In MOOCs: More is less and less is more (Part 3)

What would eventually emerge and evolve as a result of these xMOOCs, and what are the impact of them on Higher Education Institutions?

There may be more surprises on MOOCs (from many of those who seemed to be surprised with MOOCs based on the various twitter posts) and the associated discourses.

I am not too surprised with the ubiquitous proliferation of MOOCs in the past few months, especially when MOOCs have attracted hundreds of thousands or even million of students to their courses (see this on Udacity and Coursera).

Most students formally registered or enrolled with their Higher Education Institutions would likely sign up with the MOOCs because that would allow them to have more choices, and to have a “taste” of what MOOCs are like, when learning totally online. MOOCs have been around for a few years since 2008.

Most of the happenings in the current xMOOC were typical of that of the MOOCs, except this time they all came from Institutions and Providers of Higher Education.  Besides, they are all instructivist in nature, and so to me, there aren’t much differences in terms of the way the instructions are given.

May be, the online approach with flipping the class is what one claims to be different! There are more praises from different stakeholders on the choices of MOOCs offered, but also lots of criticisms on the pedagogy involved in certain x MOOCs.

What are x MOOCers responses?

Eric who is teaching a MOOC shares his experience in this post.

Not only do the participants teach each other, they teach me.  Networked across the world, they deepen my understanding of community, expand my understanding of teaching.  More importantly, they prove that global community in the context of a course is truly possible.

A critique on xMOOC – Udacity in this post by Delta on his experience tells a different story.  He highlights ten problems with the course on Statistics of Udacity.  Though it is one sample from the course, it seems that there are lots of challenges when delivering a MOOC and that there are still plenty of rooms for improvement.

Why do students flock to MOOC in this post provides 4 MOOC students’ perspectives which all sound positive.  There are students’ responses on MITx prototype course.  It would be helpful to see more testimonials on such x MOOCs to reveal their strengths and weaknesses though.

What are some Community College Administrators’ response?

This post on confessions-community-college-dean Dean says:

Strong, well-prepared students will do just fine without much help, but most students coming out of the k-12 systems that actually exist don’t fit that mold.  They need structure, and support, and a fair amount of customized, human interaction to be successful.  I know humanists hate this phrase, but that would be the ‘’value-add” of colleges. Read more: Inside Higher Ed

That sounds a good idea, in that college instructors would respond by providing structure and support through mentoring and personalized learning delivery to add value in learning.

How about the demographics of x MOOCs – edX?

A glimpse on edX   edx-explores-demographics-most-persistent-mooc-students.  Many students in the x MOOCs have certain mastery of the subjects or learning, and so they would likely be more capable in completing the course.  There are however still a lot of unknown on those who didn’t complete the course.

MOOC as new business model

The learning itself tends to be more pragmatic, with a skills/mastery rather than an understanding/practice focus, and there is a clear demarcation between tutor as source of knowledge and student as consumer. To me,  it is this revolutionary strand of MOOCs that is reinforcing the traditional model of education,  and the institutionally-based pedagogic experiments of people like Jim Groom, Jonathan Worth and Stephen Downes that are challenging it.

Are the x MOOCs reinforcing the traditional model of education? If that is the case, it seems the revolutionary claim to be a paradox, as revolution does mean the destruction of an existing “model” to construction of a new and emerging model.  May be the revolution start with the business model, rather than the pedagogical model.

As mentioned in my previous post (Part 2)

Capture Value:  Different business models will emerge for MOOCs in the future. The unbundling of learning, credentials, social interaction, facility access, and assessment will make it possible for institutions to establish new business models. For example, an institution may provide online courses for free, but build a “headhunting” business model by recommending top-performing learners to employers; another institution may establish some local testing centers and offer fee based assessment services to those MOOC users who want to get a credential.   Also, most MOOCs are free today, but in the future some premium content will be added for a fee (freemium).    Even more creative pricing models can be explored.  For example, the students may pay $10 to enroll in a course, but get a refund if they complete the course and pass the assessment.

This would also challenge the ‘traditional model of education’, and so not every institution would “survive” or cope with the “revolutionary” business model.  Those who have difficulties in embracing the new models would likely “fail”.

