I am not sure that MOOCs humanize the online learning experience. My experience in teaching a for-credit, blended (hybrid) course, BIO 204, convinced me that the online discussion board made it possible for me to communicate with ALL of the students in the class – even those who rarely spoke up in class or stayed afterwards for a conversation. I think I valued this aspect of the online component of the course because I, myself, as a college student was always the shy student who only formulated something to add to the discussion long after the class had ended. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to reflect for a while and then take part in a discussion, and I believe I would have learned more during my courses had I been able to do so.
My first thought about MOOCs was that they were so large that it would not be possible to follow the discussions among tens of thousands of students, and I am finding that this is true for me. I cannot say that for me they humanize the MOOC experience. In BIO 204 my students would discuss a topic until the early morning hours and sometimes would miss an important point and go somewhat off track. When I would read the posts the next day, I was able to add my own comments and redirect the conversation. The students and I both enjoyed this discussion, and I must say that I learned a lot of new things from them that had never occurred to me.
I am very pleased that the professors for eLearning and Digital Cultures suggested blogging in addition to the online discussion. It really saves time to be able to post in my own blog instead of searching through the discussion board to find the proper place, and now I have interesting new blogs and Twitter feeds to to follow. I can only discuss things with a linited number of people at one time, so this is a perfect course-humanizing solution for me! Thanks, Twitter and WordPress for humanizing my MOOC experience!