Whilst the drumming has never stopped ever since it started on MOOC’s - its history and future, and more analysis were made in distinguishing the 2 course formats of MOOC, it is about time to reflect on the significance and impact of MOOC on learning and education.
MOOC’s significance and impact
Here Tamar writes:
The current, more technically focused MOOCs are highly automated, with computer-graded assignment and exams. But there is still plenty of room for social interaction. The Stanford MOOCs, for example, included virtual office hours and online discussion forums where students could ask and answer questions — and vote on which were important enough to filter up the professor.
Whilst this model of Stanford MOOC did provide an interesting model for students to have access to the course for free, its highly automated assessment has rendered it unique in an open educational environment open up at a massive scale – to the public, without “any” pre-requisites knowledge or fees.
As shared by George in this recent post:
The Stanford MOOCs are more traditional as they emphasize knowledge development not ontological development. The primary innovation of these MOOCs relates to scale and economics: the numbers of learners that can take a course (currently for no fee, but I think that will be short-lived).
I think that is the crucial point: for MOOC to be sustainable, it must focus on learning, rather than treating it as another business, and be an ontological development, rather than the mere knowledge development.
Bonnie succinctly highlights that MOOC:
But that market lens on massive open coursework misses one of the central elements of the great disruption: education is not solely a business, or a credential-machine. It’s also about learning.
Tony reiterates in his comments:
No learning is easy and some people have tremendous self-discipline, but most in my experience do need structure and deadlines and scaffolding. There is also another meaning of ‘discipline’ and that is an organised body of knowledge with certain requirements for ‘success’. This may appear old-fashioned now, but I still think there is merit in the idea. That’s what makes formal learning different from MOOCs as at present but I don’t see why they couldn’t be adapted for this purpose.
The notion of organised body of knowledge with certain requirements for success may be one of the debatable elements in a Connectivist Learning Model. Success on an individual level would likely mean the achievement of personal goals and accomplishment of tasks or projects by the learners. However, this may not necessarily be achieved through the completion of the MOOCs and so there are differences in the achievement of personal goals, and the achievement of “learning outcomes” of the course MOOC one is taking. Besides, many of those lurkers or participants (active or inactive ones) on a MOOC could be learning through different networks and communities and so MOOC is just one of the platforms for them to “integrate” their learning, between the learning through MOOC and the formal learning in formal institutions.
Here Bonnie writes:
It is this participatory element – the learning of being part of a large, distributed network of people from varied backgrounds, focusing on the same topic – that enables open online experiences to offer value, even to those of us already studying in conventional institutions. That, and the speed and flexibility inherent in networked learning.
Tony continues: The real barrier is what I call the business model – how can MOOCs be financially sustaining in the long run? The Udacity model is not good one for me.
I think the financial implications in working out a business model with MOOCs would be imperative, especially for institutions or business enterprises to consider.
Our past 2 decades on online learning basing solely on a business model reveals that if we treat education solely as a business, a credential or money making machine, then the disruptive innovation pattern model as researched by Clayton Christensen would emerge:
Because companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ lives change, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are too good, too expensive, and too inconvenient for many customers. By only pursuing “sustaining innovations” that perpetuate what has historically helped them succeed, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations”.
|Some examples of disruptive innovation include:
Clayton’s prediction of disruptive innovation could rightly provide us with the crystal ball: that innovative disruption would likely be repeated for any businesses – including education, and HE in particular, especially in highly developed countries, or a global market. These seem to have been demonstrated in the current MOOCs phenomena too. Are we ready for these sorts of “disruptions” in education? Time will tell.
In summary, the MOOC is significant in that it povides an environment upon which learning with complex learning ecology is experimented and explored, so as to inform learners, technologists, educators and administrators (k-12, HE) and managers, engineers and learners from various businesses on the pros and cons of learning using various platforms or spaces in a complex digital landscape. The impact of MOOC includes the changes that would be accompanied with its adoption, with a possibility of exploiting it as an education business model, whilst at the same time pushing HE to the boundary with more innovative models of education and learning in order to be sustainable.