A great, a good and a poor MOOC. Is that what we are racing against?

This Rethinking Race Against the Machines by John Hagel provides an insightful perspective of how technology is impacting on us.

“John Hagel says we have designed jobs in the U.S. that tend to be “tightly scripted,” “highly standardized,” that leave no room for “individual initiative or creativity.” In short, these are the types of jobs that machines can perform much better at than human beings. That is how we have put a giant target sign on the backs of American workers, Hagel says.”

I have been thinking about how these concepts could be applied in the case of Higher Education, and MOOCs (xMOOCs) in particular.  If we believe that MOOCs can perform much better than human beings in the education business, then surely a lot of jobs (teaching in particular) will be lost, and would be taken care of by xMOOCs as I have shared here and here.

Are MOOCs far less effective than a good teacher?

Do we really need that many teachers for teaching in MOOCs, as there could be lots of duplication of efforts when the courses are run again.  Is it really the case?   What are the assumptions behind such arguments?  MOOCs may be the solutions in some domains where automation in teaching and assessment is possible, but could be a huge challenge when it comes to contextualization, as it could involve huge investment in personalization of education and learning (i.e. one to one or one to some mentoring support).

I don’t think the scenarios mentioned in the video of my previous post would happen, as higher education would still be in the reign of Higher Education Institutions, though there could be MOOCs running in conjunction with the HEs.  Moreover, we are racing with the technology afforded from the internet, but then our fundamental values of University based education would not be easily changed.  There might be a transformation in terms of a shift in education focus – in that it is more inclined to be learner-based learning in higher education, especially when people found that the traditional lecturing, one size suits all doesn’t help the learners in the long run.

A great MOOC would leave the learners with a set of learning strategies that the learners would benefit for life.  I have suggested some of the features of those great MOOCs here

A good MOOC would provide certain skills for the learners to get a job, but such literacy and skills might not be transferable to other domains, as there is no guarantee that the learners know how to do so, and so the learners have to keep on doing other courses to keep up with the literacy required for other jobs.  That may be a good thing for both providers and learners as that is a win win solution still.

A poor MOOC would leave the learners with vague and poor experience of education and learning, and these MOOCs are likely those which don’t address the needs of the educators and learners, as the MOOC providers may only be interested in focusing on making profits, and not education.  I don’t want to mention any examples here, but you could make your own judgment on who they are.

What may be the impression of the existing MOOC movement?

The post here on moocs mass education and the mcdonaldization of higher education provides some clues on the great, the good and poor moocs, whereas:

But, let’s be clear what this means: thousands of students across the world taking the same course, with the same content, from the same instructor. And that is the problem. MOOC’s are now at the forefront of the McDonaldization of higher education.

In an era when higher education is making significant advances in becoming global and helping to build educational capacity within developing nations, MOOC’s play the center against the periphery. They strengthen the ivory towers by enabling a few elite institutions to broadcast their star courses to the masses from the comfort of their protected perches.

The great and good MOOCs may be associated with the elite institutions, but then what would be the role of the other higher education institutions in other countries?  Are they going to play the role of supporting the elite institutions?  This seems to be a challenge for both professors and institutions as revealed in this post on Online Courses Put Pressure on Universities in Poorer Nations.

If we are to ensure that all MOOCs are good to great ones, then there would be huge investments necessary to build up the infrastructure, at least for xMOOCs?  This would not be easy for those universities in developing countries, as they might not have the resources and capacity to do so.  Would that end up with somewhat mediocre MOOCs offered by some institutions or providers, especially when there aren’t enough technology and financial support to the professors and instructors?

What are the alternatives other than the universities offering the MOOCs?  See this paper for suggestions on Consortium.

Any comments?

What sort of MOOCs would emerge in the coming future?

Thanks jenny for sharing her views and experience in her post here on OLDSMOOC.  I am interested in knowing the OLDSMOOC though won’t be working on a project.  I think we have now come up with a gap in between c and x MOOCs as it seems that they are coming from two different universes. The prescribed and emergent learning in any course could be charted out, as this footprints of emergence have delineated. The reality is that there isn’t enough connection (or conduit) in between the two sort of MOOCs, leading to “island” of technology automation (where one is teacher-centred, and the other more inclined to be learner-centred).  The reason that I bring this out is that this could be confusing for the participants of the MOOC, in particular the educators if they don’t have a thorough understanding of the pedagogy and curriculum design of the MOOCs.

Currently, it seems obvious that most, if not all xMOOCs (i.e. Coursera, edX, Udacity) are based on an instructivist approach, whilst cMOOCs are based on a connectivist approach.  There are certain MOOCs which seem to be based on an instructivist/constructivist approach.

The cMOOCs:

amusement park

The xMOOCs

MOOC images (1) 4 Nov 12

free-open

EdTech 2x2 MOOC-thumb-960x720-3458

The challenge is: we don’t seem to be guided by a thorough research paradigm which is empirically based, when developing these MOOCs along those lines, as I have suggested in my research proposal here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am re-posting here for reference.

