This is the blog of Dr. Curt Bonk, Professor at Indiana University and President of CourseShare (there are NO Guest Blogs and NO advertisements permitted).

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Just a lot of Bonk? Yes, is my new homepage.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Vanity? Security? Simplicity? Change? Timing? Or just because I can? Perhaps it is just time for a change. But after more than two decades with the same homepage, I thought we should try it and see if it worked. And so, (and now exist: Due to security changes at IU (blame the North Koreans and the Russians), I finally asked my assistant Seth to port it all my stuff to “” and “” There are new security rules and systems in place at IU called Duo. The Duo system requires a two-step login and hence limited who could update my homepage. In effect, it forced me to create a new homepage

I bought these URLs two or so years ago for my homepage Now you can tell people to find my stuff there. You can find all my open access papers in PublicationShare, PowerPoints of all my talks in TrainingShare, my free videos in YouTube on how to teach online, my free book, Adding Some TEC-VARIETY, all my other book projects, my course syllabi, and so much more. As part of these changes, my 8 pack learning theory video lectures are now in my SuperTravelinEdMan YouTube channel (long and boring and 9 years old).

My old homepage at IU will still work and point to (at least until the day I leave). Please check out my new homepage and let me know what you think. It is not flashy. In fact, it will look exactly the same. But now the URL will be easier to remember. It does the job for now. 

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Making friends in MOOCs: It is No Fluke!
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Friends in MOOCs
My SOLE (Self-directed Online Learning Environments) research team (Meina Zhu, Minkyoung Kim, Shuya Xu, Najia Sabir, and Annisa Sari) and I just submitted a paper for review last week related to instructor personalization of MOOCs. In terms of the data for the study, we sent a survey to over 1,000 MOOC instructors last summer and received about 152 responses. Here is the title of that paper (unfortunately, I cannot share the paper at this point since it is in me if you want a copy.):

Bonk, C. J., Zhu, M., Kim, M., Xu, S., Sabir, N., & Sari, A. (in review). Pushing toward a more personalized MOOC: Exploring instructor selected activities, resources, and technologies for MOOC design and implementation.

One question that we asked was the following:

1.      How many of the participants from your most recent MOOC would you now consider a personal friend?
a.       None
b.      1-5
c.       6-10
d.      11-20
e.       More than 20

I was interested in this question since I taught a MOOC for Blackboard (catalog) related to how to teach online exactly 5 years ago ( has been 5 years already? Yes!). It was called "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success." We used CourseSites from Blackboard. You still can enroll 5 years later.

In that course, I made many new friends, including people from Scotland, Belgium, Ukraine, Italy, Australia, South Africa, the United States, the UAE, Sweden, Macedonia, and other parts of the world. Friends in the USA included those from Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas, Kentucky, and so on. One of my MOOC participants, Paul Beaudoin, is an American composer, theorist, and author who was at Fitchburg State University at the time.

Paul performed extremely well in the course and got to know and support many of his global peers. In fact, despite nearly 4,000 people enrolled, he and I became good friends. Paul was among my favorite students in the course. During the course, Paul sent me an email asking me to look "under the hood" at one of his own courses and give him some feedback. And so I quickly explored it and found his activities to be highly impressive. Not surprisingly, Paul later recognized by Blackboard with an award for his unique and engaging online course ideas and activities.

Suffice to say, we became good friends. I have recommended him for a couple of awards and recognitions since then including a Fulbright experience a year later in Estonia which he was awarded. His proposal was titled:
The Changing Face of Music and Education: Technology, Creativity, and Inspiration,”

At the end of the MOOC, Paul said to me (which I have permission to share...see my testimonials):
           “Many thanks for the work you have been sharing with us these last 4 weeks. While I was hesitant at first, I have come to love this MOOC and look forward to it. Even better, is that I am implementing some of the ideas I've learned these past few weeks in my Summer Survey of Music class. I am now working on implementing other TEC-VARIETY ideas to bring into the fold.

I have much better expectations for the outcomes of this class and with the new techniques/strategies I have learned in the Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Learning MOOC. I am inspired and open to bringing my students a more engaging learning experience. Participating in the Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success has made it clear to me that my focus in life is one who is passionate about teaching.”

Given the admittedly shaky start to my MOOC as the suite of tools Blackboard used were not designed for a MOOC, I was grateful for with all the positive comments when the MOOC was over. In fact, I was a tad overwhelmed. I now had dozens more people to connect to and share my research  reports with. At the time, i promised the participants that my next book would be free and so it is. My "Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online" is now free. It has had more than 100,000 downloads since it came out in 2014.

Giving away one's writing is one way to generate new friendships. Giving course design feedback is another. So is offering a free massive course. In terms of MOOCs, I think that the number of friendships made relate to the type or form of MOOC that you design. Is it an xMOOC (more traditional instructor led) or a cMOOC (more community and participant driven) or pMOOC (more project or product based) or some other type? One's goals and teaching approach or philosophy will certainly impact the number of new friendships made. As per the title of this blog post, "Making friends in MOOCs: It is No Fluke!"

Here is what we found in our survey research:
While the type of MOOC taught was deemed important, we were also curious whether these instructors felt like they made new friends as a result of teaching their MOOC(s) as it might be an indirect sign of MOOC personalization and enhanced interaction with the participants. However, when asked how many of the participants from their most recent MOOC that they would now consider a friend, 115 (76.7%) of the 150 MOOC instructors who responded to this question indicated none. Nearly one in five respondents (n=29; 19.3%) made between one and five new friends. Only 6 respondents (2.4%) made more than six friends from teaching their MOOC. In effect, despite the huge enrollments, delivering a MOOC typically led to few new personal friendships; a sign that they were more often taught as xMOOCs or self-paced MOOCs and not more participant or community driven types of cMOOCs.

See figure above (we are using a line graph in our journal article). Over three-quarters of MOOC instructors make no friends at all when teaching the massive courses with tens of thousands of people. How can this be? Perhaps I have a more loose definition of friendship than most MOOC instructor. But clearly, most MOOC instructors are not involved in teaching such a massive class to make new friends. They are likely more focused on delivering content. We need to do some follow-up interviews to find out more. But it is an open area of research. Perhaps others will want to focus on the possible links between friendships made and retention, learning, satisfaction, or enrollment in additional MOOCs.

I am curious what others think. I am also interested if anyone knows of any additional research on this topic. Perhaps one of my MOOC friends knows.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

See my complete profile

Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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