MOOCs and the future of Higher Education

Would xMOOCs revolutionize Higher Education?

Here in MOOCs on the move: How Coursera is disrupting the traditional classroom, the question could be: Would such disruption lead to better education and learning in HE?  What are the impacts of these movements on educators and learners at a social, psychological and behavioral level?

There are lots of posts praising the greatness of MOOCs.  This one on massive-open-online-courses-transform-higher-education-and-science highlights that xMOOCs is transforming Higher Education and Science.  See this post too.

So, what would be the future of MOOCs and Higher Education?

Dave posted this Where do you see online education in 20 years? where he shares his concerns about MOOCs.

Dave predicts the 4 scenarios:

Case 1 – MOOC kills higher education

Case 2 – Analytics university

Case 3 – Corporate takeover

Case 4 – Community university

I see MOOCs as a phenomena based on Swarm Intelligence and Opportunistic Education, which is now “viewed” as a hype and disruptive innovation and technology to Higher Education.

How do people think about xMOOCs?

After watching this video, I started to realize that US does have a culture of “appreciation” as Tal mentioned, when promoting MOOCs.  The message could be simple: “If we don’t appreciate MOOCs, we would depreciate MOOCs”

Since the introduction of xMOOCs in 2011, I could sense a lot of gratitude and appreciation by the public media and many participants of xMOOCs.  See my collection of posts here.

There are lots of critics and media coverage on the “appreciation AND depreciation of MOOCs”.  If I were to recount the appreciation to depreciation, I think it could be 90% to 10% among media, whilst in the academic world it seems to be totally different, with less appreciation by many educators in particular.  Why?  I don’t have the answers here, and I don’t think it is possible to generalize the reasons behind such “pessimism” among the academics and educators.

I could see the xMOOCs are still based around instructivism, and it should be a good news for educators and professors, since this is still a pedagogy centered around the importance of teachers as the center of education.  Why would teachers and professors support the xMOOCs if that is the case?  There are lots of potential “problems” which are not easily identified here.

First, would the continuation of xMOOCs diminish and disrupt the role of traditional Higher Education and the associated traditional “face-to-face” and classroom delivery?

Second, what would be the future of educators and professors who are not engaged or involved in MOOCs?  Would they still be continuing their teaching with the conventional courses that have been delivered for years?  Would they need to “compete” with the rock-star professors who are teaching in the xMOOCs? How would their future employment be determined?

Third, we have found divided opinions as to what people (educators and learners) are expecting from these xMOOCs.  Some would like to see more engagements and interaction by the professors, in order to improve the delivery of “instruction”.  Others are using the opportunity of MOOCs to try out their ways of teaching (flipped learning) and automated and peer grading and assessment on massive number of students.  Many providers are also looking forward to make lots of profits out of this “model” of education, as they have to ensure an adequate return on investment, for the Venture Capitalists and the stakeholders.

Fourth, the future of Higher Education has now reached a crossroad where most of us don’t know what would be a financially sound and sustainable education model that would “save” Higher Education.  For me, I wish to see more positives coming out from both the xMOOCs and cMOOCs, as they could surely help in “educating the world”, by providing open and free education to anyone seeking one.

I have posted this on FB, Twitter, and Google +:

Let’s see who could rightly predict what would happen to HE & MOOCs in 2013 & 2014. Like to create & post a post/tweet & check it next year?


Positive Psychology and Resilience

What is positive psychology and resilience?

Why would I like to reflect on these concepts and principles of positive psychology?

There are a few messages here by Tal Ben Shahar in his video lecture on Positive Psychology – Lesson 2:

How to be successful and resilient in life?

– Optimism

– Faith and a sense of meaning

– Prosocial behavior

– Focusing on strengths

– Set goals

– A role model

– Social support

Tal stresses the importance of asking the “right” questions in quest of life, in the pursuit of happiness (my interpretation).

“Questions create reality.”  I think this is a good point.  I would add another important question: “Why would you like to challenge the assumptions about happiness?”  Have we assumed that what the researchers found about happiness would lead us to a happier life?  Why would we form such a “belief”? Is happiness based on experience?

As Tal mentioned, 80% of college students experienced depression, and 47% of students have experienced a certain form of serious depression.  He quoted that as the case of Harvard University students.  It would be interesting to look deeper into the research survey to find out the reasons why students were depressed.   Some of the reasons seemed to point out the stressful life in HE study, and the immense changes within the few years of undergraduate studies in order to adapt to the “academic” and “social” life in colleges and universities.

He quoted the work of Marva Collins, and explained why he decided to become a teacher, all because of the wonderful work and inspiration of Marva.  Marva inspired her students to look at the positive things, the strengths instead of weaknesses of ourselves.

All these sound positive, as I would also assume that these are the primary reasons why most of us are looking for social belonging, ego and actualization, as proposed by Abraham Maslow, back in the 1950s till 70s.

Why aren’t these messages not being understood by most people?  The message could be very simple: most people when experiencing unfortunate events or un-anticipated changes might start blaming others, or themselves.  Here Tal suggested: “Stop blaming others, take responsibility of your life”.

This reminded me of the basis of positive psychology:

I think there are certain assumptions here on positive psychology that may be interesting for “me” to explore.

1. Have we assumed that people are interested in learning together in a social way?  Is social = happiness? How about those introverted people who don’t like too much of socialising?  Indeed in certain religions, people don’t always prefer to fully socialise if that is against their wish and autonomy.  In other words, being social may only impose tensions on their spiritual growth.  So, there are cultures where people would believe that we need to look inside us for happiness and well being, rather than looking outward for material happiness and success.   If what people are looking for is success, then they need to consider what prices and sacrifices that they have to pay or endure in their journey of success.

Resilience is surely needed to achieve success.  But why are people still preferring to the introverted style of living?  If 1/3 of the population is made up of introverted people, is education about changing them to become more extroverted?

2. Have we assumed that every day is important to each of us?  Isn’t it why we call the time now as “present”?

“Seize the day”

3. Have we assumed that being positive and looking for positive could bring the positive parts from each of us?

Why are we still looking for questions like: What are my weaknesses?  How could I improve? Are these just focus on what we are NOT good at, and not what we are really GOOD at?

I have once thought that we all think we could do better, not because we want to do better than others, but to become a better person ourselves. As shared in Tal’s presentation, we are human “beings” – the being that is too important that we might have forgotten.

My reflection and learning is: “Don’t blame any others, including any education system, but take personal responsibility in re-shaping, adapting, or changing the way we think, learn or behave when things don’t go our way”.  We must pave our way out from the chaotic and uncharted course of life, in order to take hold of our destiny.  No one could decide our destiny for us, without our consent.

Be resilient and be passionate in what you believe and interested in life and you would be able to achieve success, and be happy.