My reflections on MAS.S70 — A design course for new learning platforms

At the beginning of my first semester at the Media Lab, my interest in the space of open learning made me take MediaLabx (MAS.70), a design course for new learning platforms. As a Masters student, this was my first course at the Lab.

Before joining this course, my knowledge about the MOOCs was very limited. I had no idea about the existence of different types and forms of MOOC platforms. Initially, we were grouped in teams based on our skill set and themes of interest in the class. I was worried that being a developer, I would be expected to build a web platform in a short span of time. But Philipp explained me, we need not necessarily build something concrete; it could be a mockup, a solid project idea or maybe a working prototype. I got convinced of this and decided to stay with my initial group. [To be honest, that was the best decision ever! I love my fellow MOOCsters (Katherine, Mila, Griff, Jeff — from Harvard Ed School) ]

I was excited to see that all of us in the team shared a similar vision and that was to build a digestible, engaging and empowering MOOC platform. I was intrigued by the brainstorming procedure adopted in the class to divide students into project teams. I reflected over the idea of building a similar style collaborative brainstorming platform, where people with different skill sets, interests, and learning styles could gather to find their right match for working on projects. We discussed on this for a while, but later came up with a more generalized approach for building a tool (not another Coursera/ Udacity/ edX) something that each one of us could apply for different use cases. For instance, I shared my vision of applying it for the Learning Creative Learning (LCL)course at the Lab for spring 2014.

We collectively watched the survey results of LCL from the previous year that grouped people based on their time zones. While going through the responses, we were surprised to learn that for most people small group interactions were not significant. From these results, we framed our “how might we”, and began exploring ways to encourage legitimate peripheral participation in online communities. We also thought deeply about incorporating solutions to declare, network and cluster within an already existing MOOC platform.

Initially, I was not much convinced about using the concept of spirit animals for creating user profiles. But when Katherine and Mila made me take a bunch of spirit animal and Myers-Briggs personality tests, I got fascinated by their accurate results. In our group itself, we started discussing the results, assigning each one of us different roles based on our spirit animals. All through this course, I played the role of a clarifier. My team members must have heard these sentences quite often from me, “So here’s what we’ve decided so far”, “I think you’re right, but we could also add….”.

We are still in the process of solidifying our vision and the tool to group people based on their personality traits, learning styles, goals for the course etc. We have big challenges ahead but still we would love to try out our first test soon through the Learning Creative Learning Course which will take place in the Spring of 2014. Read more about my team and our project work here

We’ll also be presenting our project at the Designing Future for Peer-to-Peer Learning conference in Baltimore in February 2014. To view our full conference proposal, click here.

Originally published at