MOOC as the silver bullet

I would like to relate to Alex Kuskis’ comments provided here where he points to:

  1. The unaffordability of the American campus model, based on tuition price increases year after year, with students incurring immense debts, leading to a student loans crisis and financial bubble that will sooner or later burst, just as the housing bubble did. See “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College”, http://tinyurl.com/cw54epl ; “Universities on the Brink”, http://tinyurl.com/cdpmslo ; “College Bubble Set to Burst in 2011”, http://inflation.us/collegebubble.html .
  2. Questioning whether learning happens at all in traditional university education, especially undergrad education. See “Does College Make You Smarter”, http://tinyurl.com/5vxxnh4 .
  3. The traditional university’s crisis of purpose, http://tinyurl.com/ct9dgp9 . 
  4. The university: still dead – Andrew Delbanco’s insightful new book on the history and future of the American college exposes an institution that has no idea what it should be, by Angus Kennedy, http://tinyurl.com/cxult4h .
  5. The fading legitimacy of liberal arts colleges, http://tinyurl.com/clnv59chttp://tinyurl.com/cefr9gk .
  6. The widespread perception that universities require “fixing”, http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/08/24/fradella
  7. The fact that universities are ripe for disruption: http://tinyurl.com/bn3aqau .
  8. The ineffectiveness of lectures, still the dominant teaching method in universities: “The College Lecture, Long Derided, May Be Fading”, http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/index.html?todaysheadlines .

Are MOOCs the silver bullets for education?  Not yet.

There are some positive results here with Udacity, though the experiment has again revealed that MOOCs could be helpful for certain students and learners whilst may not be a panacea for those who need individual learning or support, including mentoring, coaching or tutoring.  Such pedagogy has proven to be effective in traineeship and apprenticeship programs.

However, in an online environment and platform such as MOOCs, one on one mentoring with professors or personal tutors (teaching assistants) could be prohibitively costly and thus not possible.  An alternative is to arrange volunteer or paid tutors and mentors in such MOOCs who could provide the coaching required for novice learners, as I have shared here and here.   There are implications with such approaches, as additional mentoring and coaching may incur fees, and the need of an infrastructure with systems of policy, procedures and protocols as normally present in an institutional framework to assure quality support learning services.

There is also a need to balance between self-organizing nature of networked learning with a focus of autonomous learning embedded with the instructivist mastery learning approach in such MOOCs to ensure optimum learning outcomes.  Many novice learners may overly rely on the “teach, drill and test” sort of mastery learning.  Such instrumental learning is practised in senior high school or entry level college, in preparation of their entrance examination to university.  Though there are merits with mastery learning for prescriptive knowledge and learning on defined curriculum, the mechanistic and instrumental learning associated with the consumption of knowledge would limit their growth and development in critical thinking and metacognitive skills, sensemaking and way finding.

That is where MOOCs providers need to re-vamp their programs with technology as enabler, so as to cater for their learners’ needs. These would further foster new and emerging pedagogy in education, not just a reinforcement of what they are currently offering to their students.

In summary, continuous improvement and innovation in practice in an ever changing world of MOOCs and education.

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A white paper on MOOC

Nice paper on MOOC:

As the text is copyrighted,  I would refer part of it here:

1. What new pedagogies and organisational mechanisms might be required if MOOC are to deliver a high quality learning experience?

xMOOCs have been criticised for adopting a knowledge transmission model; in essence, they are considered to be technology-enriched traditional teacher-centred instruction (Larry, 2012).

By contrast, cMOOCs provide great opportunities for non-traditional forms of teaching approaches and learner-centred pedagogy where students learn from one another.  Online communities ‘crowd-source’ answers to problems, creating networks that distribute learning in ways that seldom occur in traditional classrooms in universities.

Here I have elaborated on cMOOCs:

The c MOOCs

The second type of MOOC are those which focus principally on the learners’ preferences and thus be based on learner-centred model of teaching and learning.  Here the professors would negotiate the teaching with learners with networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education and learning process, with distributed learning and technology as an enabler, with a connectivist approach towards learning and crowd sourcing as a means to aggregate the distributed learning.  This could be the current model of c MOOC, based on emergent learning.

The new pedagogies and organisational mechanisms that might be required include a hybrid model of MOOCs where content and process are mixed and matched to suit different cohorts of educators, professors and learners.

My observation and comments about the paper:

1. It is great to have a summary on MOOCs, providing an overall view about the current trend of MOOCs and their implications on Higher Education.  This is surely welcomed by many MOOC providers, Higher Education Institutions and their decision makers and administrators.

2. The paper used a number of sources as references, including wikipedia, blog posts and media posts, rather than the formal peer-reviewed papers.  This seems a radical approach towards referencing, in white paper.  What criteria should be used in the selection of such sources as references in white and research papers?  It could be interesting to learn from the authors how decisions are made on this matter.

3. This paper is unique in that most of the findings are drawn from blog posts and discussion papers, which is pretty useful.  I think more research findings with empirical data (big data and learning analytics) would help in revealing the SWOTS of MOOCs.

The paper is a must read for any policy makers, administrators, professors and educators who are interested in the design and development of online/distance education and MOOCs.

Application of Game Theory in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs

This Lifelong education on Steroids provides an excellent and insightful overview about MOOCs.  What I would add is that MOOCs could be one the game changers in Higher Education, not just online education.  Why?  Higher Education has been a game in business, where each of the game players are playing a fair, though competitive game in a global arena for decades.  

The strategic alliance and partnership is one of the macro approaches in game playing where institutions are working with various other education providers or services in order to enhance the overall education and learning experiences of the learners, or consumers and customers.

How would Game Theory help in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs?

There are two main approaches that we could consider – a macro and a micro approach.

Macro approach:

First, to design MOOCs based on Game Theory, on a macro scale. What this involves is to compare and contrast the various design of x and c MOOCs, based on a set of principles where networked learning and mastery learning is leveraged, especially when an institutional education model is based.  This could be demonstrated and applied by taking into consideration the payoff and expected return with each probability (i.e. un-bundling of each of the present services of typical MOOCs services as described here) and re-bundling them with values and benefits for each cohort of learners and educators.

Second, to deliver MOOCs based on Game Theory principles which include those elaborated in this Understanding the MOOC Trend.

Third, to assess MOOCs based on a combination of automation and human intervention, where learning analytics and big data are used to provide feedback to both educators and learners on a continuous basis.  This paper on assessment on MOOCs provides an insightful approach to incorporate

Micro approach

This involves strategically designing MOOCs based more on the games with various multimedia and interactive game story, where assessment and learning are built in to engage both professors and learners to co-explore and learn through the education process.  Games could also be used for assessing learners in a personal and adaptive way, though this would involve a total different design from the instructivist approach.  This includes peer-teaching and learning as proposed by Eric Mazur and other educators.  Indeed peer teaching and learning is one of the pedagogy adopted in a connectivist approaches towards learning.

It should be noted that the majority of peer-tutoring programs for students are intended to complement, not substitute for, regular classroom instruction. Tutoring should never be a substitute for professional teaching. An ideal learning atmosphere is as a rich blend of peer and adult instructional strategies.

Cited From: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/peer-teaching/#ixzz2cTBZTEiL

In summary, game theory could be used in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs, with an overall improvement in the learning and education experiences of learners.

What would you get out of MOOCs?

Do you want to teach in a MOOC? Why teach a MOOC?

For me, teaching a MOOC is an extension of what you teach in an online course, only that you would reach a massive audience. There is more, for learning, than teaching when MOOCs are structured with different pedagogical approaches, as they evolved.  MOOCs are not just about teaching though as they are more related to learning and educational experience that covers the social, teaching and cognitive presence.

MOOC won’t “correct” those teaching with “poor pedagogy”, but surely MOOC provides different avenues for teachers to design online courses with an experimental approach.

The best way to learn from MOOCs may be “mistakes”, not success, as this is captured here:

There is still debate about whether MOOCs can replicate the educational experience of a traditional classroom, but in general the large-scale online courses have managed to avoid being panned outright. Udacity, a competing MOOC provider, was forced to cancel a mathematics course last summer due to concerns over quality—but the incident appears not to have significantly damaged that company’s brand.

Isn’t it true that most of us made mistakes when doing experiments.  This is especially the case when performing social experiments on the web, or networks, where a scientific approach could be in “conflict” with the humanistic approach, facing lots of resistances and challenges, from each side of the schools – “the traditional school”, “the progressive school”, “the venture capitalist school”, “the innovative and disruptive school”.

There are lots of interesting learning we could gain from the MOOC experience, as an observer, researcher, participant, or professor. Some of these experience of MOOC have challenge our views about online education, learning and the role and mission of higher education institutions.

How would people view MOOCs?  Would MOOCs kill research university?

So what happens if undergraduate teaching is something that is magicked away through the technological change of MOOCs? Clearly that river of cash that supports the professoriate disappears. As does the need for quite so many professors of course. Which will in turn lead to there being very many fewer people conducting research as there just won’t be as many people in universities in the future.

When most of the resources are directed towards MOOCs, who would fund and conduct researches in the universities?  May be that is the downside of MOOCs on research universities, as the pendulum is now swinging from research to teaching using MOOCs.

We are further witnessing a crossroad where conservative school of teaching (where lecture reigns best) is challenged by innovative, disruptive, though instructivist school of teaching (where mini-chunked base video lecture coupled with mastery learning reigns supreme).

As we unbundled teaching, MOOCs have become a platform where a complex mix of activities are offered both by MOOC providers, teachers and “consumed” by the participants and students.  These have been elaborated in this Understanding the MOOC Trend.

What would we get out of this MOOC trend?  Why MOOCs?  That is the very basic question for every institution to consider.  To what extent would their MOOCs be differentiated from the other “mainstream MOOCs”?  Are they superior MOOCs?  Why would you teach in MOOCs?  Should teachers curate rather than teach and compete with the super professors of MOOCs?

Why not send our students to the MOOCs so they could learn there, whilst we as educators could enjoy the smart teaching and learning with our students with less efforts.  See George’s video on this.

Am I doing this now?  I have been thinking about this way of teaching for the past few years.

I have used many of the resources available on the Web for free and found great achievements by my students.  So, teaching could be done more effectively by being a curator, facilitator and supporter, rather than a pure “lecturer”.

Do you see it that way?

The emergence of x and c MOOCs and pedagogy

Ray in this post on MOOCs are maturing says:

What will this adolescent, MOOC, become when it grows up?  Some key traits are apparent even at this early point in the development of this movement.  MOOCs, by definition, reach massive audiences.  Where there are massive audiences, there are efficiencies that may be had, and there is money to be made through advertising.  MOOCs are pioneering new modes of assessment that may be applicable across all of education.

Adaptive learning has been given a boost by open online initiatives.  The hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars attracted by the potential of MOOCs are a significant incentive to make some version of massive open online learning work.  If there is one thing that MOOCs have shown us, it is that there is a huge international appetite for learning.

Based on my observation and research, I think there are vast differences in terms of needs and experiences in MOOCs (especially the c and x MOOCs) for various types and cohorts of learners – high school students, college and university undergraduate students, graduate students, graduates and working learners, scholars, researchers, professors etc.

It is hard to pin down a particular pedagogy for each type or cohort of learners, but generally, those undergraduate students tend to need more guidance than graduate students and graduates, and that life-long learners (those who have work experience and degrees, or those who are veterans in MOOCs – cMOOCs etc.) tend to prefer more autonomous and independent or self-directed and organised learning. These sort of findings are revealed in various forms in “our past researches” though we need more concrete statistics and learning analytics to verify those claims.

There are many assumptions behind the learning for xMOOCs which seem to be revealed in decades of research – that these learners tend to be more entrusted in learning with their elite institutions and professors, and so an instructivist approach with mastery learning matches and aligns with their learning style. Besides, working and learning with professors would also lead to a closer and positive relationship between learners and institutions, which is highly desirable when these graduates need recommendation from the professors when applying for work (or through the xMOOCs). You would easily find lots of professionals working with Coursera and Udacity now are those “graduates” from those xMOOCs or those who graduated from the elite institutions. Surely, the pedagogy they would prefer is the instructivist approach and mastery learning, when they are asked about their preferred learning/teaching methodology, as that is what they are employed for.

To what extent would learners learn with other pedagogy, like a networked learning approach or Connectivism? My (our) research did indicate that these would likely be adopted by those who are well experienced and motivated learners, with mature and advanced learning skills. These could include graduates and some experienced life long learners, some professors who would like to adopt emerging technology and new and innovative pedagogical approach, and those who are pioneers in COPs, though many of these educators and professionals would prefer to use “social constructivist” or “cognitivist” approaches in describing their preferred pedagogy, rather than Connectivism. John

Here is my post relating to c and x MOOCs:

What would emerge out of the MOOCs?

