The emergence of x and c MOOCs and pedagogy

Ray in this post on MOOCs are maturing says:

What will this adolescent, MOOC, become when it grows up?  Some key traits are apparent even at this early point in the development of this movement.  MOOCs, by definition, reach massive audiences.  Where there are massive audiences, there are efficiencies that may be had, and there is money to be made through advertising.  MOOCs are pioneering new modes of assessment that may be applicable across all of education.

Adaptive learning has been given a boost by open online initiatives.  The hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars attracted by the potential of MOOCs are a significant incentive to make some version of massive open online learning work.  If there is one thing that MOOCs have shown us, it is that there is a huge international appetite for learning.

Based on my observation and research, I think there are vast differences in terms of needs and experiences in MOOCs (especially the c and x MOOCs) for various types and cohorts of learners – high school students, college and university undergraduate students, graduate students, graduates and working learners, scholars, researchers, professors etc.

It is hard to pin down a particular pedagogy for each type or cohort of learners, but generally, those undergraduate students tend to need more guidance than graduate students and graduates, and that life-long learners (those who have work experience and degrees, or those who are veterans in MOOCs – cMOOCs etc.) tend to prefer more autonomous and independent or self-directed and organised learning. These sort of findings are revealed in various forms in “our past researches” though we need more concrete statistics and learning analytics to verify those claims.

There are many assumptions behind the learning for xMOOCs which seem to be revealed in decades of research – that these learners tend to be more entrusted in learning with their elite institutions and professors, and so an instructivist approach with mastery learning matches and aligns with their learning style. Besides, working and learning with professors would also lead to a closer and positive relationship between learners and institutions, which is highly desirable when these graduates need recommendation from the professors when applying for work (or through the xMOOCs). You would easily find lots of professionals working with Coursera and Udacity now are those “graduates” from those xMOOCs or those who graduated from the elite institutions. Surely, the pedagogy they would prefer is the instructivist approach and mastery learning, when they are asked about their preferred learning/teaching methodology, as that is what they are employed for.

To what extent would learners learn with other pedagogy, like a networked learning approach or Connectivism? My (our) research did indicate that these would likely be adopted by those who are well experienced and motivated learners, with mature and advanced learning skills. These could include graduates and some experienced life long learners, some professors who would like to adopt emerging technology and new and innovative pedagogical approach, and those who are pioneers in COPs, though many of these educators and professionals would prefer to use “social constructivist” or “cognitivist” approaches in describing their preferred pedagogy, rather than Connectivism. John

Here is my post relating to c and x MOOCs:

What would emerge out of the MOOCs?

I suppose there are 3 types of MOOCs that are emerging in Higher Education:

The x MOOCs

Those MOOCs which could leverage technologies, automate the whole educational process of teaching, assessment and certification, and those which are operating under a sustainable business model – with a continuous stream of revenues and profits to support the design and running of the MOOC.  The focus would likely still be on the business, with technology enhanced learning as the way to educate and learn, supported by the super professors, with videos-based teaching, and flipped classroom.   This seems to fall in line with the current x MOOCs where huge enrollments –  million with Coursera, and hundreds of thousands with Udacity and edX.

The c MOOCs

The second type of MOOC are those which focus principally on the learners’ preferences and thus be based on learner-centred model of teaching and learning.  Here the professors would negotiate the teaching with learners with networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education and learning process, with distributed learning and technology as an enabler, with a connectivist approach towards learning and crowd sourcing as a means to aggregate the distributed learning.  This could be the current model of c MOOC, based on emergent learning.

The x and c MOOCs

The third type of MOOCs are those which would re-brand themselves, attract and sustain more educators and learners to be on board of the bandwagon of MOOCs, where an educational model is blended into the business model.  Here the super professors and educators would re-reconfigure the teaching to “teach the world”, and support learners in grouped or networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education process, with technology and social media/networks as an enabler.  This could be a hybrid structure of x MOOC and c MOOC.

Finally, what would be the model that emerge?

Here the models are represented by:

What would be the future of MOOCs?

As discussed, the three sorts of MOOCs would serve different types of learners differently based on what the institutions would offer and what the learners might need and expect.

There are no clear crystal balls in accurately predicting what would emerge out of these winners, though it is for sure that the ultimate model of Higher Education would likely go with xMOOCs within the coming decade, as the demand for qualifications, formal teacher-based education is still the norm.

There is a possibility of having institutions adopting a hybrid approach in blending educational model with a strong business model in order to sustain in the long run.  This means that more emerging technologies would be adopted to replace the current teacher-based model of teaching, where the core business of education is more widely adopted not only in higher education, but also being adopted in the wider community and networks.  Here the c and x MOOCs would likely be the ones who could embrace both entrepreneurial and educational models in their MOOCs, in the delivery of pragmatic results and tangible outcomes.  This may however, mean that they could have the most disruptive effect on the current Higher Education, as they might transform the nature of business of education.

There are however, certain institutions who would embrace the learners as center of education model, which in fact mimic the adoption of internet and web-based learning, with a Constructivist and Connectivist approaches towards education, where teachers, social and personal learning networks, artifacts and internet based open-resources and open learning are used in the MOOCs’ platforms, as a basis to truly transform both the institutions, and the nature of education and learning.  These require a systemic change in the way learning is considered, that is in keeping pace with the rapid changes in society and needs of learners, with an emergence model of education.

Learning Theories and the Assumptions behind them

Thanks Peter for a thorough review of General System’s theory.  Here is my post relating to a critique on whether Connectivism is a new learning theory or not I have been participating in the discourse about Connectivism since 2008, and since then I “believe” that it is a new learning theory.  However, I have raised many critical questions since then, in particular the notion of learning, as you have also mentioned in your comments – the social learning, at the level of learner behavior, and psychological ideas about motivation, rational choice behavior etc.

What I think is important is that connections in network is necessary but not sufficient in learning, and the principles that are postulated under Connectivism could also be emerging and are not prescriptive in nature.

Indeed, even the theory of emergence and the principles of Complexity Theory are very difficult to be applied in education.  We might however, be best to have some principles and a theory that approximates what actually happened, based on empirical research findings, rather than waiting for a complete learning theory that would soon prove to show that whole is greater than the sums of their parts, and that reductionism doesn’t reflect the reality of the truth.

I suppose that there are so many variables and strange attractors in an open system that any significant changes in parts of the system could create a totally different pathway (of learning) that may hardly be explained with conventional learning theories.  Even with the tens of thousands of research papers proving certain points of learning, we could challenge the assumptions behind each of the theory by critically examining the evidences presented, and the conclusions are: it is only valid if the assumed conditions are satisfied, based on certain context, certain people with certain behaviors (rational behaviors in general, and certain motivation patterns etc.) and certain professors and students etc.  That might be some light based on the arguments and evidences presented, using the scientific and empirical approaches towards research into those learning theories.

Nevertheless, I reckon there are still differences in perceptions and interpretations of any theory of learning presented, due to our differences in each of our learning experiences.

#Change11 Flock and School of Rhythm

Enjoy these videos of emergence.

I was awed when I watched them.

How far does it reflect the MOOC (metaphor of networks)?  We are people on networks, though we might not be able to perceive the big picture, unless we are “withdrawn” from it (MOOC) and look at it from outside.  Check these images here


Picture: Tony Hirst

You are the judge.