Where next for 23 Things?

For quite a while now I have been wondering whether 23 Things has had its day. With each programme that I run – and I’ve done four now – I feel myself falling out of love with it. Whether it’s that I’ve talked about it too much, or that I’ve reached the limit of where I can develop it, I don’t know, but for me 23 things seems to have run its course.

Then yesterday I attended a talk by Hamish Macleod from the University of Edinburgh. His topic was broadly how we can blend technologies into our teaching practice. Given the announcement earlier this week that Edinburgh was to become the first UK university to join coursera the focus of the talk soon turned to MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). If you’re not familiar with the concept of MOOCs watch this video:

So, the main features of a MOOC are that it is:

  • a course
  • open
  • participatory
  • distributed
  • a networked, life-long learning opportunity

Now don’t all those things sound like the features of 23 things too?

In a recent talk I described 23 Things as:

  • an online learning programme
  • free
  • self-paced
  • inclusive

So what about the massive part? Well, with over 1000 participants* from around the world, CPD23 is a great example demonstrating that a 23 things programme can be massive too.

In the space of 24 hours I find my disillusion with 23 Things has disappeared. And all it took was to think of the programme in the context of MOOCs. I’m now more enthusiastic about developing the programme than ever. This is not the end, it is a new beginning.

* across the 2011 and 2012 programmes

6 comments

  • Frank Van Maroey (Radoveden for cpd23)

    Thanks for your link to coursera. Very interesting stuff there. I already subscribed to “The history of the Internet” but there is much more there like “Fantasy and Science Fiction”. But, I guess it is better to start with one course and then look what it says.

  • Emma Cragg

    Hi Frank, thanks for your comment.
    From my experience of MOOCs (I did Computer Science 101 on coursera a couple of months ago) it’s quite a time consuming process so I’d definitely say it’s better to stick to one at a time, especially if the courses you are following run concurrently. There are so many interesting courses though it’s hard to pick which one to do first.

  • I think there is definitely still room for 23 Things-style learning alongside (or even in collaboration with) MOOCs. I think their learning models are still quite different. We talked about possible future developments to the 23 Things model at the last LibTeachMeet event in London and I’ve been sketching an outline for possible future iterations of 23 Things that focus more on technical skills. Basically, I think the model is still sound but the content is getting a bit ..stale.

  • Emma Cragg

    Thanks for your comment Kate.
    I’d agree that the main development area for 23 Things is in updating the content and there’s great scope to do that. I also think that we can go beyond our institutions, like CPD23 has done, and perhaps that’s the tie-in with MOOCs.

  • I agree with Kate – at the CILIP Mobile tech exec briefing yesterday there was talk of Uni of Glasgow using 23 Things approach to train staff on mobile tech. I liked that idea a lot.

  • Hi Emma,

    I was considering participating to the 23 things but its start day coincided with the start of another MOOC on “First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education” which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed. http://openbrookes.net/firststeps12/

    I am looking forward to attending Coursera’s “elearning and digital cultures” and I know that many infolit Londoners have also enrolled. We make quite a crowd for a Coursera meet up in London. ( #courseraMup )

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