My reflection on MOOCs

Here is my response to Debbie of my previous post.

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, especially for those novice students, or those undergraduate students?

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 to the same old way of learning, by rote and surface learning.

We also realize that the identification of personal goals, personal responsibility and action plan may sound complicated for many participants of MOOCs, especially for those adult educators and learners who attend MOOCs with their own particular purpose, and that there may not be a need for them to do these.  Indeed, some of the educators and professors are merely auditing or exploring what other professors are doing in xMOOCs, so they could then better understand about the merits and demerits of MOOCs and thus be able to learn through such experience.  For adult learners who are learning the MOOC out of interests or passion, there might not be any particular need for them to develop elaborate goals and plans.  What they may be looking for would be some parts of MOOCs that could interest them, and so they could interact and engage with the content or others in their learning journey.

Why would professors continue their teaching by “telling” the students what the facts are/or by the didactic lecturing and or 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.

Here is another response on FB:

@Yelena McManaman Yes, the current xMOOCs follow the format of the regular university courses – lectures with quizzes, homework assignments and tests etc. If that is what you want, wonderful. Where is the revolution? What is really revolutionized? Are there much changes from how we were educated? Not much. There is an assumption that the professors would teach all what they know to the students, and the students to learn them all in the video lectures. How about the actual needs, motivations and expectations of the students? Who are they? What are their background experience? How do they learn? These are all assumed to be “wonderfully” matched in a MOOC.

cMOOC is soft technology but is hard, as it requires lots of work – creation of artifacts, critical thinking and reflection and academic discourse, with PLE/PLN.

xMOOCs is based on hard technology (with automation in assessment, grading, direct teaching) and relates more to a teacher-centered approach, where you are just like watching a movie in cinema, or a movie show on TV, enjoying the rock star professors’ performance. You could learn a lot of information from such a show.

Surely, if you were the rockstar professors, you would also like to do the same, is it right?

So, it’s your choice, and your learning, and that is important.

One thought on “My reflection on MOOCs

  1. Pingback: My reflection on MOOCs | CUED |

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