MOOC as disruptive technology

Is MOOC disruptive technology?

“Jonathan Schaeffer, the dean of Alberta’s Faculty of Science and a professor of computing science, “It’s easy to build courses that cost lots of money but at the end somehow you’re going to have to recoup those costs either in the short or the long term. It is a gamble, but to me, universities are all about change, and I see MOOCs as being a very important, disruptive technology.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

MOOCs is now conceived as opportunistic education:

(1) to shift the education and business model from the notion that a professor lectures students, to a more collaborative, interactive model where global network of practice and community of practice emerges.

(2) to shift the pedagogy from teacher-centric design in an online education, to a cooperative and collaborative teacher-learners centric design, with an ultimate pedagogy to support human beings and a transformative pedagogy.

(3) to innovate based on technology and media affordance – The use of different media also allows for more individualization and personalization of the learning, better suiting learners with different learning styles and needs.

(4) to re-bundle the value propositions from non-credit to credit bearing courses, with degree granting from institutions.  This would also challenge institutions to re-think about their roles in the Higher Education ecology

In this Who participate in MOOCs and who are the drop-outs? Ry Rivard says:

Phil Hill, an education technology consultant, has come up with four categories of MOOC users: lurkers, drop-ins, passive participants and active participants.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

The MOOC phenomena clearly illustrates a pattern of participation typical with the MOOCs with the 1-10% active, 10-20% passive and 70% lurking or inactive participants throughout the course.

What would MOOC organisers do about it, in boosting engagement and interactivity?  There is now a possibility of using MOOC as a way for credit transfer to a degree – on your first degree course is mooc.  Would such option help in attracting more participants to complete MOOCs?

There have been many guides to the design of MOOCs, some of them based on surveys, like here 40-tips-for-running-an-open-online-course-or-mooc-from-those-who-have-experienced-them, and the MOOC Design guide.

There are some general principles that we may come up with the following questions:

1. What sort of pedagogy should be used to guide and support the technology and tools used?  Should the MOOC be based on Instructivism – behaviorism/cognitivism, social constructivism or connectivism?  Which sort of pedagogy are meeting the students needs and expectations?

2. What sort of platforms – LMS, or Social media, or a combination of personal learning environment/networks are to be incorporated into the design and delivery of the courses?

3. What would be the principal vision and mission of Higher Education Institutions where x or c MOOCs could align with?

There are different views relating to the prior life experience and a degree-based education.

We devalue the formal, degree-based education we offer when we give credit for prior life experience, obscuring the difference between skills that are acquired through practice and education that requires reflective conversation, critical exploration of complex problems, and pursuit of sophisticated knowledge.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

There are MOOCs providers – especially the leaders who hail the peer-to-peer assessment and support that have occurred in the xMOOCs.

The real impact of MOOCs may be in pioneering new instructional techniques that will find their way back on campus, as well as expanding the limits of what’s possible with online education.

Is disruptive technologies the way to go for Higher Education?

What would be the impact of MOOCs on traditional universities (that fail to adapt quickly enough)? See this “wholesale bankruptcies” by Clayton Christensen.

21 thoughts on “MOOC as disruptive technology

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  6. It is interesting the various patterns of student behaviour that is emerging from learner participation (with thousands of students participating there is much data to analyze). This will likely give educators further clues as to how to serve the various students groups within MOOCs. I see that further customization of MOOCS, will be needed to meet the learning needs of the different groups by incorporating learning activities into two tracks or even three.