I suppose there are 3 types of MOOCs that are emerging in Higher Education:

The x MOOCs

Those MOOCs which could leverage technologies, automate the whole educational process of teaching, assessment and certification, and those which are operating under a sustainable business model – with a continuous stream of revenues and profits to support the design and running of the MOOC.  The focus would likely still be on the business, with technology enhanced learning as the way to educate and learn, supported by the super professors, with videos-based teaching, and flipped classroom.   This seems to fall in line with the current x MOOCs where huge enrollments –  million with Coursera, and hundreds of thousands with Udacity and edX.

The c MOOCs

The second type of MOOC are those which focus principally on the learners’ preferences and thus be based on learner-centred model of teaching and learning.  Here the professors would negotiate the teaching with learners with networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education and learning process, with distributed learning and technology as an enabler, with a connectivist approach towards learning and crowd sourcing as a means to aggregate the distributed learning.  This could be the current model of c MOOC, based on emergent learning.

The x and c MOOCs

The third type of MOOCs are those which would re-brand themselves, attract and sustain more educators and learners to be on board of the bandwagon of MOOCs, where an educational model is blended into the business model.  Here the super professors and educators would re-reconfigure the teaching to “teach the world”, and support learners in grouped or networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education process, with technology and social media/networks as an enabler.  This could be a hybrid structure of x MOOC and c MOOC.

Finally, what would be the model that emerge?

Here the models are represented by:

What would be the future of MOOCs?

As discussed, the three sorts of MOOCs would serve different types of learners differently based on what the institutions would offer and what the learners might need and expect.

There are no clear crystal balls in accurately predicting what would emerge out of these winners, though it is for sure that the ultimate model of Higher Education would likely go with xMOOCs within the coming decade, as the demand for qualifications, formal teacher-based education is still the norm.

There is a possibility of having institutions adopting a hybrid approach in blending educational model with a strong business model in order to sustain in the long run.  This means that more emerging technologies would be adopted to replace the current teacher-based model of teaching, where the core business of education is more widely adopted not only in higher education, but also being adopted in the wider community and networks.  Here the c and x MOOCs would likely be the ones who could embrace both entrepreneurial and educational models in their MOOCs, in the delivery of pragmatic results and tangible outcomes.  This may however, mean that they could have the most disruptive effect on the current Higher Education, as they might transform the nature of business of education.

There are however, certain institutions who would embrace the learners as center of education model, which in fact mimic the adoption of internet and web-based learning, with a Constructivist and Connectivist approaches towards education, where teachers, social and personal learning networks, artifacts and internet based open-resources and open learning are used in the MOOCs’ platforms, as a basis to truly transform both the institutions, and the nature of education and learning.  These require a systemic change in the way learning is considered, that is in keeping pace with the rapid changes in society and needs of learners, with an emergence model of education.

If open courses close minds, what will come next to MOOCs?

Would open courses close minds?  Thanks to Nellie for posting the link. Here is my response to the post as shared on FB:

Would this depend on which types of MOOCs that we are referring to? As Nellie said: “I’ve been taking and giving my own MOOCs since 2007. Informal education seems to scare a lot of universities so much so that they started a new kind of MOOC to ensure that they stay in control. Well, let them keep trying, but informal education and open courses is the future.”

Even the communities and networks here are all open, adaptive & dynamic in opening up conversation, Socratic dialogues, open sharing & creative collaboration or cooperation. There are now seamless connections which would help in cultivating a multicultural awareness and appreciation, far beyond the “knowledge” or information transmission model of online education.

Such tapestry of knowledge networks (cMOOCs – which intertwined to some extent with other xMOOCs and university courses) could be one of the most “disruptive” innovation ever “revolution” both top down and bottom up.  I don’t know how scary it could be for any educators, but haven’t we learnt about the precedence – through the lens of the past two decades? We have all witnessed the impact of those technologies on nearly all “businesses” – like printing, news & journalism, music and entertainment, videos and DVDs, photography,  etc. where they have all been disrupted to some extent by emerging technology – internet, new ICT etc.

Education is just the next on the list, and it happens that MOOCs have since then become the next “invention” since the printing press and mass lecture etc. to again disrupt the whole business.  What is the next big surprise?  Super MOOCs over MOOCs (c & x & ??? MOOCs) where they all inter-mingle to become the next breed of MMOOC – MEGA MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE.