#MOOCMOOC Reflection on different MOOCs

Will MOOC transform Higher Education? There seems to be great potential for MOOC “to transform higher education at a time when colleges and universities are grappling with shrinking budgets, rising costs and protests over soaring tuition and student debt.”

Is free online courses movement good for the higher education? MOOC could be a good platform and hence a driver for education and personalised learning.  As George states in slide 20 of his post: The poor level of innovation needs more MOOC models.

There are models which could be good on surface, but not always good in outcome.  Also there are models which are idealistic but practical on surface, but good in outcome in the long term.

What are those models?  The Good, bad and the ugly models….

“Good MOOCs foreground and sustain the social dimension of learning and active practices, i.e., knowledge production rather than knowledge consumption.”  (Good MOOCs Bad MOOCs) The c MOOC’s foreground social media participation over “content mastery”. Indeed as any content that one has mastered may sooner or later be out-dated and replaced by more up-to-date knowledge, that render a learner to re-learn the latest content.  How to keep up with such information explosion?  Is MOOC the solution?

Based on the principles and concepts of MOOC, it could be used in the case of SOOC where Keith is thinking of and he cites Jim’s conclusion:

The promise of MOOCs is their inclusion in the creative design of individual programs of study for degrees and certificates, and the force that will drive it is the most intimate, natural, and informal sort of dialogue that transpires between teacher and student. In this scenario, the teacher becomes guide, advisor, and facilitator; and the student, an active participant in the planning. Together, they will explore all the learning resources in the world to generate an individualized plan that meets the student’s goals and the college’s standards.

This is similar in principles to those mentoring programs where the teacher acts as mentor, and students as mentee, whilst the networks and learning resources in the world and internet would be explored and used in the generation of such individualized learning plan.

We could scale Online learning up with MOOC – but then the problems, challenges and opportunities scale up too, as I have shared it here on MOOC and online education.

The critical issue for x MOOCs seems to lie with the problem of Cheating and Plagiarism.  Are students learning or cheating in a x MOOC? It seems that such evidences have confirmed that it could be the biggest problem in online assessment, especially when it comes to accreditation of MOOCs and the qualification awarded, if MOOCs are credited towards degrees or equivalent qualifications.

From college students’ perspective, Jordan says:

Another issue I have with MOOCs is that there is no face-to-face interaction. The classroom helps teach interpersonal skills and molds students into better functioning members of our society. If students do all of their learning behind a computer screen, they will not learn the necessary skills for being in a working environment, even if they are learning what is intended to be taught in the lecture.

Being in a full classroom and speaking your mind in front of classmates also builds confidence that will be necessary when selling yourself to a potential employer. Plus, in a MOOC, you cannot interact with fellow classmates. A professor can be the best teacher and know what they are talking about, but this may not be enough to allow all students to absorb the information.

Based on my experience, participants can interact with fellow “classmates”, as revealed in our past researches on CCKs and Plenk MOOC.  The question is: How would one sustain the interaction with fellow participants in MOOCs?   It was noted that there were always more lurkers or “inactive participants” than active participants in most MOOCs.  How to ensure participants are supported and “motivated” in MOOCs, so they could learn and or complete the MOOCs?  Those are the challenges yet to be tackled in MOOCs.

What are the similarities and differences in these kinds of MOOCs – c and x MOOCs?

Networked based, task based, and content based MOOC all have their merits and demerits, as Lisa points out in the three kinds of MOOC.

What I found amazing is these 3 kinds of MOOC have certain attributes in common.  I would compare and contrast the c MOOCs (connectivist), t MOOCs (instructivist and constructivist) and x MOOCs (instructivist)

1. MOOC with PLE/N/LMS based, with a spectrum:

PLE/N – are based on personalized learning with a strong focus on network and community as an affordance of learning.  Here the outcome would be achievement of personal goals, with the fulfillment of personal action plans, and projects or tasks completed.  The blogs, artifacts and PLE (eportfolios etc.) established and developed would be used as evidence of capability, or capacity to “manage personal learning”.  This wiki on youronlineself could be a good starting point to DIY.  Mobile learning and augmented learning based on augmented technology are also learning by DIY with the aid of technology.