How educators view MOOCs?

Bonnie’s post on MOOC where she says:

MOOCs will not inherently gut faculty positions in higher education. They do not have automation and robot grading built into their conceptual structure. They certainly offer the capacity for these things, if backed by scale and prestige and neoliberal values of efficiency and market niche domination: they offer the potential to look like disruptive innovation while consolidating the market interests of elite brands within higher education. Udacity’s partnership with Pearson? Perhaps a case in point.

I wonder if x MOOCs are moving exactly in this direction, where automated “teaching” through short videos lectures with quizzes and automatic grading has become the norm for nearly most courses on offer, especially needed to support the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled.  Efficiency and effectiveness of learning would only happen through technology and automation in teaching, as revealed in the numerous “successful MOOCs” like the AI and Machine Learning.  Repeating successes seem to be based on repeating the teaching and learning processes via xMOOCs.

I think there are lots of emotional responses in this post on dear-google-chairmain-ericscmidt-you-are-wrong-about-educators. There are tens of millions of educators who have contributed to the education, and if we are to consider what educators could contribute to education, then surely we would likely see more innovative and creative practices be in place if such educators are funded and supported in their teaching practice, or via the MOOCs.

Doug discusses about the problems of MOOCs here where he states:

The question some people ask is, are MOOCs and similar ventures the future of education?  Are they going to replace degrees and courses?  Are instructors going to lose their jobs?  To me that’s like asking if horseless carriages are going to replace horses.  Maybe they will replace degrees one day, but if they do, I don’t think they’ll still be referred to as MOOCs, and perhaps not even as “courses,” just as we no longer refer to cars as horseless carriages.  And unlike horses, instructors and the profession of instruction (teaching and professors) can adapt – away from a traditional delivery of content model and perhaps toward a model of designing and refining and facilitating learning experiences.

These are critical questions where we still have to wait and see.  Instructors have to adapt in order to thrive in the future online learning environment, for sure.

What are the challenges of MOOCs?

I would like to re-post part of previous post on Learning from MOOCs.  There are still big issues of Cheating that are of concerns to all institutions and educators.

May be the biggest challenges lie with whether MOOCs are sustainable from an economical point of view.  This depends on the business model employed in MOOCs as mentioned above on Business models.

What pedagogy is used in MOOCs?

In x MOOCs the only pedagogy used seems to be the instructivist approach still with mastery learning and a focus on content mastery – Udacity and Coursera (see Lisa’s post on the 3 kinds of MOOCs).  However, an analysis from the various feedback above all indicate a combination of various pedagogy being used by both the professors and participants.  To what extent would this lead to a new pedagogy?

What about Remedial MOOCs?

In this Gates foundation solicits remedial MOOCs, there are invitations to propose MOOCs aimed to provide remedial teaching (and relevant support) for those learners who might struggle with the online learning.  These may be especially useful for those who couldn’t cope with the mainstream structure face-to-face teaching, and may require more personalized learning via specifically designed MOOC.

What would be the Future of Higher Education?

Whilst we have more MOOCs emerging and evolving, what would happen if some MOOCs succeeded and some failed? What we need are those MOOCs which would sustain the test of time, those MOOCs of ages, rather than MOOCs which could apparently fix a short term crisis in education when the whole education business is subject to severe competition and a quest for efficiency. We have seen too many businesses failed in the past, and so it wouldn’t be surprised to find lots of failures in MOOCs  in a fragile global economy.  That is a reality.

In conclusion, there are different responses to MOOCs, from different perspectives, with some very positive experiences, and others less than positive in MOOCs.  x MOOCs would have a long term impact on Higher Education Institutions, educators and learners.  There are concerns about its business models and whether they are sustainable in the future.  Time will tell if such x MOOCs would evolve into a different form of MOOC that is aligned with the future Higher Education and Learning.

Postscript: See this post “Stanford-u-releases-new-open-source-online-education-platform.

Photo: Credit from Google image

I don’t think I have given x MOOCs a full justice in terms of coverage, analysis, and evaluations in the past Part 1, Part 2 and this current Part 3 on MOOCs.

There are more tips on a better MOOCs experience here.