Ultra Micro MOOC

9 Jun

This week’s focus in CEP811 was on how massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are changing the learning landscape for people around the world. In our exploration, we discovered that learning no longer has to take place within four walls, but through MOOCs anyone can learn just about anything from anywhere! Our task for creation this week was to make an outline for an ultra micro MOOC and experience firsthand what it is like to build such a course. I have included my outline below:

In my “How Tweet It Is! Backyard Birding for ALL” course my peers will master bringing a variety of colorful songbirds to their own backyard by creating a bird-friendly environment and consulting/sharing ideas with peers in their personal learning network (PLN).


Course topic: Celebrating the artistic nature of birds. This course is designed specifically for people seeking to spruce up their backyards with natural color and song. Anyone can download a track of bird songs to sit back and relax to, but nothing compares to the visual and audio aesthetics of real birds in one’s own backyard sipping a cup of hot coffee. In this course, my peers will master the skill of attracting colorful songbirds to one’s backyard, creating a pleasurable and relaxing living environment for all.


1. Build a PLN within one’s region to better understand the nature of the birds in one’s particular area.

2. Create objects from repurposed items that will attract songbirds and add aesthetic appeal to one’s backyard.

3. Identify which bird species will be the easiest and most challenging to attract to one’s area.

4. Identify various websites and apps that will aid in creating a favorable environment for target birds.

5. Master the art of attracting both migratory and year-round songbirds to one’s backyard.

Course modules:

WEEK 1: What Is the Potential of My Backyard?

Learn: Students will research what types of birds are found in their area via a Google Search, app, or even a trip to the local Audubon Society (highly recommended) expanding their PLN outside the peers in the course.

Explore: Is my backyard fit to attract colorful songbirds? Students will tap into the knowledge of their PLN by exploring what makes a bird-friendly environment.

Create: A personalized heat map (statewide at the biggest) of the species of birds one would expect to see for each season (persons living in areas without distinct seasons need only create maps for the seasons that occur).

Share: Embed the heat map into a blog post reflecting on the learning experience and stating what challenges one may face when the time comes to create a bird-friendly backyard and all the while practicing digital citizenship. Comment/leave feedback on a peer’s blog giving suggestions where appropriate.

WEEK 2: How Do I Get the Birds to Come Where I Want Them To? (The backyard!)

Learn: Now that species of birds are known, it is time to once again consult with peers in the PLN  to find out what their behaviors are and what attracts each bird individually.

Explore: What makes a bird feel at home? Food/Water, Shelter, Flora/Fauna, Color preference, etc. Utilize Wikipedia and Cornell Lab of Ornithology app for information on specific birds. Familiarize oneself with PopcornMaker to be used later.

Create: A PopcornMaker video (2 minutes) highlighting each target bird’s attractions essentially developing a “game plan” for attracting those specific birds.

Share: In a blog post, link the PopcornMaker video created and share ideas for how to best attract the target birds.  Back up the plan with the research completed and exercise good digital citizenship.

WEEK 3: Setting Up Your Backyard for Success

Learn: Is it always necessary to purchase supplies needed to make an outstanding bird-friendly backyard? No. Some of the most ornate designs not only attract birds, but houseguests as well. The best part is that these “second-hand” materials can be found just about anywhere.

Explore: Existing items to be repurposed to attract birds just as well as the store-bought items.

Create: A bird house/feeder/bath with scavenged materials that, according to what was learned in weeks 1 and 2, will be expected to attract one specific target bird to one’s backyard. Take pictures of the creation to share in a blog post highlighting the step-by-step process and why it is expected to work. Set up the creation for the upcoming weeks.

Share: The step-by-step procedure with pictures along with a reflection on the repurposing experience in a blog post.

WEEK 4: Techy Tools to Enhance the Birding Experience

Learn: Wild animals do not appear overnight, nor do they run on a specific schedule. Take this time to explore Evernote and how it can be used to create an album.

Explore: Play with Evernote, Google Calendar (part of Google Apps), or any other resource that allows to electronically document sightings of the target bird(s).

Create: Using a video camera, GoPro camera, or camera phone, snap videos and photographs to upload to Evernote. Essentially making a birding scrapbook.

Share: In a blog post, share an update on what has gone well and what has not gone so well in the backyard birding adventure. Also reflect on how using the documentary tools is going sharing joys and frustrations with that as well.

WEEK 5: The Colorful Songbird Scrapbook

Create: Using the tools from Week 4, organize the video clips and photographs stored in Evernote to create a jazzy songbird scrapbook.

Share: 1: Post the scrapbook on the course website and celebrate a job well done! 2. In a final blog post, reflect on the overall experience and what was learned as well as what questions may have come up or yet remain to be addressed.

This course was designed to help those wishing to liven up their backyard by adding colors and songs sung by songbirds. By the end of the course they will have mastered how to bring those songs to their backyard for a peaceful and musical environment. The course was designed in modules to build skills that would allow students to achieve mastery in backyard birding. The design was constructed taking into consideration the instructional design theory posited by Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe stating that, “We can best decide, as guides, what ‘sites’ to have our student ‘tourists’ visit and what specific ‘culture’ they should experience in their brief time there if only we are clear about the particular understandings about the culture we want them to take home.” (pg. 15). In the case of this course, the ‘culture’ to take home is a natural songbird experience, this course achieves that by taking the ‘tourists’ to ‘sites’ that allow them to understand bird behavior better or “think like the enemy” and outsmart the birds to come to their backyard. By integrating technology, the team of tourists becomes that much stronger, effective, and immediate by collaborating with one another and assisting each other in achieving mastery of backyard birding.


Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, pg. 15. Retrieved June 8, 2014 from http://books.google.com/books?id=N2EfKlyUN4QC&printsec=frontcover&dq=backward+design&source=bl&ots=gmcDp7VO1v&sig=buNdUrqOhtK8k3Y3fWEtOq9H6JM&hl=en&ei=TPqhTOSPNcP2nAe-kNmIBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CEgQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=backward%20design&f=false

WikimediaCommons. (2012). Indigobunting. Wikipedia. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Indigo_Bunting,_male.jpg


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: