On Education Matters Part 2 – Role of teachers in MOOCs

What is the role of teachers in MOOCs?

Teachers are tools in the education process.  I have posted here on what teachers are for:

Good question: what are teachers for? In a highly commercialized and entrepreneurial based society, what would business and industry be looking for? Workers who could help in running business, working effectively and efficiently that would boost productivity and lowering the cost, in order to generate more profits for stakeholders in businesses and institutions.

So teachers are there to help in educating the “future or present workers” to become more proficient, more skillful in doing their work, and thus leading to a better business, and prosperity.

Free MOOCs

In practice, it hasn’t been such an idyllic model. The large majority of people who sign up for free online courses are what Phil Hill, an education consultant who has analyzed some of the MOOC data, refers to as “lurkers.” These are people who perhaps watch a video or two, but then drop out–a lot never get beyond registering. Hill says as many as 60 to 80 percent of MOOC students never make it past the second week of a course.

Sounds like that teachers couldn’t do much to change the formula of lurking in MOOCs.

Are MOOCs altogether free, and are professors free, in the long run?

This paper on MOOCs:

As technology takes centre stage, the power of learners to control their own learning increases.  In some areas, the direct role of the teacher may be diminished. On the whole, however, teachers’ impact on the lives of their students will remain undiminished, and that of the best teachers—who can also master the technologies coming available— should be vastly amplified. Despite inevitable tensions, all signs point to the various forms of teacher-technology-student interaction becoming enriched rather than diminished.

Will the direct role of the teacher be diminished?  I think there are lots of assumptions here, in that we still think best teachers are those who can master the technologies.  I wonder!  The role of teacher is still important, though such role would likely be different from that of the past, as mere lecturers delivering mass lectures, or conducting classes face-to-face in typical classroom.

Some educators are concerned that far from learning becoming more democratic, the opposite is happening. Salman Khan, the founder of the eponymous academy, is a former hedge fund analyst, not an educator, and some worry that the education agenda in future will be set by large corporations, not teachers or experts in pedagogy. Indeed, what is to stop companies like Google offering qualifications to rival those offered by exam boards and universities?

Would education agenda in future be set by large corporations, not teachers or experts in pedagogy?  I think the current trend of education based on MOOC would soon shift towards corporations-driven education and learning, and there is simply no return.

What I would foresee is: The future of learning would be based on opportunistic education.  MOOCs are just the starting point of the opportunistic education.

The videos shown here below are also collected here.

Here teachers are using video lectures and activities to engage students.  Do the teachers have any idea about who the students are?  May be not.  That is still a broadcasting mode of education.

My conclusion is that the role of teachers have changed, to a curator, an online video presenter, a facilitator, or broker of education. Teaching is free in the brave new world.  Teachers have set education free, as this MOOC movement has set the scene.

However, what would happen if teachers are replaced totally by technology, or by games, or the MOOCs (i.e. without the presence of teachers)?  That would be another story.

May be we need cyber teachers who could teach and adapt in that new world of education.   How would people see teachers and schools?


Have you got the crystal ball of education?


Emergence of MOOCs – Part 3 MOOCs as SURPRISES!

What does a MOOC look like now?

MOOC* Georgetown University Provost Robert Groves blogged: “The ability of massive open online courses to deliver exactly the same experience simultaneously to thousands and thousands of students breaks the mold of traditional university education.  We can all see their potential to increase access to education and reduce the costs of education.” (Full blog post: “Our Moment in Time.”)

MOOC has now evolved into a Mega Network of Massive Open Online Courses with a conglomerate of many open online courses all forming Hubs around the BIG THREE – Coursera, Udacity and edX.

What are common among the big three?

The headlines are:

Take the World’s Best Courses, Online, For Free – Coursera

Learn. Think. Do.  Higher Education for Free – Udacity

The Future of Online Education – for anyone, anywhere, any time – edX

Common words are: Free for Coursera and Udacity, and Education for Udacity and edX.

Taken together, they all are offering education, online courses for free.   Their pedagogy are all based on instructivism (a cognitive and behavioral approach towards teaching and learning, with mastery learning).   The MOOCs are based on the best media platforms available and offered to any one in the world.  There, you would be able to get the courses run by the  best and “super” (rockstar) professors, who will be at the centre stage of teaching, delivering world class education.

What is the medium of MOOC?

“The medium is still the lecture. Thanks to Khan Academy’s free archive of snappy instructional videos, MOOC makers have gotten the memo on the benefit of brevity: 8 to 12 minutes is typical. Then – this is key – videos pause perhaps twice for a quiz to make sure you understand the material or, in computer programming, to let you write code. Feedback is electronic. Teaching assistants may monitor discussion boards. There may be homework and a final exam.”

What are the challenges of MOOCs?

“The MOOC certainly presents challenges. Can learning be scaled up this much? Grading is imperfect, especially for nontechnical subjects. Cheating is a reality. “We found groups of 20 people in a course submitting identical homework,” says David Patterson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who teaches software engineering, in a tone of disbelief at such blatant copying; Udacity and edX now offer proctored exams.”

Here what you need to know about MOOC provides a useful summary, and there are many more, as collected in my post.

The recent evolution of MOOCs

The recent introduction of Instructure to the MOOC game is of little surprise to me. “Instructure announced today that it’s launching a new service called Canvas Network. The service is being positioned as an alternative to existing MOOC vendors or platforms (such as Coursera or EdX) to allow colleges to teach open online courses on the Canvas platform.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/open-online-education-and-canvas-network#ixzz2BDuc4mj2
Inside Higher Ed

Is MOOC a surprise to you?

The year of MOOC has caught many by surprise.   Even the x MOOCs co-founders were caught by surprise.   

“This has caught all of us by surprise,” says David Stavens, who formed a company called Udacity with Sebastian Thrun and Mike Sokolosky after more than 150,000 signed up for Dr. Thrun’s “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” last fall, starting the revolution that has higher education gasping.

If you were to ask me: Did MOOCs catch you by surprise?  My answer is: No.

I have longed thought that MOOC would become a reality before 2008.  Since joining CCK08 in 2008, I was more than convinced that MOOC would one day be ubiquitous, like the networks and communities formed and re-formed around us, in the edge and core of the webs, spreading throughout the internet.  I had on a few occasions worked on that – the Connectivism Ning, the Facebook, the wikis, etc. that were all networks of “practice” where practitioners would all be too happy to come and go, sharing and collaborating with each others with an open NETWORK, similar in nature to THE MOOCs.

What MOOCs need might be the branding, the timing and opportunity that the prestigious institutions have, and of course the funding required to run the MOOCs, so professors could work on, and learn from.

I had discussed these trends of MOOC back in 2010 here on the future of education.  Dave Cormier, George Siemens had organized MOOCs where discourse on future of education – a course in future thinking was held in 2010.  Stephen Downes had been an active promoter of open education and personalized learning with PLE/PLN for the past decade. These had all been discussed in the last sessions of various CCKs – 08, 09, CCK11, Change11.

Here is a summary of CCK08 by Stephen Downes.  See Stephen Downes’ OLDaily for more posts on future of education.

We are heading into the future with MOOCs where “colleges of all kinds will need to re-examine exactly what value they provide to students, what it costs, and what price the market will bear.”

Is disruptive innovation of MOOCs good enough to revolutionize Higher Education?

In my post relating to disruptive technology: Clayton’s prediction of disruptive innovation could rightly provide us with the crystal  ball: that innovative disruption would likely be repeated for any businesses – including education, and HE in particular, especially in highly developed countries, or a global market.  These seem to have been demonstrated in the current MOOCs phenomena too.  Are we ready for these sorts of “disruptions” in education?  Time will tell.

Are we at the cross-road of Higher Education?

“I have once predicted that this sort of future education would soon make its turn towards mass education with personalized learning, like the MOOC movement.  However, what sort of technology would uplift the HE to another higher level?  Is disruptive technology playing as the strange attractor here?  Are the sort of investments based on disruptive technology giving more choices for the learners?  Or will education become a commodity managed under an entrepreneurial business setting?”

MOOC as the CALL CARD to revolutionize Higher Education

MOOC is now the CENTRAL ECONOMICS OF EDUCATION – DISRUPTING the Higher Education to its fullest extent.

Here efficiency and effectiveness of education has finally been drawn based on this CALL CARD – MOOC to revolutionize Higher Education.  You got to love free Higher Education!

But there is a price to pay.  MOOC and you’re out of a job: Uni business model in danger.

Are you a super professor?  Have you delivered a xMOOC?  What were your experiences in the teaching and learning with x MOOCs?

Photos Credit: Google images

#Oped12 #MOOC Have people really understood what a great MOOC would look like?

What does a great MOOC look like from learners’ perspective? Through reading this post on MOOC,  it seems to me that the principal pedagogy of instructivism with a sage on the stage (with one SUPER PROFESSOR) teaching in a MOOC is emphasised in the x MOOCs.  Isn’t that the way most people are perceiving the x MOOCs (or the super MOOCs) too?

