MOOC, Online Education and its future

I am not sure if people are aware of the vision, mission of the first MOOCs, which were totally different from the present MOOCs.

The first MOOCs relate to open education, open teaching and learning, and digital scholarship.

Refer to this:

Original MOOCs (oMOOCs) were free, or at least extremely affordable, fully online, well-crafted and contained a lot of interesting pedagogy and instructional design. The target demographic was the underserved, both nationally and internationally.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Misunderstanding, lack of common “goals” among various institutions and professors, and differing interests in schools of education and pedagogy have all left people mixing MOOCs with online education.

To me, this is only part of the “wicked problems” especially when disruptive innovation comes into play in education.

Do we really agree upon what a high quality online education – like MOOCs would look like?

The early successes of xMOOCs had led to springing up of MOOCs within a year’s time, and whilst many elite higher education institutions were still figuring out what sort of vision, mission and strategies they should adopt and embrace, the media, experts and gurus were already heralding MOOCs as the next big wave and “Savior” to Higher Education.

Quick responses were compounded by “quick fixes” and “YOU MUST HURRY UP” sort of slogan, where institutions were too eager in joining MOOCs without much “damage control” under institution framework.

Are MOOCs as cited in posts reflective of the reality?

I highly doubt these recent developments mean the end of MOOCs, but they certainly seem to indicate that the MOOC concept is undergoing a transition.

Hasn’t the current MOOCs movement moved from educational discourse to political and socio-economic discourse?  This means that education under a MOOC model is not just a business, a commodity for the venture capitalist, or a by product or neo-liberalism, but a socio-economic product with social, economic and political gains which must be taken seriously when institutions are to adopt it as part of the mainstream.

Indeed, the current strategy adopted by most institutions when adopting MOOCs could include:

1. Adopting MOOCs as a disruptive innovation to combat the disruptive impact due to numerous MOOCs and to drive down the cost of higher education delivery in their institutions.

In emergence of MOOCs, I reflected:

A paradox that underlies MOOC is its value proposition to lower costs due to its Massive Open Online nature.  Whilst the buzz about MOOCs is not due to the technology’s intrinsic educational value, but due to the seductive possibilities of lower costs (Vardi, 2012).  This could also reach a massive number of potential learners, on a global basis, as a result of technology, yet it may not add substantive costs to the MOOCs, once they are created.

Another paradox lies with the degree of participation – the drop-in and drop-out in MOOCs, and how success in completing the course or learning is defined.

Most elite institutions are interested in embracing MOOCs mainly because that would help them in maintaining leadership in Higher Education, by the adoption of online education, and to experiment with “best practice” that they have in mind.  This will further ensure their continuing world leadership position in the provision of Higher Education.

Besides, most institutions realize that power of disruption against disruption may be the best strategy that they could employ, to avoid being “defeated” when waking up,  when everybody else is playing the game of MOOCs.

2. Adopting MOOCs to promote particular pedagogy, and in the case of xMOOCs, the effectiveness of Instructivism and Mastery Learning.

These are rational strategies, especially for elite institutions, as that is where best professors are employed to teach the best courses in the world.

Have we shared a common understanding on all these?  Isn’t it true that professors still have different views about MOOCs?  There seem to be some resistance from the professors as revealed in various incidences.

There are however differing views on how these pedagogy are used effectively in MOOCs, especially when the outcomes are often interpreted differently by different authorities and educators.

I have shared here What does a world class MOOC look like?

Here are some further posts relating to MOOCs which provide deep insights and constructive comments:

1. Tony Bate’s post on MIT learning technologies and developing countries lessons in technology transfer and post on MOOCs MIT and Magic

2. Stephen Downes’ post on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge and this post the Great Re-branding.

3. Peter Slope’s post on How to improve teaching with technology

4. Terry Anderson’s post on MOOCs and distance education institutions

Transformative pedagogy has been proposed for years, though it seems to be limited in use on teaching and learning, especially in MOOCs.

This pedagogical foundation provides a summary of the pedagogies employed by xMOOCs, where the authors conclude:

MOOCs are in essence a restatement of online learning environments that have been in use for some time. What is new is the numbers of participants, and the fact that the format concentrates on short form videos, automated or peer/self–assessment, forums and ultimately open content from a representation of the world’s leading higher educational institutions. This review has demonstrated that MOOCs have a sound pedagogical basis for their formats.

What would be the future of Higher Education?

As shared in my previous post:

I would predict that MOOCs soon be taken up not only by elite institutions, but also by private and for-profit institutions and venture capitalists.  This would soon lead to a complete privatization and marketization of MOOCs on a much wider scale, likely with developed countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada.  This would soon lead to “user-choice” based on a “free-market” where governments would need to “waive” for quality and accreditation as the MOOCs are not fees-charging courses.  Would this lead to a significant closure of HE institutions or colleges who couldn’t compete with the MOOCs?  The current trend tends to favor a more teacher-centred approach in xMOOCs where super-rockstar professors and elite institutions would take up 80 -90% market share of MOOCs.

The trend of MOOCs also clearly indicates that privatization would soon happen, and that those institutions who do not adapt to such competition would soon has to change its vision and mission to embrace online education and learning in order to survive.


25 thoughts on “MOOC, Online Education and its future

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  7. Hi John, Interesting views on MOOC.
    Some little MOOCs are to come. MOOCs that fill in little niches. Most MOOCs are in English, most people are not fluent in English. So I see Dutch MOOCs in the Dutch language. (finding a Dutch niche for their MOOC yet to come in autumn)
    I see very specialized MOOCs, maybe we should call them e-learning courses, for specialists in IT or any other vocation. (new niches for mini-MOOCs like
    And of course cMOOC is there to stay

  8. Hi Jaap, Thanks for your enriched comments and sharing. Yes, more MOOC providers would test the market. MOOCs and online education would be blurred as such mini-MOOCs blossom.

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