once it has started.
I hope others in the session achieved their learning goals and we certainly appreciate the opportunity for interaction. You can continue interacting with many of us in MultiMOOC and many in the other EVO sessions by joining our Webheads in Action Yahoo Group, here:

For more, read the follow-on to this blog post here:

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