I have been taking a MOOC, a massive open online course, offered by MIT Media Lab. Every Monday morning, along with, like, 24,000 people, I listen to a lecture and chat on a back channel about creativity.

Last week, Alan Kay, one of the founders of the personal computer, was a guest lecturer.

The subject of that class was BIG ideas.

On a Google Plus side conversation, I went off on a tangent and found this link Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from.

“An idea is a network,” Johnson said. And this: “Chance favors the connected mind.”

I love that MOOCs spark serendipity and digressions. MOOCs are a means to an end but they are not the end. MOOCs also must ignite  real life encounters.

I dig Johnson’s TED talk for he values the coffee house vibe and the slow brewing nature of good ideas. Good ideas are not a sudden AHA! Good ideas slow cook. Good ideas need many cooks to throw in stuff for the soup.

Good ideas need to get together, face to face, to ferment. I signed up for this MIT media lab with Mitchel Resnick because a real life friend Emily Miller recommended it. Honestly, I’d probably get even more out of it if I met people face to face to discuss the big ideas.

In my own way, I am doing that, trying to make IRL face time creative ideas happen. I’m putting together a slew of writing workshops and weekend retreats.

My next afternoon workshop is The Story of Your Life in Jamaica Plain, Boston, on Sunday, March 24th, 1 to 4:30 pm. ($25 registration fee goes to the food pantry.)

P.S. Here are a couple of pics of my afterschool creativity students. They took on a project I learned about on the MOOC —  the spaghetti challenge!

Given 20 pieces of spaghetti, a bit of tape, and a bit of string, how tall could they make their structure and top it off with the marshmallow? You can see how kids feel pride when they make stuff and are encouraged to be creative and playful.

And you can see how the girls won the challenge! Girl power!



One thought on “My MOOC

  1. Excellent snapshot of your MOOC experience, MaryBeth. Agree that some “deep dive” time with others is critical for deeper learning. There’s only so much you can get from a lecture experience, online or otherwise.

    Not always sure that time with others needs to be IRL though, not with Twitter, G+ and of course, #blogchat .. !!

    Yes, Stephen Johnson is GREAT to get us thinking about ideas. Have you seen his RSA clip on YouTube? It’s excellent .. as is his book of the same title ..

    Great blog you have here. I shall be back.


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