- people I have something in common with (to share ideas on a particular topic),
- people I want to have something in common with (they know about a topic that interests me and I want to learn more about), and
- people who have knowledge and skills that complement mine (who may be interested in collaborating on projects).
In a room of 200 (a lecture, a conference) this becomes much more challenging, and I have to rely on my own networks within the room (if I have any) to introduce me to people who fit into my three types.
In a virtual room with 100,000+ people, the exercise becomes near impossible.
The growth of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) provides wonderful opportunities for learners to access quality content with minimal barriers to entry. But how – amongst so many participants - can I identify those I want to connect with?
“Introduce yourself” discussion boards become overwhelming with tens of thousands of posts. Even adding tags (eg: areas of interest) results in thousands of people with vaguely similar interests.
I can view others’ activity in the MOOC – their posts, blogs, assignments (if peer review is being used) – but again volume is an issue.
So what I want is for MOOC designers to help me find the people I want to connect with.
Give me a profiling tool. A tool that allows me to outline my knowledge and areas of expertise, areas that I am interested in and want to know more about, and the knowledge and expertise I am seeking for collaborative projects. Then send me suggestions of people I may want to meet. Show me what they wrote about themselves on the profiling tool.
Help me find my three types of people so we can meet up for a coffee (real or virtual), and further explore our mutual interests.
It may seem a bit like online dating, but haven’t education and dating always gone hand-in-hand?