UOSM2012: Small World Theory and My MOOC Reflection

As part of my participation in the UOSM2012 module, myself and others created a video on Small World Theory. We then submitted this to a MOOC the whole cohort and more was participating on.



Due to a small number of limited comments on our video, I am basing this reflection on what I learnt on week 1 of the second MOOC, which was on Network Theory (FutureLearn, 2017).


I enjoyed learning about networks in class, but the abstract and mathematical nature of network theories made it hard to attach meaning to them. However, through the MOOC, I could explore other people’s experiences and examples of existing in networks. I also enjoyed the opportunity to complete the network analysis task again. Whilst perhaps the opportunity to personalise this (say on our own network, much like the personal learning network exercise of the previous MOOC (FutureLearn, 2017)) may have been beneficial, it was interesting to participate in discussions contextualising the definitions of power (FutureLearn, 2017), and why some felt as though some forms of power on a network were more complicated. I would like to have been able to attach this to some higher-level theories of power (such as French and Raven’s, or Luke’s theories) but I did not feel I had a large enough understanding. However, it did signpost an area of revision for me.


Reflecting on the experience, several points come to mind. Firstly, the quality of the discussion was undoubtedly higher, more varied, and more active than that in a physical classroom. This could perhaps be because people find it easier to comment online than stand up in person, but it was fantastic to both see and be a part of. The facilitators also fulfilled a “coaching” role, encouraging comments and engaging with small sub-sections of the MOOC, and even individuals, something that would never be possible in person. However, I do believe that not all subjects could be taught via a MOOC. For example, history I struggle to see the benefits of this format of MOOC due to the large amount of wider investigation required. However, I believe a forum, or discussion platform with the facilitators in a similar role could be very beneficial for when problems are encountered.


I believe this idea extends to the learning theories explored in the MOOC and the classroom. The MOOC is a fantastic example of socio-technical constructivism in learning. The individual learning is equally as important as the social discussion, and the web allows for far greater variety of resources. Social constructivism is clear, as the learners often form small sub-communities on a thread of comments, as is an instructionist approach as the videos and sources signposted begin the learning process. Although the MOOC should not aim to work in every learning theory, this variety makes it incredibly powerful for catering to a range of learners.


Overall, the MOOC has encouraged my learning more, and caused me to explore through discussion. It has been very helpful to have the resources so readily available, but for me the main bonus has been in signposting areas I need to understand more, and having a huge community on hand to help that has been most beneficial.


Word Count: 498


Reference List:

FutureLearn. (2017). Discussion: “Power, Influence and Action” from The Power of Social Media – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/social-media/3/steps/168886 [Accessed 22 May 2017].


FutureLearn. (2017). Task: create your own Personal Learning Network map – Learning in the Network Age – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age/1/steps/193271 [Accessed 22 May 2017].


FutureLearn. (2017). Week 1 from The Power of Social Media – University of Southampton. [online] Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/social-media/3/todo/11808 [Accessed 22 May 2017].

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