MOOC – A solution to Higher Education and Future Learning?

Is MOOC the solution to future learning, especially online education and learning in Higher Education?  Our past experience with MOOC has interesting results.  There are huge potential in its use, though there are still lots of challenges as I would like to share “our views” and experiences below:

There has been a few rounds of MOOC conversation and lots of unanswered questions, relating especially to Stephen’s response to David Wiley’s response on knowledge transfer.

I think this depends on what sort of knowledge that we are referring to.

Is learning related to the transfer, transmission or replication of information or knowledge in MOOC?  This has been an interesting debate in previous CCKs and there is still no absolute answer to this.  From what I could sense and experience, learning is AN EXPERIENCE WITH THINKING AND REFLECTION and might be embedded in a conversation, an activity, a problem, a project, or reading and commenting.  It may be unintentional as cited by Stephen, especially when learning relates to higher order, critical thinking and reflective learning.  It emerges out of the conversation, and would likely take up a pattern as shown in the COW cartoon in previous post.  It is not easily predictable, as the emerging knowledge would change over time, based on the interaction and engagement amongst the networkers.

So, there are differences in views and understanding of the concept of knowledge and learning within a complex learning environment (epistemology and ontology), amongst academics, scholars, researchers, educators and learners.  Even more challenging would be whether such learning are “best” based on one of the below approaches and theories.

Photo credit: from George Siemens

The first challenge is: Should the learning design of MOOC be based on Cognitivism, Constructivism, Social Constructivism, Situated Learning and/or Connectivism?

For me, MOOC is an experimental educational and learning model simulating the education and learning on and through the Web, Internet, Networks (Learning and Social Networks) and Communities.  Here learning by individuals are based on the navigation, creation and building of networks and  such “information nodes” and knowledge webs are the basis of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE).

Depending on the needs, experience and capabilities (competence in certain domains and capacity in forming learning networks), an individual would consume and or create “information, knowledge, wisdom” through the MOOC, which would also be part of an ongoing educational and learning experience on the web and internet, and or within educational institutions.

So, I think the notion of course in an MOOC is to set up the boundaries upon which certain purpose,  goals and learning outcomes are to be achieved, with the content and process established in the initial course design, within or outside educational institutions.  Whether such goals and outcomes are shared by the course participants in an MOOC are however, nuanced as the emergence of the course often shifted the course goals towards those likely shared and adopted by some of the participants.  Connective learning occurs where the course and networks intersected and fused to form an adaptive learning  system, which keeps changing its shape and structure as the participants interact and engage with the networks, leading to new understanding of networked learning within an MOOC.

Once people have built their PLN, would they more likely move on to (Massive Open Online Network (MOON ), or the Massive Open Educational Community Networks (MOECN)? These networks and communities are often a continuation of connective and collaborative inquiry and conversation after the MOOCs. Such learning and community networks are often  not bound by timelines, fixed schedules of topics designated by course or network organiser or facilitators.  The participants of post MOOCs would likely form their own COPs (Community of Practices) or NOPs (Network of Practices) and develop along different trajectories. The topics of interests are most likely relating to current news or trends that relate to education and learning, technology and tools, education economy, and the implications resulting from the emergent technologies and education.

As shared in my previous post, learning via MOOC is like using the social media and technology (the goose) to enhance teaching and learning.  Here the goose would bear golden eggs (as artifacts and PLNs).  It’s the process of development of eggs inside the womb of the goose, and hatching of the eggs to give birth to another baby goose that constitute the learning.

Would a structured course like that offered in Stanford University on AI also be called a MOOC? They have even got instructor’s resource here.  Lisa shared her views here and Rebecca shared her views here.  George welcomes the MOOC. It seems that the views are pretty divided. Whether such a course is a MOOC seems to be perceived quite differently using different lenses, by educators and learners, as discussed here.

I think MOOC could equally be defined with an AI course, where openness (open access) is achieved – that is, it is open to the public for registration, only that it may not be absolutely free of charge (as you need to buy the text, or else you have to borrow such texts from library or peer learners).  The course does require some requisite knowledge and skills that may be a challenge for those who haven’t got enough skills to learn through.

The answers to some of the problems as set off in the AI course may also be well known in advance, based on prescriptive knowledge, and so diversity of opinions may not be the answers to the problem.

Learner autonomy might be compromised if the designed quiz, assignments and examinations are catered only for those who followed the pre-determined learning pathways.   So, what would be the reactions of participants who have accustomed to the connectivist learning approach – where diversity, autonomy, openness and connectivity within learning networks is emphasized?

The second challenge would be whether structured education and learning is better suited to learners to semi-structured education and learning, in the case of MOOC.  How much structure should a MOOC or MOOOC has?

My interests have shifted to research on the design of the MOOC/MOOCC (Massive Open Online Connectivist Course) as proposed by Edgar.  I reckon structured MOOC would attract learners who are more accustomed to “structured facilitation and assessments”.

How about Community – Colleges? Would MOOC be a feasible solution?

This Community-College students perform worse online than face to face tells a different story.  MOOC within such environment could be difficult and challenging, both for instructors and learners.  Lisa has already shared her views here.

Would participants of previous MOOCs still be doing more MOOC or MOOCC?  Let’s wait and see.