Reflection on MOOCs

This post reflects on: 1. MOOCs for Community Colleges 2. Reasons why xMOOCs are so successful in attracting massive number of students 3. Marketing and branding of MOOCs 4.  Impacts of xMOOCs on Community Colleges and Universities in Higher Education 5.  Interaction and teaching in MOOCs (x MOOCs)

1. MOOCs for Community Colleges Are MOOCs viable for Community Colleges?  Yes, the officials say.

“We have the opportunity to target our resources in terms of the higher interaction models to the needs of students, as opposed to having a one-size-fits-all for an entire class,” Koller said.

I think there are huge potentials in introducing xMOOCs into Community Colleges, despite the MOOC controversy throughout the past 18 months.  Such challenges include the incident where Amherst rejects edx moocs, and Harvard for free meets resistance as US professors see threat.

The latest news is that that Georgia Tech and Udacity roll out massive new low cost degree program.  There would be more xMOOCs providers partnering with Colleges and Universities in the provision of xMOOCs in the future.

2. Reasons why xMOOCs are so successful in attracting massive number of students xMOOCs have been very successful in attracting and enrolling hundreds of thousands and even millions of students to their MOOCs, and the reasons include:

1. Branding and affiliation with elite institutions and professors. Branding, is the new name of the game, under a MOOC arena.

2. Well established courses with rich support on resources and assessment (grading/peer assessment).  Both c and x MOOCs are structured courses, though cMOOCs have been based principally on a decentralised system with input and contribution from the participants whilst xMOOCs have been based principally on the curation of the organisers (course designers and instructors).

3. Granting of certificates of achievement or statements of attainment (in recognition of the learning and achievement).  This is especially the case for x MOOCs which could attract learners to attend the course, especially as they are still free.

4. Degrees of difficulties – xMOOCs are much easier compared to cMOOCs.  This is grounded on that in xMOOCs, the instructors would have done most, if not all of the ground work necessary for teaching and learning for the learners.  What the learners are normally expected to do would be to consume the knowledge transmitted or broadcasted to them, and to confirm their understanding of the concepts through repeated quizzes or assignments.

5. Perceptions of learners – xMOOCs are based on 1,2,3 above, and 4 – learners – cMOOCs would have to curate resources and create blog posts/join forums.  The centralised platform (LMS) typically employed in the xMOOCs may be much simpler than the blogs and Personal Learning Environment/Network (PLE/N) as used in cMOOCs.

6. Pedagogy – xMOOCs employ a familiar pedagogy – mastery learning based on an instructivist approach (behavioral/cognitivist strategy) and peer assessment, whilst cMOOCs employ a relatively demanding pedagogy – social constructivist/connectivist approach which could sound chaotic at first sight.

3. Marketing and branding of MOOCs I could see MOOCs now entering the marketing phase – i.e. MOOC refers to Marketing Online Open Courses based on the concepts of open marketing as mentioned by Philip Kotler here, with creating, communicating and delivery value of MOOC to target market customers.

4.  Impacts of xMOOCs on Community Colleges and Universities in Higher Education

In this post relating to MOOCs: “There has been a lot of debate on the merits of xMOOCs in terms of disruption, business model and academic quality. While I think these questions are interesting, the more important impact from xMOOCs can be seen in terms of forcing higher education as a system or culture to no longer ignore online education as a self-contained side issue and instead evaluate the role of online education for all of higher education.”

What would be the reactions of administrators, college professors, educators and college students towards xMOOCs?  What are the merits and demerits of using xMOOCs in Community Colleges?  To what extent are Community College students using online education programs (or MOOCs)? How are these MOOCs perceived by the students?

Here Jonathan Haber says:

The experience I just described made me realize that I like to be taught by a “sage-on-the-stage,” or, more particularly, by someone with way more expertise on the subject than I and my fellow students have who is also skilled and experienced at transferring this knowledge to others.  In no way does this mean that xMOOCs are inherently superior to cMOOCs on the same subject.  But it does mean that different options may be needed to meet the needs of people with widely varying strengths, weaknesses and preferences that make up their learning styles.

There are different students who have different needs and such students could be served by xMOOCs well enough under the current promotion of xMOOCs. As I shared here:

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:

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 alternativeassessment models using ICT in MOOCs.

5.  Interaction and teaching in MOOCs (x MOOCs)

I just came across this interesting video on interaction and teaching.

One of the comments made was: “Teaching is both an art and a science”.  This is an interesting comment as I have reflected here in my previous post.  Good and great teaching must then be based on both scientific and artistic principles.

If teaching and learning relates so strongly to interaction between teacher and students, and between students in the classroom, should xMOOCs be also making interaction the focal point in the online teaching too?

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