What does a World Class MOOC look like?

The most important aspect of education – quality and value of education seems to be on the spotlight AGAIN.

What does a World Class MOOC look like?  Would it be based on the current xMOOCs – edX, Udacity, Coursera, or the cMOOCs?  Here is the list of MOOCs provided by the best universities and entities.

Relating to the post:

some initial research objectives: finding out who the several thousand students who completed early MOOCs are (among the hundred thousand or more who registered) and how students use the many learning choices presented to them in a online courses whose pace they may control; conducting learning assessments; and exploring how to assure integrity among online learners.

Rita Kop, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and various other researchers have conducted extensive researches into MOOCs.   Such researches have pointed out the idiosyncratic nature of learning under a MOOC platform and networked learning environment.

It is really difficult to generalise what works best for the MOOC participants, as they could be coming from a diverse background, and so no single learning approach would work for all MOOCs.

It is however, imperative to place more emphasis on learner and learning centered pedagogy, rather than the traditional didactic instructivist pedagogy in MOOCs, though some of the novices in MOOCs may easily get accustomed to the consumption of knowledge and assessment by testing paradigm.

To professors steeped in seminars, tutorials, and humanistic disciplines where learning assessments are qualitative, the MOOC model can seem a repudiation of proven means of teaching and mentorship.

cMOOCs could support mentorship, though such mentorship would take on various forms, where the professors would be guide on the side, rather than sage on the stage.  This could be new to most in-campus professors who are used to having regular face-to-face meetings with their students.

However, the use of technology like Skype, Google Hangout, or mobile online phone calls using ipads and iphones could be used to conduct those mentoring sessions.  So, mentoring could still be achieved with massive number of students, though it would be limited to a few to be in reach of the professor, especially for those who are only registered for the course, and not “paid” students in the universities.

edX is explicitly meant to extend teaching broadly, for those who are interested, and to devise techniques to improve on-campus, class-based learning in all disciplines and formats. Part of its experimental nature is to devise tools, such as online laboratories for science classes, but also qualitative assessments of coursework—including, for instance, the caliber of computer scientists’ programming. Students in MOOCs seem to be self-assembling into small discussion groups, online and off. No one has figured out a sustainable business model yet, but it is nascent.

MOOCs are self-organising and so when a MOOC is super-imposed in an institutional model, there would be various constraints that limit the growth and development of the MOOCs participants, which may contradict or conflict with the desire of individuals’ learning pathways.  Besides, an overly teacher-centered and a push toward mastery learning may lead to various conflicts, such as those arguments about fairness in peer assessments, identity issues and plagiarism accusations.

The recent MOOCs challenges well illustrates the fundamental issue lies with the xMOOC design and pedagogy.  It seems that the lack of a clear business model could also overshadow the design and delivery of MOOCs, especially when there aren’t any easy way of resolving those disputes or mitigating the risks when problems emerged in open spaces, with massive number of students.

Tony Bates posted here on harvards current thinking on moocs:

What is disappointing is the continual lack of recognition of the research, design and best practices that have come from earlier work on online learning. Frankly, this shows a lack of scholarship that would not be tolerated in other disciplines – and it is coming from those very institutions that place most emphasis on scholarship. They should be incorporating best online practices into MOOCs – as far as the format allows – before throwing them at learners. But that would mean acknowledging that MOOCs are an evolution of online teaching, and not something new invented by Ivy League universities. – See more at: http://www.tonybates.ca/2013/02/14/harvards-current-thinking-on-moocs/#sthash.0VJ3ZX08.dpuf

First, trying to translate face-to-face to online education requires a totally different approach.  Flipping the classroom is still based on classroom delivery.  For those educators who would prefer to adopt a blended learning approach, such flipping the classroom may enhance the learning experience of the local students, though this is still based on the premises that students are motivated to do the pre-reading of artifacts or watching of the video lectures before coming to class.  Otherwise, the face-to-face class would quickly become another lecture based class, with teacher explaining through all the basic principles before any in-depth discussion or activities could be held.

Alternatively, the use of project or problem based learning might augment the lecture based approach, where students are exploring all learning outside the class, with classroom used mainly for presentation and sharing of learning emerged from the projects or problem-based learning activities.

Second, online education involves mobile learning, emergent pedagogy and a blend of e-mentorship & networked learning, which may be new to even the best professors in the world.  This may seem to be one of the challenges for professors who have been used to mass lecture, as the use of mobiles may be considered a distractor in class, or simply undesirable if the focus of learning is lost in the class lecture.

Online education often requires a shift from a teacher-centered approach to a complete learner-centered approach, especially under a MOOC environment. As revealed in my previous post here, the more appealing x MOOC  would be to support and empower the learners to take charge and responsibility of learning themselves.

There is also little leeway in negotiation when massive number of learners and students are involved in MOOCs, as each participant is different in their learning goals, needs and expectations from MOOCs.  Trying to develop programs to suit everyone’s needs is simply mission impossible, especially from a teacher-centered approach of education and an instructivist pedagogy.

In this post on MOOCs by Paul:

University of Pennsylvania Professor Peter Struck shares his thoughts on what MOOCs will do, won’t do and might do: – See more at: http://edudemic.com/2013/01/what-moocs-will-wont-and-might-do/#sthash.eZ18ttRQ.dpuf:

There seems to be a lot of uncertainties and doubts about the effectiveness of xMOOCs in improving education and learning, in accordance to Professor Peter Struck.

So, what may be an alternative approach towards such online education and learning with MOOCs?

The connectivist approach towards learning are far more enriching and embracing, with divergent networks and platforms as support, where distributed learning is reinforced from different expert sources, and may be even different MOOCs blended together to provide the experience. It could be fascinating, though I would argue that there won’t be any best practice model in business or teaching practice, as it is all relative to the cost, value-added and the vision and mission of the institution and the individual’s perception of learning in the ever-changing world.

If we continue to measure and evaluate learning as we used to based on a traditional competency based education and learning outcomes approach, then MOOCs would only be best modelled on a prescriptive and knowledge transfer model based on mastery learning.  Are all learning objectives measurable in MOOCs?  Would xMOOCs pass the measurable learning objectives criteria under a Quality Management framework?

If we are to enrich the curriculum and embrace the emergent education and learning approach, then learning would be based on a combination of community and personalised learning model, where each learner would develop their own personalised learning, based on their personal vision and mission, and contributing to the overall network and social capital with emergent knowledge and learning.  There may be a need to consider alternative assessment models using ICT in MOOCs.

Such distributed knowledge capitals are the outcomes of individual blogs, tweets, where conversation and interaction forms the basis of discourse, and a complete new dimension of learning emerged both within and beyond the institutional boundary, throughout the networks.

As shared in my previous posts on quality and value of MOOCs, it depends on what you (or your institution) would like to achieve with a MOOC.

Helping each others – that’s MOOC!

Interesting introduction to MOOCs.  MOOCs are about helping each others, learning through socialization and active engagement and interaction with networks and artifacts, and completing assignments and examinations (especially with xMOOCs).

There seems to be a huge difference in the take-in of assessment. Previous researches in cMOOCs indicate that assessment were ranked last in terms of importance.  xMOOCs stress on assessment, mainly because they have to comply with the requirements for formal certification and accreditation.

Interesting to learn about formalising peer assessment based on grading and rubrics.  Auto-grading with quizzes and MC or T/F might be viewed as an objective method of assessment, though peer assessment could be a challenge for both the professors and most students of MOOCs, mainly because of the difference in perceptions and how each others’ work are evaluated, based on personal skills and experience.  Would this be applicable to graduate and PhD’s assessment?  Why/why not?