LMS – are based on Learning Management System, with a strong focus on forum as an affordance of learning.  Instructure (Canvas). Instructure is the latest LMS used, and MOOCMOOC has also used that as the “centralised” platform, though there are Twitter, and other platforms also in use.

c MOOCs would likely comprise of a combination of PLE/N and or LMS, though the latest trend is to use LMS as a starting point for participants to engage.  Subsequent conversation and activities would be distributed over different spaces, platforms and PLE/Ns.

x MOOC would likely be based principally on a centralized platform, as in the case of Coursera, Udacity and EdX.

2. Role of the educator.  What would be the role of educator in a MOOC in this new era?  Not a teacher, as argued in this post, but a facilitator, an organizer, and a guide. “We are no longer (or should no longer be) in the business of giving information. The information is out there, easily grasped. It’s our job to present it to the students in a way that makes them want to learn themselves.”  Well said.

Number of facilitators in MOOC.  Would the number of “professors”, facilitators in MOOCs make a difference in the “educational and learning outcome” of MOOCs? These range from one professor to a number of professors taking up the principal instructional/facilitation role: Curt Bonk’s MOOC, Jonathan Tomkins’ coming sustainability MOOC,  Jim Groom’s DS106, George Siemens and Stephen Downes’s CCKs, 35 plus guest facilitators’ Change11, etc. (Refer to MOOC on wikipedia on the various MOOCs). More researches are needed to explore the impact of the number of facilitators on the outcome of MOOC.

3. Role of the institutions.  To school or not to school? Roy asks excellent questions: need to think more widely, toward a more inclusive and community oriented education”.  The question is:  How? ”

4. Assessment.  The scope and emphasis of assessment for the cMOOC is significantly different from x MOOC.   If the argument of internet (and part thereof) is the MOOC – online (www.linuxquestions.org), then assessment within a MOOC could be any activity, artifacts completed or conversation held by the learners within the MOOC.  Here Dave argues that the assessment of c MOOC should not be made based on a centralized assessment: “there is no sense, I think, in which it makes sense to assess, in the centralized – this is what to know – sense, a MOOC”

5. Learning theory and pedagogy.  Connectivism (George Siemens and Stephen Downes), Constructivism, and Instructivism

As George mentions in MOOCs are really a platform: “Our MOOC model emphasizes creation, creativity, autonomy, and social networked learning. The Coursera model emphasizes a more traditional learning approach through video presentations and short quizzes and testing. Put another way, cMOOCs focus on knowledge creation and generation whereas xMOOCs focus on knowledge duplication.”

c MOOC: Conversation, dialogues. Connectivism is the key to learning. Learner-centered. Students’ learning based on peer-to-peer, with networks and technology as affordance.  Assessment based on the accomplishment of personal goals, where learners would define and determine its success.

x MOOC:  Lectures and test, as in Coursera and Udacity.  Instructivism is the key to learning. Teacher and teaching-centered. Instructor sage on the stage is the norm, and is therefore expected.  Great teaching determines effective learning.  Assessment based on examinations and assignments, where institutions would define the learning outcomes and determine whether the students have achieved the planned prescriptive outcomes.

One common promise amongst all MOOCs seems to be the provision of education to anyone who are interested in learning around the globe, and to bring learner in as the focus of learning in an MOOC.

The motto at Udacity is: “At Udacity, we put you, the student, at the center of the universe.”

Stephen Downes summarises on c MOOC and its organisation here.  An excellent presentation that captures the essence of MOOC.


A related post on MOOC – world-education-university-looks-ride-mooc-wave-despite-skeptics.

Another interesting post on MOOC that I would like to share and discuss in coming post, from a MOOC professor’s perspective.