    Phil Hill as also recently updated his chart on student groups :

    Thanks for always excellent, thought provoking posts with links to articles to read more. 🙂

  7. Thanks Debbie for your kind words. Yes, there is much data. I hope more MOOC providers would share them openly, so we could manage and analyse MOOC by facts and data, not just opinions. There are clues that many students would like to have simpler, easier means of learning, as a response to the complexity and chaotic nature of learning and information overload in MOOCs. This is why some novice students in the HE would still like to be taught by professors, and may be thinking that professors should still be sage on the stage, just like the learning situation in their high school education, especially when these students know too little about the topic. One of the challenges of getting students to start learning more autonomously and independently seems to lie with the notion of responsibility of learning in HE. If we want to see an increase in completion rate, or an improvement in engagement and interactivity, would an emphasis on the personal goal identification, personal responsibility and action plan help? Otherwise, students would just continue learning with the watching of videos, reading the artifacts, and answering quizzes on “multiple choice” and “true/false” sort of passive learning (or mastery learning) by remembering the facts, the right answers to the question, or those explanations by the professors or artifacts. Does it help the students in advancing their metacognitive skills? May be, this would lead students to fall back in the same old way of learning, by rote and surface learning. Why would professors continue their teaching by “telling” the students what the facts are, or by the didactic/Socratic questioning? Most professors would surely confess that: this is the most effective method to transfer and transmit information, straight from the professors to the students, so they could learn and remember by heart. This seems to be the expectations of many students who are here to learn from the best professors, by watching and listening to every moment in the lecture. Is this assumption true? For most students who are fees paying in a formal course, the concept of students (or parents) paying fees to receive a service is still relevant. Based on the economics of education, there is a supply and demand of education, and so the students would only pay for the fees where a certain level of “service” (teaching in the case of education) may be expected. The MOOCs surely is not following such economic logic, and we need a totally different model to explain how the supply and demand works in this case of “zero fees and free education”. I would speculate this would change soon, as education could never be offered totally free, unless there is intervention and sustainable financial support from venture capitalists, charitable institutions and or governments’ support, or community support in its running etc.
    I understand that we are now focusing on great and good teaching, and we need great teachers to educate our next generation. I would however think that professors could influence and inspire the students in many ways, rather than “teaching” the students the facts and information. As pointed out by many educators and professors, what’s the difference between students “googling” and wikipediaing from the information that professors are teaching in those videos? May be learning could be fun if it is learner centered, and is initiated by the learner, where the professor may act as guide on the side (as a mentor, or a personal supporter or coach), so the learner could experience and act on learning.
    I would need to write another post on the economics of education.
    Thanks Debbie for your sharing and insights.

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  9. HI John,

    Ah yes the challenge of getting students, [beginning in high school] to take charge of their own learning. This is where it needs to begin, yet as you said the environment does not lend itself to raising students to think, to learn how to learn (the majority of public schools, though there are exceptions).

    The system is raising up young students for more of the same type of learning once they get to higher ed, some decide this is not for them, and choose another path.

    My youngest two teenagers, 18 and 16, see school as a straightjacket, crushing creativity and not teaching kids how to think. They have many friends that are extremely bright, but don’t try [their viewpoint] as they struggle to jump through the hoops that the system puts up. My 18 year old daughter, a senior, soon to go to college, is frustrated with the teach-to-the test mentality, and finds the only outlet for creative thinking and problem solving in her AP Physics class, and AP literature. However so few kids take these classes, many are already checked out by the time they get to 11th and 12th grade they don’t want to attempt these type of classes.

    And, even though my kids are good students, and have some level of critical thinking skills, I don’t think they would know how to manage, or learn within a MOOC. As you said, we will need to examine the numbers closely when MOOC providers share statistics, as I believe that the many that complete the MOOC already have higher education degrees and some advanced degrees. Much work to be done for educators!

    Good discussion John. Thank you as always!

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  12. Hi Debbie, Your ideas and insights are resonating. That’s exactly why we should dig deeper into this important question: Why aren’t students motivated to learn in certain environments, whilst others could excel? How could we do better in providing and supporting our kids with a better learning environment? How should we encourage and support students in their development of creativity, problem solving and critical thinking? You are right in that there are some statistics indicating that many who completed the MOOC already have higher education degrees and some advanced degrees.
    Thanks Debbie for great sharing 🙂

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