My suggested assumptions in MOOC include:

  • people would learn in a self-directed manner
  • Knowledge is distributed
  • Knowledge is negotiated
  • Knowledge is emergent
  • Knowledge is rhizomatic (thanks to Dave’s video posted – refer to How to be successful in MOOC?)
  • Learning is capacity to construct, navigate and traverse across networks
  • personal learning networks would be a far better way for people to learn
  • people like to learn via social networks
  • people know how to connec(people have the communication, literacy and critical literacy skills)
  • people know how to use the technology to connect
  • people are self motivated (intrinsic motivation)
  • people like to accept challenges, chaos and complexity is just part of the learning process
  • people don’t need to follow a course or qualification for learning to be effective
  • Learning is emergent, and is based on connections, engagement and interactions
  • Learning is open
  • Identity in networked learning is based on individual’s “participation, interaction” in the networks, and is reflective of ones involvement in the media, it’s dynamic, adaptive
  • Individual and social learning is emphasised – cooperation
  • Sensemaking and wayfinding are important
whereas on the other hand, the more formal or traditional education/learning approach or even the online approach of:
  • people need to learn in a structured manner, in a course (face to face or online), with teacher’s instruction (zpd) zone of proximal development,
  • people construct knowledge via a constructivist pedagogy – with an expert.
  • Knowledge is acquired
  • Learning is about acquisition of knowledge, skills and experience
  • people like to learn with Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • people prefer to learn independently (in a closed environment) (behind the walls in schools) or learn collaboratively in a group or team
  • people don’t have enough skills, knowledge and experience to use technology to connect,formal training/education is the solution
  • people don’t want chaos, complexity – don’t want to be overwhelmed with information or knowledge
  • people need to be motivated with rewards (extrinsic motivation)
  • people need to follow a course or qualification for learning to be effective
  • Learning is based on instruction by the teachers
  • Learning is closed (in a closed classroom or closed online network)
  • Identity is based on the association of oneself as a student or that of the group – it’s static
  • Group learning is emphasised – collaboration
  • Teaching and close mentoring are important
I need to think more about the above, whether my assumptions about both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will affect how people face challenges, technology and connecting / relating to others.
The above statements are just set to be a “polarised” one, and these are just my first thoughts.  I need to draw a mind map to show the relationship at a later stage, once I have re-visited our research papers on Blogs and Forums as Communication and Learning Tools in a MOOC and The Ideals and Reality of Participating in a MOOC.
If you felt comfortable with idea, it may be fun to collaborate together using a shared workspace for mind / concept map or drawing tool.
Besides, there are many other factors and concepts on learning that need to be included in this research.
I think it could be interesting to conduct research on PLENK2010 based on our experience and involvement in CCK08/CCK09/edfutures/CritLit2010.
I am not sure if we could thresh out some research questions, as a follow up study of CCK08.
Suggested title:
Essential critical success factors in the design and delivery of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Note: based on PLENK2010/CCK09 experience
Research questions:
1. What are the design factors in an open online course?  (Consider the connectivist principles)
2. What are the delivery factors in an open online course?
3. How would educators and participants evaluate an open online course (PLENK2010)?
Based on the various reports and blog postings on xMOOCs, I could come up with the following features for typical xMOOCs:
more formal or traditional education/learning approach or even the online approach of:
  • people need to learn in a structured manner, in a course (face to face or online), with teacher’s instruction (zpd) zone of proximal development,
  • people construct knowledge via a constructivist pedagogy – with an expert.
  • Knowledge is acquired
  • Learning is about acquisition of knowledge, skills and experience
  • people like to learn with Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • people prefer to learn independently (in a closed environment) (behind the walls in schools) or learn collaboratively in a group or team
  • people don’t have enough skills, knowledge and experience to use technology to connect, formal training/education is the solution
  • people don’t want chaos, complexity – don’t want to be overwhelmed with information or knowledge
  • people need to be motivated with rewards (extrinsic motivation) – this is achieved through the award of a “certificate”
  • people need to follow a course or qualification for learning to be effective
  • Learning is based on instruction by the teachers (short videos, quizzes, discussion boards facilitated by professors/teaching assistants)
  • Learning is closed (in a closed classroom or closed online network) (though it could be open when groups are established in certain social media platforms – FB groups, twitter etc.)
  • Identity is based on the association of oneself as a student or that of the group – it’s static ( this is evidenced only in some cases, as it seems that participants are associated with the course, or the xMOOC providers, and particular groups formed based on certain languages, or countries)
  • Group learning is emphasised – collaboration

I think the future MOOCs would likely be based on connected MOOCs, with some common features of both x and c MOOCs in order to thrive, though we have an urgent need to conduct further research to validate those hypothesis and assumptions.