Water cooler
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Design Pattern: Water cooler

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Water cooler


MOOCers prefer to engage with materials, where they remain passive, such as watching video or reading (downloading) texts. However, theories of learning show that learning (also) demands active participation and interaction beside the passive knowledge acquiring (Lave and Wenger 1991; Sfard 1998) . When MOOCers are asked to do activities where they have to be active, they tend to leave.



This pattern is applicable in MOOC contexts where there is people online simultaneously more or less constantly such as MOOCs with more than thousands of participants. Videos need to be an integral part of the curriculum, for the pattern to work.


Employees go to the water cooler, because they have a demand for water. MOOC’ers watch videos in MOOCs, because they have a demand for knowledge. However, what happens around the cooler, is that people meet informally and get to talk about what’s going on, and often good ideas emerge or sharing of practices happens. This has within organizational studies been recognized as the importance of informal interaction (Fayard & Weeks 2007).

When the MOOCers push the play button on the video, they expect that the video of a talking head professor will play, but instead they will be hooked up in a conference call, with one or more other course participant in a way similiar to chat roulette (regarding ethics, they will of course have to willingly activate their microphone and/or webcam).



Experiments with this pattern will be carried out during May 2016 and reported back.


Data and References

Fayard, A. L., & Weeks, J. (2007). Photocopiers and water-coolers: The affordances of informal interaction. Organization studies28(5), 605-634.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press.

Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational researcher27(2), 4-13.


Author(s): Casper Albertsen, bjarkelindso, brnsbjerg, Lis Zacho
Published at: 28 Apr 2016 06:57 GMT
Original link (login required): https://ilde.upf.edu/moocs/pg/lds/view/4142/