#CFHE12 #Oped12 Has MOOC changed the world?

MOOC – a term which stands for mysterious though open course seems to have changed some part of the world, in 2012.

Has MOOC changed the world?

Is MOOCs successfully transforming education, and Higher Education particularly?  Some think MOOCs are already picking up the momentum towards transforming HE.

A year ago, hardly anybody knew the term MOOC. But the internet-based courses offered by elite universities through Coursera, by a consortium led by Harvard and MIT called edX, and by others, are proving wildly popular, with some classes attracting hundreds of thousands of students.

In a field known for glacial change, MOOCs have landed like a meteorite in higher education, and universities are racing for a piece of the action.

The question now is what the MOOCs will ultimately achieve. Will they simply expand access to good instruction (no small thing)? Or will they truly transform higher education, at last shaking up an enterprise that’s seemed incapable of improving productivity, thus dooming itself to ever-rising prices?

Was the term MOOC hardly known to anybody last year?  I can’t represent the rest, but it seemed that there are many who have known MOOC well before 2011.  I learnt about MOOC from George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier back in 2008.

If MOOCs have landed like a meteorite in higher education, back in 2008, would we be in a different universe? I am not sure if that is disruptive or sustainable technology then, back a few years ago.

What would MOOCs ultimately achieve?  Up till now, it seems that more and more universities are interested in joining in the bandwagon.  Coursera have got more than 2 millions students, and edX have more than 400,000 students from different countries of the world. Is that a triumph for HE?

How do you find the evaluations of MOOCs?  The participants of xMOOCs have all given a perfect 10 here.  Congratulations to the professors who have contributed to the education of the participants of MOOCs.

If xMOOCs are appealing to those learners, surely if we are to conduct a research on those MOOCs, then these participants would likely provide the same findings.

That is also one reason why conducting research on xMOOCs is so difficult, as we won’t be able to generalize the findings based on a small sample of responses.  Besides, having great feedback is wonderful from the research point of view, but may not provide any concrete suggestions for improvements in terms of pedagogy or technology.  Why?  If participants are already satisfied with the existing pedagogy in MOOCs, why change?

That also explains why there is so little change in pedagogy after years of researches, simply because people have accustomed to the way they lecture or teach, and so do the students, who are accustomed to the way they learn – by lectures, and more lectures by the professors.   Isn’t it true that most teachers are employed to teach, in lectures?  Teachers are also evaluated on how they could teach their students, in the most effective way, in class.

However, in a world where continuous improvement and innovation in teaching and learning is emphasized, teaching well is only part of the solution, and could be one of the myths that we still don’t quite understand.

See this post on good versus great teaching.  So what does it mean to be a great teacher or great teaching in MOOCs (xMOOCs or cMOOCs)?  Are MOOCs still based on instructivism and teaching to the content?

Relating to quality assurance in HE, MOOCs may unlikely be able to pass any health checks using the quality audit.  Why?  The low completion rates and lack of indication of “learning” and interaction between teachers and students could be perceived as the main weakness with such a MOOC system in place, and could cast a serious doubt on the design and delivery of online education in meeting the quality standards.  (See this paper on MOOCs)

‘most countries around the world have quality assurance agencies for higher education. One of the criteria quality auditors and assessors take seriously is the rate of course and degree completion, partly to ensure value for the investment of public funds and partly to protect students from poor practice. Improving retention and completion has been a special concern for distance learning institutions and open universities. They take the view that students seek not merely access, but access to success, which the institution should do everything to facilitate while maintaining standards. Against this background the current xMOOC completion rates of 10% or less would be considered disastrous anywhere else’. However, he also suggests that ‘caveat emptor [buyer beware] should be the motto for anyone dealing with xMOOC certificates’ as ‘xMOOCs certificates offer juicy opportunities to degree and accreditation mill rackets’.

Apart from the quality assurance issue, there are certain merits with MOOCs, where professors could learn from, through teaching with MOOCs.  Interesting to note on the experience sharing in this birth of a MOOC.  May be xMOOCs are still new to most university students.  In this regard, MOOCs have changed the behavior of professors of universities, where more professors are upfront in the video presentation with shorter clips, fast and efficient talk, and quizzes to check on students’ understanding.  That seems to have blended mastery learning in a fast paced mode once heralded in those “crash course” workshop.

Here MOOC providers such as Coursera and Udacity have added their services as match maker, assisting both the participants and employers to match each others. Such employment broking not only help the employers in finding their best fit employees, but also providing a revenue stream to the institution.  MOOCs are more than what they are about, a course.  Is it life changing?

What have we learnt from MOOCs?  Clay Shirky remarks here.

Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC), and our Napster is Udacity, the education startup.

Who have taught us all these? Our experience? Our history?


5 thoughts on “#CFHE12 #Oped12 Has MOOC changed the world?

  1. You are right, we have reached a junction and how traditional higher education reacts will determine their future. Will they react with the times, like Amazon to the dropping demand for tangible books and leverage their core competancies? Or will we see a Nokia style sluggish reaction, with their origins from rubber manufacture and skills in hardware, struggling to adapt to the software age. Most Moocs lack credibility and most universities lack agility. The path of partnerships and the growth of MOOCs is surely laid out infront of every tech savvy dean


  2. Pingback: #CFHE12 #Oped12 Who knows the future? A quest on the FUTURE of HIGHER EDUCATION | Learner Weblog

  3. Pingback: Has MOOC changed the world? | Easy MOOC | Scoop.it

  4. Pingback: Has MOOC changed the world? | MOOC News Collection | Scoop.it

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