MOOC – challenges and opportunities to Higher Education

This post aggregates some of the posts relating to MOOCs – challenges and opportunities to Higher Education.

There are now thousands of posts on MOOCs, with praises, criticisms, challenges and opportunities.  Here is just one of them, summarizing some of the pros and cons of MOOCs.  Tony Bates has provided valuable insights on the issues and opportunities relating to MOOCs.

This one on the challenges of MOOCs is especially interesting, Don says:

In the industrial model of student mass production, the teacher is the broadcaster. A broadcast is by definition the transmission of information from transmitter to receiver in a one-way, linear fashion. The teacher is the transmitter and student is a receptor in the learning process. The formula goes like this: “I’m a professor and I have knowledge. You’re a student you’re an empty vassal and you don’t. Get ready, here it comes. Your goal is to take this data into your short-term memory and through practice and repetition build deeper cognitive structures so you can recall it to me when I test you.”

The definition of a lecture has become the process in which the notes of the teacher go to the notes of the student without going through the brains of either.

Is MOOC a threat or opportunity to universities?

If the MOOC model were really such a disruptive threat, why would universities take the trouble to disrupt themselves? Why would the board members of University of Virginia be so obsessed with it, even going so far by attempting to fire their president?

Below are a few key take-aways after this insightful conversation with Professor Meinel.

  • Extend
  • Capture Value  
  • Continue  
  • Customize
  • Be There

I have raised similar questions in my previous post here.

If the mooc is better than the existing teaching and learning in the elite or most universities, wouldn’t that be the greatest disruption to their own “mainstream” teaching and pedagogy? If the mooc is far less valuable, attractive and useful than their mainstream teaching and pedagogy, who would be losing? Would that be the professors teaching in the MOOCs? So, no matter whether MOOCs are providing a better or worse pedagogy to the mainstream teaching, either way would not be beneficial to the HE institutions and the professors. But without the MOOCs as the starting point, what would happen? No change, no innovation needed? Would that be totally different if the pedagogy is aligned with cMOOCs? I don’t know the answer.

See this on some of the interesting points about MOOCs relating to its turn down by faculties, with more concerns follow here.

On a larger scale, MOOCs might create a “new and different kind of competition” that could jeopardize more-vulnerable colleges, if not Amherst itself; they could “enable the centralization of American higher education” and “create the conditions for the obsolescence of the B.A. degree.”

So, it seems MOOCs are indeed disruptive technology as viewed from many colleges point of views, and there is simply no return, but to accept that these would deepen the divide between those in favor and against the wider adoption of such technology.

This open letter could be one of the greatest concerns on MOOCs to Faculties of Higher Education Institutions.  See this response letter from Michael Sandel.

What would happen to the faculties, the professors and administrators of those institutions offering MOOCs?  Would some of the faculty staff become Teaching Assistants (TA) to the super-rockstar professors, as the demand of professors is lessened?  What about the opportunities of “teaching” in MOOCs with tens of thousand of students around the world?  What are the ethical and social issues and implications when MOOCs become the mainstream in colleges and Higher Education Institutions?


6 thoughts on “MOOC – challenges and opportunities to Higher Education

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  3. Pingback: MOOC – challenges and opportunities to Higher Education – Part 2 | Learner Weblog

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