What are missing in MOOC research?

MOOC is here to stay!

Reference to Peter Sloep’s comments on this post on Google Plus and Scoop.it

Good reflection on MOOCs.  How about research into MOOCs?

There are missing elements – learners’ needs (and motivation), pedagogy (from both teachers and learners’ perspectives) and openness which seems fundamental and universal in most Higher Education system, but not thoroughly addressed, as most posts published in those newspapers have been written from the perspectives of news reporters, senior executives or CEO, professors, administrators and researchers, but not much by teachers and learners.

As I shared in my posts, the learners’ needs may be segmented in accordance to a few categories – (a) those who are in high school, but would like to advance their knowledge or have some remedial knowledge through KA or preliminary courses in university, (b) those who are looking for university or degree education, (c) those who are graduates, and would like to use MOOC to further their professional development, and (d) those who are interested in life-long and continuing education, and (e) those who are retired or just have an interest in the course (MOOC).  Such diverse needs would also require different pedagogies – instructivist approach for those novice of (a), (b), a mix of social constructivist and or connectivist approaches for (c), (d) and (e).  Openness could be difficult to define, though would likely be based on individual’s preference.

Unfortunately, there aren’t much research findings (from xMOOCs) published on these areas, leading to lots of posts basing only on expert’s knowledge and experience, but not much on empirical and statistical findings as evidences to support those assertions and assumptions.

I did researches on cMOOCs and published findings based on empirical data, rather than the mere use of blog posts or basic statistics as reported in blogs.  It seems that without those empirical data, we are just best speculating on the trend, but that these are not yet fully reflective of the “reality”.  Besides, if we are to ask people what serves them best, they would likely tell you what is available now for free (like instructivist approach) where the instructors might have curated all information, taught what is required for the quizzes, assignments, and examination, leaving the learners to consume what is presented.  This would surely satisfy the requirements for the course, from an institutional perspective, and all auditors’ requirements.  However, that would only cover the procedural knowledge and at best declarative knowledge which is known and could be tested and assessed by automated system.

There is not much emphasis on generative and creative knowledge, as they are not tested or assessed (or cannot be assessed), and there aren’t much progress in this area, simply because social constructivism and connectivism may only be given a light touch in those MOOCs, where the professors have no time to interact or connect with each of the participants (i.e. it is impossible with tens of thousands of students).  This is again based on the assumptions that learners would learn better using different pedagogies which may only be valid with empirical findings and validation.

Photo: Google image

research implications images


What do you think?