#MOOC MOOC Some reflections on MOOC

” Online education through MOOC could be feeding us with knowledge like steroids”  Is such claim a hyperbole?  May be, may be not.

I found this post and the comments pretty fascinating, and I would like to respond below.  Stephen summarises and evaluates it, and comments:

  • it’s too easy to cheat
  • star students can’t shine
  • employers avoid weird people (he writes: “Getting an unconventional degree suggests you’re probably one of the usurpers who are more trouble than they are worth. MOOCs are the nose rings of higher education.”)
  • computers can’t grade everything
  • money can’t substitute for ability

In fact, none of these are genuine issues, as they are rooted in perception rather than any fact. If you get past a vision of the world where students compete with each other through grades then you see a world in which a MOOC is normal and acceptable, as students participate in online projectys that reflect their true abilities, creating portfolios than can be judged with much more fine-graded nuance than opaque grading systems.

1. Cheating

I agree with Stephen’s views on “these rooted in perception rather than fact”.  We don’t seem to have enough evidences: facts and researches to support those claims.

When students are immersed in the learning environment, focusing on learning and practising what has been learnt, through the creation of portfolios and collaboratively or cooperatively working with others in the networks, then assessment is merely the collection of such evidences of the learner’s own work, and “cheating” is not that important.  In fact, that is how most people (both educators and learners) would “reblog” or aggregate and curate blog posts and artifacts through RSS, Delicious, Google, wikis, and add their comments and evaluations based on those parts of the original posts.

Cheating would however become a critical issue if grading in assessment comes into play, where a candidate or student is judged based on the performance on assignments, tests and examinations.  It could also be a concern to educators and education authority, or even businesses on how such practices are allowed to take place in education.  So, when it comes to assessment, it depends on the level of “copying” of contents that are in the artifacts, blog posts or  videos, podcasts, slides, etc.  In summary, some of those perceptions would still be a concern for institutions, when accreditation and validation of  course work of assignments or examinations of MOOC are concerned.

2. Star students cant’ shine

I am not sure if there are significant number of star students who can’t shine in MOOCs.  What makes a star student?

This is how Tom Peters perceives an A student, or a star student.

May be there are some truths, though we need more evidences on this.

3. Employers avoid weird people

I don’t think that is true.  Employers want people who are productive, creative, and hardworking.  Employers want results.  So, how would we equate those who took MOOC to be weird people that employers don’t want?  May be too many assumptions behind here.

4. Computers can’t grade everything

Yes.  There are certain learning that computers can’t grade, especially when it comes to humanity studies, or ontology.  However, there are many mundane tasks or examinations (with MC, T/F) which could be easily graded by computers.  So, it depends on what you are assessing in MOOCs.

5. Money can’t substitute for ability

I think money can “buy” the ability of a person, and that is where people are employed to do the work and get paid.  Can money substitute for ability?

The creation and development of more MOOCs

There is an interesting trend in MOOCs. Wonder if this has caught institutions by surprise!  I think this is what most opportunistic learners would do.

So, aren’t these star students?  They even organised their own MOOCs.  Are they the ones who are creating their own learning platforms, spaces, based on their own choices?  Aren’t Sal Khan doing similar things?

These xMOOCs might have laid the golden eggs, ready for the hackers and opportunistic learners to hatch.  What would be the implications?  Aren’t these Entrepreneurship Movements of MOOCs on steroids?

What is actually learnt in a MOOC, and MOOC MOOC in particular?

What makes these MOOCs attractive?  Here are some of my points of learning about MOOC:

1. Connections – to ideas, concepts and thinking of others, yours, and mine. As I shared in my main post about Connectivism, MOOC is a platform where different ideas are entered into our minds, with some forms of aggregation, followed by curation if you like.  The remixing and repurposing of those ideas would come naturally, once you allow for the “flow” to guide you.  The feedforward part is where you share with others through the media, tools. The connected learning elaborated here provides a summary of what it means to be connected.

2. Conversation – this is the most important of all in a connectivist learning, where conversation with oneself and others form the basis of learning, turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge with thinking out loud.

3. Critical thinking and literacyhere is my previous post on critical thinking in MOOC.

13 thoughts on “#MOOC MOOC Some reflections on MOOC

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  5. Just wondering: Did you actually read the Chronicle article? Did you the source(s) of his current thinking? Did you think of walking in his shoes? A considerate discussion might lead one to ask: Who benefits and who loses when he or she cheats in a f2f or online course? What strategies might be used to encourage learners to avoid cheating? What might be the intended and unintended consequences of cheating behavior going unchecked? I have to run now…. My questions do not concern the ideas you shared…. I did not have time to process all of them..

  6. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for your interesting thought provoking questions.
    Did I actually read the Chronicle article? Yes
    Did I use the sources of his current thinking? Yes
    Did I think of walking in his shoes? Yes.
    Who benefits and who loses when he or she cheats in a f2f or online course? See my post here for details: https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/what-may-be-the-biggest-problem-in-online-course-assessment-cheating-and-plagiarism/ also I have addressed these in the above post. Refer to the paper I linked in the post “Here are the Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education”, and you will find a list of strategies in response to plagiarism and cheating.

    What might be the intended and unintended consequences of cheating behavior going unchecked? I have addressed that in my post on what may be the biggest problem and the post here https://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/change11-on-mooc-my-reflection-part-3/

    The main goals with these MOOCs are still to ensure more students are able to pass the course, achieve the prescribed learning outcomes, and perform to the standards required through quizzes, tests and examinations. It could be interesting to see how students would self-organise their learning, without “too much” guidance by the professors. There could be challenges like people sharing their answers to quizzes, assignments, or examination questions and answers, that may be viewed as inappropriate behavior. Cheating, plagiarism and copying of each others’ answers could occur when standard tests and examinations are used. In the case of connectivist courses, learners would likely aggregate, remix, re-purpose and feed-forward their responses (in their assignment) (probably based on individual’s PLE), and so it is unlikely be “treated” as plagiarism, or copying, unless the whole response (like a blog post) is a mere repetition or copy of others’ posts. May be a connectivist approach would challenge both students and professors to think of innovative and creative ways to develop assessment, thus overcoming the problem of plagiarism inherent in the assignments or examinations. Also, this would encourage educators and learners to focus more on learning – which means understanding, thinking, reflection, application and action, that would be reflective in getting a good grade in passing the course.

    What about your responses to the above questions?
    I understand that you are busy, and have to go.

    It takes time to think about the posts and comments I read, before I could create a post. Empathy, as you stated here, is important in order to understand the thinking behind the posters. However, I am not a mind reader, so I hope I understand what you mean. Or you could share more on what you mean by “walking in his shoes”.


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