Heidi's Welcome and "Nuts and Bolts" Introduction to the MOOS

Heidi Burgess

Guy M. Burgess

January, 2017


This video is Heidi's introduction to the MOOS.  I made it before Guy did his welcome, and, as often happens, did not cover everything that Guy wanted to cover.  So he made another introduction, but he didn't cover this stuff.  So we are keeping both.  While Guy's introduction is more philosophical, this is more practical--it contains more "nuts and bolts" about what the moos is, how it works and is structured, what the goals are and who the intended audience is.   Details about how to use it are then presented in the companion video Using the MOOS.

Full Transcript

Hi, this is Heidi Burgess.  And I would like to welcome you to the MBI-MOOS and explain what it is.  The MOOS is an idea and a project that's being developed by Guy Burgess and myself.  And it's a play on the more common term massive open online course or MOOC.  But instead of developing a course, we're developing a massive open online seminar

Let me explain what we see as the difference.  MOOCs tend to have a set body of information.  You read books.  You watch videos and lectures.  And you take tests.  And you get grades, showing that you learned the ideas that were presented. 

Our MOOS is much more open-ended.  We do have a bunch of information that we want to transmit.  And in another era we might have written a book.  But people don't often have time to read entire books anymore. 

So we thought that it would be better to put our ideas that could conceivably fill a book online in much smaller pieces.  There's no tests.  There's no grades.  You can take in what you find interesting.  Ignore the rest.  And we hope to be able to reach a much larger number of people this way. 

A problem with MOOCs is that they tend to have a whole lot of work.  And while thousands and thousands of people may start to take them, very few finish. 

Everything in our MOOS is bite-sized.  We're aiming to have our videos and the essays watchable or readable in under ten minutes.  Maybe even under five.  And we'll be posting them one or two times a day on Beyond Intractability.  But also on Facebook.  Twitter.  And Linkedin.  Which means that you can subscribe to the MOOS, and you will get our videos once or twice a day in your Facebook feed.  And if they strike you as interesting, you can watch them.  And if they're not so interesting, you can let them go.  But they're much easier to integrate into a busy schedule than is a MOOC. 

The MOOS is based on our earlier work with Beyond Intractability.  And it's being integrated in a variety of ways with Beyond Intractability.  We are now in the final stages of redoing the Beyond Intractability website and putting it on an entirely new platform.  And in so doing we have combined the Beyond Intractability site and the CRInfo site.  And we're putting the MOOS on the same page.  So everything will be easily found altogether. 

You'll see down in the lower left, the moving Beyond Intractability MOOS is over there.  And just to the right of that is the knowledge base, which includes all the material that used to be in the normal BI and CRInfo.

We used to think that we were just going to do one MOOS.  But now we realized that we need multiple MOOSes.  We're going to have two full seminars.  One we're calling the Conflict Frontiers Seminar.  That is looking at issues that are at the frontier of the field--problems that we haven't yet been able to solve.  Reasons why we think the world still has so many intractable conflicts, even after the conflict resolution field has been quite successful at resolving many more tractable conflicts for quite a long time. 

And also a Conflict Fundamentals Seminar, which is looking at the key ideas.  Those are largely the ideas that are in CRInfo and Beyond Intractability that are pretty well agreed upon.  The understanding of why conflicts work as they do and knowledge of skills, ways to handle them that are pretty well-known. 

We're also going to have several brown-bag seminars on specialized subjects.  These will be much shorter seminars, honing in on one particular problem.  We're interested, for instance, in doing a brown-bag seminar on the political divide that is growing wider and wider all the time in the United States.  We're thinking of doing another one on the application of complexity theory to conflict and conflict resolution.  And we're considering a number of other specialized seminars as well. 

We are also creating a number of blogs.  There's going to be an Additional Resources Blog that's going to post one or so posts a day, looking at interesting articles and videos that we find around the web that re-enforce or challenge our thinking and illustrate the ideas that we're trying to get across in our two core seminars. 

We're going to have a Colleague Activities Blog where we can advertise interesting things that colleagues are doing. 

And we're putting everything together into two separate blogs.  One we're calling the Core Content Blog, which will have the Frontier Seminar, the Fundamental Seminar, and the Brown-bag Seminars--all posted on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. 

And a second blog is also going to be posted on those three social networking sites.  It's the All-Content Blog.  It contains everything of the core content and the Additional Resources and Colleague Activities.

The advantages we see of doing it this way are, number one, we hope that this information will be much more accessible.  And it will be two-way.  So if we wrote a book, we probably wouldn't get that many people to read it.  But we're hoping that we can get many thousands of people to look at some of our posts.  We have about 200 to 250,000 unique people who are looking at BI every month.  So if just a small fraction of those look at the MOOS posts, we'll be able to get to a lot larger number of people.

And we're hoping a substantial number of people will respond to the discussions, and start getting involved with us in discussing these very important ideas. 

The MOOS is also nonlinear and flexible.  So we can respond to current events.  We can respond to comments of users.  All of that can't be done with a book. 

Why are we doing this?  Well, we're very concerned about the increase in the intractable conflicts that we're seeing around the world and in the United States.  We put this video together as the election was still going on.  I'm re-dictating it now that it's over.  And it's clear that all the conflicts that were developing in the fall aren't going away.  They're just getting deeper and deeper and deeper.  We want to empower people to begin to deal with our conflicts, and with other conflicts in other parts of the world more effectively. 

Who's our audience?  Well, one is busy people wanting knowledge and skills.  We're getting a lot of questions now about what people can do to try to confront the conflict in the United States more effectively. This is for them.

This is also very much aimed at students, both undergraduate and graduate.  They're the one group that actually does have time to sit down and read a book.  But we're hoping that by making the MOOS more bite size, we'll be able to draw a lot of them in too.  And get them engaged in the discussions so they'll be giving their ideas back. 

And just concerned people everywhere.  People who don't like the way the world is going any more than we do.  And want to figure constructive ways for making it better. 

Our goals overall are to get much more attention, many more people thinking and talking about the profound problem of conflict in our world.  We want to share our knowledge and wisdom so that people's ways of dealing with this conflict is more effective than just fighting back in the same ways that haven't been working for so many years. We want to get people to develop new ideas and share those ideas.  And eventually engage in more constructive action, so that we can start successfully tackling the many intractable conflicts that are raging around the world. 

I hope you'll join us!

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