Ideally, Udacity and other MOOC providers will help strip away all the distractions of higher education — the brand, the price and the facilities — and remind all of us that education is about learning. In addition to putting downward pressure on student costs, it would be nice if MOOCs put upward pressure on teaching quality. Read more: http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/college-is-dead-long-live-college/#ixzz29nAtt4gH

I think people might have got the whole ideas of MOOC too much relying on “teaching quality” alone. To me, MOOC is about LEARNING!  In an ideal learning ecology, learning (and teaching) should be focused on the learners’ needs, NOT just what the teachers want to teach. If MOOC is only about teaching, then the educators and designers need to be mindful about what is needed to support education and learning.  This is why Niazi has been struggling with the MOOC, when she couldn’t reach the media (Youtube) of instruction and assessment that she wanted. There are indeed so many roadblocks and distractions when learning online, that everyone has a story to tell.  But is it really what the learner wants?  How could we support our fellow educators and learners in MOOC?

Niazi loved MOOCs more than her own school, and she wished she could spend all day learning from Andy Brown. Read more: http://nation.time.com/2012/10/18/college-is-dead-long-live-college/#ixzz29nCE5Bh7

Isn’t it interesting to learn about students’ wishes, to learn from ONE professor only in a MOOC.  It is important to learn from professors and experts on specialized knowledge domain, in MOOCs, and I would fully think that is valuable from a learning perspective. My questions are, however: Is it good enough? Why?  Why not?  Especially in the case of online learning, and MOOCs.

The problem with the learning with an instructivist appraoch with ONE BEST TEACHER, might have assumed a knowledge transmission model in pedagogy.  This way of teaching would lead us to believe that if the teacher teaches “best” with the short video lectures, or the “flipped classroom”, then the learners would learn best. What are the assumptions made here?  Have we considered the motivation, the learning styles, the learning context and need for personalized learning here?  Perhaps, not much.  Or may be one could argue, these need not be considered in the case of “mass education” or, these are not THE HELPFUL questions to ask in MOOCs.

Without considering these basic assumptions, I don’t think we have addressed the core challenges in teaching and learning, when designing and delivering online courses such as MOOCs. What is more important is not the mere consumption of the content of the course (MOOC), but the application of theories and LEARNING (such as networked learning) into actual practice, in the learning process and journey. The assessment is just part of the learning, though it could play an important role when it comes to accreditation and certification of learning in formal education.

Learning is not just about certification alone, and so is not about getting a high grade, just to beat your other learners or to compete with others, and be the 1 or 3% genius on the top rank.   That is the traditional way of assessing and measuring students’ performance based on an elitist approach, in order to screen students – from the brightest to the worst students.

Does it help the students to perform better, just by testing alone?  No!  That’s why we need to provide plenty of options, opportunities of learning, and time for our students to keep practising, reflecting, and learning through different means – interaction with the professor(s), experts, other educators, peers, learners, industry specialists, and communities and networks WITHIN AND OUTSIDE the MOOC.

Learning in a MOOC takes its roots from conversation, interaction and new ways of thinking and practice takes place, in ourselves, with the network, and among the networks and community.  Learning would then relate to the achieving of personal goals, developing one’s learning strategies and literacies whilst constructing and navigating the networks.

Here in this post:

Creating a simple LMS is not simple, particularly when you are trying to align curriculum and instruction with modern constructivist pedagogy while simultaneously transforming a giant mob of participants into engaged community members.

Does it also mean that LMS is the way to go with MOOC? What does it mean when a constructivist pedagogy is adopted as the main approach to the  “teaching” of the massive students in MOOC? MOOCs would likely be best situated and appropriated when people apply what they have learnt not only from the professors, but with each others, through networking, interaction, conversation with a Connectivist and or Constructivist approach, where the learners could ultimately develop into fully autonomous, self-motivating and life-long learners. As commented in this post relating to Sebastian Thrun’s AI MOOC:

Mr. Thrun is talking like a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur. “The AI class was the first light. Online education will way exceed the best education today. And cheaper. If this works, we can rapidly accelerate the progress of society and the world.

Will online education way exceed the best education today?

Postscript: Watch this video presentation by Sebastian Thrun.  Rockstar professors – sound like a return to education by the SUPER PROFESSORS AS FIRST CLASS CITIZENS, NOT THE RESEARCHERS!

Sebastian admitted that a 25 years old graduate who taught in the Physics course in Udacity could do a better teaching than him, as a professor.   That sounds interesting.

But what is good teaching?  Is it just using multi-media to teach?  Or should it be more than just posting “great videos”?  How about facilitation skills of a teacher?  How about a visionary teacher who could mentor and guide learners towards learning (in learning metacognitive skills), and learning how to learn?

Should we focus more on adaptive learners and adaptive learning instead?  I still have reservation with the PUSH approach towards learning in online learning, where education is pushed to the students.

Is Khan Academy using an open PUSH or PULL approach towards learning?   Your view is important.

Here is a post about MOOC and Sebastian Thrun’s presentation.