Here is my response to Peter’s nice post on what responsibilities will mooc assume.
Would the important question be? Who are responsible for what when issues emerge in MOOCs?
As I have shared in my post, it seems that duties and responsibilities need to be defined in contracts and agreements under partnership and alliance in MOOC. This might already been done. However, when there are problems arising from design of the platform, or the interaction of participants of MOOC with the MOOC platforms (tools) or professors, the professors would always be the persons to tackle the problems, and likely the ones to be “blamed” if things don’t work, or if there are communication breakdowns between professors and students.
Would professors be focusing mainly on the teaching duties in MOOCs? I reckon most professors would concentrate on their teaching in a face-to-face environment, leaving the other issues on communication or IT problems to the customer service or IT section to resolve. This is where there may be an administrative duty required by the professors when conducting their sessions online.
Would professors be expected to carry out those administrative duties, customer service, IT support, and communication duties (i.e. responding to all students’ questions in the forum, students’ complaints, and resolving any issues related to MOOC and the system)? Are these responsibilities clearly defined for the professors and accepted by them? Do they clearly understand their limits of authorities and responsibilities in a MOOC? Are they ready to accept those challenges when teaching in open spaces?
What are the policies and procedures relating to the duties and responsibilities of the institutions and MOOCs on those areas? Are these guidelines openly available to the professors and students?
This again reinforces the need to develop and implement risk management and contingency plans to mitigate the impact of risks in such cases.
These are systemic issues (see this how not to design a MOOC), in quality terms, when policies and procedures may need to be in place, like those designed and implemented under institutional management, especially in the probing, sensing and responding to undesirable or significant unresolved disputes or failures.
There are however, also demerits such as bureaucracy that may hinder the rapid progress of MOOCs, leading to quick launch and rapid removal of courses once they fail to meet the quality criteria, or fail to resolve the complaints.
What may be an alternative solution?
This is where MOOC with a machine auto-generated features of information and assessment provision might be better off in online education (like the i-tunes, Google search, or the online brokering course platform, and the assessment centres) where the system is to be blamed if there are problems in the access of information and “knowledge”, not any particular professors or persons in a MOOC. However, would this be like an information bank system, where human (professors) are behind the scene educators using AI to deliver the education and teaching?
In the case of MOOCs where there aren’t much channels of “feedback” on their system, especially when people are reminded they are actually receiving their education for free, what else would you expect from our professors and institutions?
This may be different if education is costing the “consumers” and students in a formal course, as there are certain duty of care which has to be exercised by the authority under a formal education system.
If MOOCs are treated merely as experiments or taster courses, with no frills obligation, is it still an issue?
May be there are important lessons here, not only in duties and responsibilities, but the ultimate vision and mission of the institutions, governments, and the meeting of the needs and expectations of the participants and professors, the institutions and the MOOC providers.
This is a multi-party education provision with an open to interpretation relationship where each party has a role to play, though such roles are not easily defined clearly in all cases, and quality of education needs to be re-defined beyond mere teaching online.
Would professors need to be supported in MOOCs? Are course design and pedagogy an issue (due to the differences in pedagogy and expectations between learners and professors)? These are all hard questions without an absolute answer.
What are the assumptions of the institutions, professors and learners in quality, design of course, technology used, and pedagogy in MOOCs?