Henry Dobson was one of the few people with whom Greg House ever wanted to form a friendship. It could never have worked out. They were too similar. You see, Dobson’s knowledge of medicine was exemplary, almost as good as House. But if House had wanted someone to agree with his opinion, he’d have looked in the mirror. What Dr. House needed when it came to solving complex problems was diversity. He needed people who would stand up to him; disagree with him. Dobson wasn’t that man. As Dobson put it, you don’t need someone to tell you what you already know.
Which leads me to the obvious question, why should a MOOC be massive? Whilst MOOC’s have grown exponentially, the theory of knowledge underpinning them, Connectivism, has grown more steadily. Somewhere in the hysteria the point kinda got lost. MOOC’s are massive because they operate under the assumption of a network effect; they are decentralized and devolved to provoke connections. What MOOC’s seek is a diversity of opinion. It goes without saying that the quality of the experience is driven by the quality of the dialogue and debate. If this debate is within a small group, or driven by a teacher, or with a bunch of Dobson’s, then the outcome will always be the same. Consensus. Boring, mundane consensus.
I’m afraid that organisations are eyeing up the MOOC trend a bit too readily. On the face of it, it seems like a great excuse to make some content and then make thousands of people watch it. But of course, this misses the point entirely. Content is a trigger for connections at best. It should spur the creation of new content, new ideas, connections. The outcome of all this is unpredictable. Which makes it very much the antithesis of the training and development department.
This is why I’m starting to think that any corporate application of MOOC theory would do well to steer well clear of the training department. Instead it should focus on solving problems. Forget training. Training brings standardisation.
I’m interested in bringing MOOC theory to process redesign. The ability to connect a diverse group of participants around a single topic, to get them to connect with each other and create content, ideas and debate really intrigues me. I believe that it’s only through diverse connections that innovation occurs. Which is why House needs a team that is nothing like him. Anything less would be lethal.