The Art and Science of MOOCs

After more than a year of introduction of MOOCs (especially x MOOCs), my observation is that MOOC is treated more like an art than science, in particular when it comes to the experimental design of MOOCs and the associated emotional responses from people – educators, professors, experts, learners, students etc.

Should we treat MOOC more like an art, an entertainment business?  Here in a post relating to five reasons in support of MOOCs, Cathy says:

2. There has been much hype around the MOOC, often prompted by ‘celebrity academics’ teaching huge numbers of students. In the era of YouTube and TED, the ‘teacher as performer’ has taken root, and academics who would previously have stayed in their dusty lecture halls are now clamouring to be on stage. This has bred the era of the ‘rock star’ or ‘celebrity academic’ who measures his or her standing in YouTube or TED hits. Would it have caught on if ‘celebrity academics’, such as Sebastien Thrun and Peter Norvig, had not been involved and legitimised the method?

The rockstar phenomena have been around for years, though this is further manifested with the TED, Salman Khan, and Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller.

I think MOOCs have now become the “steroid” to higher education, and that video lectures have turned HE into a highly “educated & entertaining” business, where every educator would soon be competing for attention, by engaging and attracting the learners using every means and strategies they have, in order to stay as educators.  Is that what educators be aspiring to?  May be, those famous actors who like to work and educate would be involved in these MOOCs, as they are the best actors in the world who could keep their students in suspense, through posting of interesting lectures, exciting stories, narratives of personal anecdotes and dancing or singing through, in educating the public.

May be this shuttle boy would interest you.

I will explore MOOC as an art in subsequent posts.

Video based teaching and flipped classroom – in MOOC and blended learning


Which is more important?  Content knowledge or creativity.

In this post,

Zhao asserts that “the successful transmission of prescribed content contributes little to economies that require creative and entrepreneurial individual talents and in fact can damage the creative and entrepreneurial spirit” and that “high test scores of a nation can come at the cost of entrepreneurial and creative capacity”.

I then reflected upon what all those educational videos mean to me, as an educator, in my learning.  Do I want to learn about the content of the video, or do I want to learn about how to create such video in a creative way?

I think that is what distinguishes between the pedagogy of instructivism and connectivism too – where absorbing the content knowledge is critical to learning under an instructivist approach, and creating new and emergent knowledge is critical to learning under a connectivist approach.

I would devote this post to video based teaching and flipped classroom, and how it would impact on the learning in MOOCs (both x and cMOOCs) and blended learning.

I think this is the fundamental pedagogy that relates to the use of videos and flipped classroom in both blended learning, and distance or online learning, such as those in Khan Academy and some of the xMOOCs.  These are discussed in pro and con of flipped classroom and The flipped classroom: what are the pros and cons.

I just came across this video and found some interesting points:

First, how would you ensure that learning is occurring with videos watching, and even responding to the questions posted?

I must admit that I like watching videos, but seldom ended without questioning what I have learnt.  If I found the video interesting and worthy of reflection, I would ask a few critical questions.  These included: what sort of new or emerging knowledge did I get out of watching this video? What concepts are relevant to our environment, and what are relevant to my own experiences?

I didn’t get much from some of the more elementary videos as I reckon they are purely for elementary school children, and I would not therefore be able to make a fair judgment on those videos.  So, it is not that those videos are not educational, only that I would not be able to sense the same value as those who actually use the video for educational purpose.

I have made the assumptions that these videos are useful for certain audiences but not me, and that I would use such criteria in judgment on numerous educational/entertainment videos.

This is why I found it interesting when people refer back to video based teaching as the “holy grail” that would help in flipped classroom.  I reckon video based teaching has been used in a classroom environment since I started teaching in the mid 80s.  What teachers would do was to show an educational video, followed by discussion and activities that critique on the issues raised in the video.  There aren’t much differences from that of the flipped classroom, except that mass lectures were seldom used as in the universities.  Instead, small class discussions with activities and simulated role plays are the norms rather than the exceptions in many classes we are conducting.  Isn’t it a surprise that we seemed to have just discovered the magic of discussions and debates in the classroom (or digital classroom), where discourse was held in the discussion boards or LMS.

What I think is essential for student learning is not just the mere showing of teaching on the writing pad, or the interactive white boards, or those shown in videos like Khan Academy (I mean they are still valuable, though they are just the starting point of in-depth learning).  What is essential is the initiation of learning based on the three dimensions: social, cognitive and teaching, where the student needs to be actively engaging in, and to make a sensible choice in balancing the three, in MOOCs and blended learning.

Here Eric mentions about the significance of learning whilst in the classroom environment, and suggests that lecturing alone may not be that effective in learning, despite its seemingly effectiveness in teaching a massive population.

Have I been lecturing throughout the years?  May be sometimes, but for most of the time, I preferred not to, though videos postings are too tempting as an alternative to lecturing.


Finally, I still think that flipping the learning, rather than the flipped classroom would make a BIG difference to learning, as shared here.

For me, a combination of education and learning may be a better alternative solution, rather than flipping the pendulum from one end (teaching only, without any learning involvement or engagement) to another end (learning only without any support initially or understanding learning needs).  Everyone learns differently, and there is no way of trying to fit everyone’s feet with the standardized shoes, though we could still continue to mass produce the shoes with the various sizes.

If we want our students to be the fountain of knowledge, we must let go and let them shine, so they would become the master of learning, and take ownership and authorship of their learning journey, as I have shared in my previous posts on self-directed learning and learning with autonomy.

What about your views on these video-based teaching and flipped classroom?

Just noted this post on flipped classroom by Audrey.

#CFHE12 #Oped12 Who stole my COW? Who stole my MOOC?

Who stole my cow?

mooc download (101)

What is COW? Cow stands for Course of WOW!  A MOOC.

WOW is the favorite word used by Tom Peters where he has written a book WOW!  “Peters now urges managers to go for “Wow!”, and encourages advanced eccentricity: “crazy” management.  But behind the show-biz approach there lies a sane idea: that managers need provocation, however wild it may appear, to jerk them out of established, ineffective ways, and to galvanize their businesses.” (Tom Peters, 2000, page 88)

Cogdog writes about cheese not a thing.

Who moved my cheese?

Who moved my CHEESE?

Who stole my MOOC?   It seems that all xMOOCs and cMOOCs are bound by certain Copy Rights, or Creative Commons, so don’t copy PLEASE!

Disclaimer: I have no intention of copying any “copyrighted” artifacts here in this post. Please also note that the word “stole” is used only literally here as a parody, not a legal sense.