#CFHE12 #Oped12 The emergence of MOOCs – Part 1

The current popularity of MOOCs is like the running of Olympic Games, where different MOOCs are competing with each others in a global arena of education.

What is MOOC?

The emergence of MOOCs has touched the nerves of many college and educational leaders. To some educators, professionals and learners, MOOCs seem to have become the hype of education of the year.  To others who are working as professors, educators and administrators, MOOCs have become part of their institutions’ growth and development, especially so in institutions like Coursera, Udacity and edX and the associated universities.  To some learners in the developing countries, MOOCs have afforded them with opportunities to learn from the highly prestigious institutions in the world that they couldn’t even dream of in the past.  So, MOOCs values could be viewed differently for different people.  It surely could be one of the most significant trend in this time of flux in Higher Education.

This paper aims to examine, explore and reflect on the following themes: the paradoxes, drop out problem, pedagogy, the emergence and the future of MOOCs.  I would recommend solutions to these challenges based on a mega-research of MOOCs and critical reviews into current pedagogy adopted by Higher Education institutions.  Further research into the educational values and value proposition of MOOCs is necessary to unearth its long term potential in re-creating or revolutionizing Higher Education.

What are the paradoxes in MOOCs?

In this post where two paradoxes were raised:

Paradox 1:  Most MOOCs are offered by elite institutions which don’t need to expand their student base

MOOCs, like open educational resources, provide a genuine opportunity to spread an institution’s educational mission outside the campus.

Paradox 2: Highly successful MOOCs attack the core business of those who are offering them

Elite institutions offering MOOCs will therefore never allow them to become as credible as their regular fee-incurring provision.

There are motives of elite institutions that are highly sophisticated, and that could go beyond their current missions.  One of the most important visions and missions is based on the need to maintain their global leadership position in distance, online and open education.  This could be one of the reasons why those institutions are interested in adopting the MOOC model and platform as they could reach massive number of learners and students across the globe.

The adoption of MOOCs could also be built on the imperatives that education is the foundation of a knowledge based economy in their nations.  Besides, online education is a billion dollars business.  There is also a need to explore and research on how students learn online, which will enable the institutions and teachers to enhance their teaching for their regular students.

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.

As Rebecca mentions here: to her, there seems to be one level of participation in most x MOOCs.   You got to register into the course before you could view the resources, or the video lectures.   For some of the x MOOCs, however, you could choose to lurk, or formally complete the course work required.

if you simply wish to lurk, or pick-and-choose how you participate, you may very likely be counted as a “drop-out” rather than someone who succeeded in the course at the level in which they committed. I think this lack of levels of participation does a disservice to the xMOOCs.

This could be a determining success factor of MOOCs, as the number and percentage of successful “graduates” or those who could complete the course by satisfying all stipulated requirements of the awarding institution or professor is critical to such courses.  These pass rates are important in deciding if it is a cost-effective model of education, as determined by the institutions.  Indeed, all institutions would need to justify their investment in education and the associated resources provided – including the professors, the administrators, the support staff like librarians, the facilities, and the technological infra-structures.  This would likely be based on the number of graduates or completion of units in the educational programs, as that could also be the basis of funding provided by the government or relevant bodies in society.

What are the most significant problems in MOOCs?  

Drop out problems with MOOCs

Dropout in online learning courses has always been a concern for both educators and learners.  This is especially so in xMOOCs, where drop outs are common.  Terry mentions here on the drop out issue:

“In a recent post Phil Hill identified four barriers that MOOCs have to overcome – one of which was high drop out rate. Daphe Koller co-founder of Coursera has argued  in an Inside Higher Ed post that “The [students] who drop out early do not add substantially to the cost of delivering the course,” she says. The most expensive students are the ones who stick around long enough to take the final, and those are the ones most likely to pay for a certificate.” So in both models of MOOC (as evidenced by the ;’massive’ in the acronym) adding a few hundred or a few thousand non participating students is easily done at extremely low cost. This does however demonstrate accomplishment or learning.”

Here are my hypothesis about the huge drop outs of MOOCs:

Hypothesis 1

Drop out due to a mismatch between the course offered and the needs and expectations of the participants.

Here I have assumed four types of participants:

Type 1: Professors and experts of the domain, educators, professionals, expert learners,

Type 2: Administrators, advanced learners, veterans, graduate students

Type 3: Undergraduate students, experienced learners

Type 4: Novices, learners with little or no experience in online learning

Hypothesis 2

Drop out due to personal reasons

Lack of time

Lack of motivation to continue with learning

Lack of skills and experience in online learning

Lack of access to internet, mobile devices, or a lack of technology

Lack of interests – overwhelming information,

Mismatch of presentation and delivery to individual’s learning style – Course presentation or video lectures not fitting into individual’s learning style

Personal or work commitment, health, family issues etc

A combination of some of the above factors

Hypothesis 3

Drop out due to lack of support as perceived by participants

Lack of social and peer support

Lack of educational support

Lack of technical support – where learners didn’t know how to perform due to a lack of technical knowledge

To what extent are these 3 hypothesis reflective of the reality in MOOCs?

Kop et al. 2010 reveals in their research that: barriers to learning include zone differences, language differences, difficulties in connecting with others in different spaces, lack of skills in the use of tools, difficulties in making connections with facilitators and/or learners, and power relations. Furthermore, a high number of participants mentioned personal reasons, such as lack of time to participate, as explanations for why they took on more of a consuming role in the course rather than an active, participative one.

These all could lead to “drop-out” at various stages of learning in MOOCs.

What could be some plausible ways to decrease the drop-out rates, and increase the level of participation in MOOCs?  These are questions which need to be addressed both at an institutional and research level.

Drop out due to non-educational reasons are naturally not easily resolved, as they may be due to personal reasons, and could hardly be addressed through education intervention.

What are the pedagogies adopted in MOOCs?

Pedagogy of MOOCs

In this post by Vardi:

It is well established that a professional soliloquy is an ineffective way of teaching.

Active and authentic learning – based on projects or problem-based learning, peer learning and flipping the lecture has been hailed as the panacea to the traditional didactic teaching, where much of the academic teaching still consists of professors monologuing to large classes.

Vardi comments: We could undoubtedly improve our teaching, but MOOCs are not the answer to our pedagogical shortcomings.


Relating to my previous post:

this comprehensive critique on MOOC entitled making sense of MOOC by John Daniel.

Relating to the paper, my comments below:

“that xMOOC learners preferred teachers to scrawl formulae on the modern equivalent of a blackboard rather than presenting them on slides.”

I doubt if xMOOC learners preferred teachers to scrawl formulae on blackboard (or that on Youtube).  What learners are looking for could be interaction with the instructors, if ever possible in those type of presentation.   Learners who are keen to learn through dialog would prefer to raise questions, when in doubt of the content or unsure about the concepts explained in the presentation.  It is a rather passive way of learning by watching the instructors “broadcasting” their short video lectures.

“I have argued that modern ICT, what my former Open University colleague Marc Eisenstadt named the ‘knowledge media’, are qualitatively different from previous technological aids to education. That is because they lend themselves naturally to the manipulation of symbols (words, numbers, formulae, image) that are the heart of education, as well as providing, through the Internet, a wonderful vehicle for the distribution and sharing of educational material at low cost.” (Daniel, 2012)

I reckon the use of ICT is just part of the solution in Higher Education, especially when the focus is shifted towards higher level, deep and meaningful learning.

“But while the potential of ICT to improve and extend education while cutting its cost is not in doubt, the results so far have generally been disappointing (Daniel, 2012b, Toyama, 2011). We should bear the reasons for these disappointments in mind in trying to ensure that MOOCs contribute to these goals for improving education and are not just another flash in educational technology’s pan.”

ICT should and would enable learners to have a meaningful experience if they are incorporated into the learning platform based on teaching, social and cognitive presence.  This aligned with:”The central core of an education experience, or learning experience is deep, thoughtful, and reflective study and engagement with a body of knowledge in a multiplicity of forms – facts, techniques, algorithms and practices, analytical frameworks, evidence.  (Open Education Chapter 7)

The story as told by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman in this Networked The New Social Operating System well illustrates that:

The networked operating system gives people new ways to solve problems and meet social needs.

Whether MOOCs could heighten learners to such a level of networked learning is still mooted.

I would however, think there are still lots of positives and potentials in the MOOCs, as I have shared them in the past posts.

Though there are lots of criticisms on x MOOCs, I think institutions are using these opportunities to steer the changes needed in Higher Education.

This is perhaps a time of huge change for Higher Education that would leave a huge footprint in its landscape.  There is simply NO RETURN.

I have made some proposition about the MOOCs here.

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.

Recommendations for future research

There  is an urgent need to conduct mega-research of MOOCs and critical reviews into current pedagogy adopted by Higher Education institutions.  Further research into the educational values and value proposition of MOOCs is necessary to unearth its long term potential in re-creating or revolutionizing Higher Education.

What are some of the possible remedies and solutions to the challenges to MOOCs?  These would be examined and explored in future papers – Part 2.

Will educational policy necessitates, such as opening universities, turning to new groups of students and supporting the concept of autonomous learning, not be bogged down by traditional structures?  (The transformation of the University into an institution of independent learning, p 242)

#Change11 #CCK12 Creatagogy – the basis of Creation – of Values, Education & Learning, and Community

Time is ripened to grow and develop a pedagogy that describes, explains and expands Creatagogy – how it has been applied in MOOCs and how it could be used to create future MOOCs.  This requires a connective creativity with collective wisdom (Wisdom of the Crowd) and individual creativity and creative learning capacity connected to networks with technology affordance.  We envision a direction based on connective and connective wisdom to inform Creatagogy.

In response to my previous post on Creatagogy, I have received some warm calls for its further development, by means of wikis or Google Doc.

Research question:

1. What are the principles underpinning Creatagogy?

2.How would Creatagogy create and enhance learning experience in a networked learning environment?

3. What are the values derived from Creatagogy – on learners, educators, community and institutions?

What could Creatagogy achieve?

Creatagogy would then become the basis of the creation of values, education and learning, and community.  This would provide value and benefit to the institution, education and learning communities and most important of all, the learners, so as to enrich one as part of the creation of global learning community, embracing creativity as one of the core capability and a way of life.

I think some of the principles enlisted on paragogy (see this paper on Paragogy– a learning pedagogy for peer-producing and self-directed learning would be very useful for reflection:

  1. Changing context as a decentered center.
  2. Meta-learning as a font of knowledge.
  3. Peers provide feedback that wouldn’t be there otherwise.
  4. Learning is distributed and nonlinear.
  5. Realize the dream if you can, then wake up!

In reflection, there are common threads in among the MOOCs created so far. Here Jim in his Ed Parkour critiqued on the values of MOOC.  Here I would like to quote his view:

I can’t imagine we want to turn the potential of the MOOC into a market, we want to take education back from the markets. We want more “green spaces” for teaching and learning, to quote Brian Lamb. We need a form of open, online class expereinces that are free of venture capital and the next celebrity professor, a community of learning that leverages the resources we already have at publicly funded brick and mortar institutions and open them up to the world, and there is no reason the world can’t, in turn, directly inform what happens at institution.

I hope the development of open online learning environments (OOLE) would benefit and add values to professors, learners, communities and institution, extending the traditional values of formal education to a new level based on Creatagogy.

Here are some of the resources I have collected on Creative Learning and Creativity:

What is creativity?

This slideshare summarizes some thoughts about creativity:

In this article by Mihaly, Creativity consists of 3 main components:

1. Domain – which consists of a set of symbolic rules and procedures.

2. Field – which includes all the individuals who act as gatekeepers to the domain.

3. Individual – who using symbols of a given domain, comes up with a new idea or sees a new pattern.  His or her thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain.  There are lots of individuals who are well known to us – like Albert Einstein, and Issac Newton in Science, and Pablo Picasso in Arts.

There are certain claims by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that stimulates me to reflect on my perceptions and experience about creativity:

– How creative great scientists eventually became bears little relationship to how talented they were as children. This is especially true for great scientists like Albert Einstein, and Issac Newton.

– What makes creative people different from others is complexity.  This is an interesting claim.

– Low intelligence can undermine creativity.

– Being intellectually brilliant can also be detrimental to creativity.

What is creative Learning? Steve Wheeler provides an excellent presentation here.

Can Only Intelligent People be Creative? Kyung concludes:

The negligible relationship between creativity and IQ scores indicates that even students with low IQ scores can be creative.  Therefore, teachers should be aware of characteristics of creative students- this will enable teachers to see the potential of each child.

In this “What sort of  Creativity support tools are useful in the development creativity skills?” the design principles for creativity support tools include:

– Support exploratory search

– Enable collaboration

– Provide rich history keeping

– Design with low thresholds, high ceilings and wide walls

These principles could then be further researched through application in the social media.

What is a theory of Creativity?

When it comes to theory of creativity, this  Idea Generation in Groups: A Basis for Creativity in Organizations provide a grounded framework.

As highlighted by  Toward a Theory of Organisation Creativity, to understand creativity in a social context necessitates an exploration of creative processes, creative products, creative persons, and creative situations.  A useful theory of organizational creativity must provide a framework of sufficient complexity and richness to integrate these four components.

This Creative synthesis further reinforces the importance of creativity.

How would creativity relates to Complex adaptive system?  

In this “A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?” Activating mood states produce more creativity than deactivity mood states, and there were strong indications that this is particularly the case when mood states were associated with a promotion rather than a prevention focus.  Bass et. al. (2008) suggested to frame the task as enjoyable and interesting to do.  Also anger and happiness should be cherished, and sadness and relaxation should be frowned upon.

Creative Learning Theory

I am still formulating the principles and model of this Creative Learning Theory

I would explore these with others through this exciting MOOC on Creativity.

Cloud Computing and Creativity

Kop, R. and Carroll, F. (2011) Cloud Computing and Creativity: Learning on a Massive Open Online Course, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Special Issue on Creativity and OER (journal article)


Baas, Matthijs; De Dreu, Carsten K. W.; Nijstad, Bernard A. (November 2008). “A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?”Psychological Bulletin 134 (6): 779–806. doi:10.1037/a0012815.PMID 18954157.

Kim, K.H. (2005). Can Only Intelligent People be Creative? – A Meta Analysis. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education. Vol XVI, No. 2/3 Winter/Spring 2005, pp.  57-66


Csikszentmihalyi, M. Creativity – Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. Creativity

Idea Generation in Groups: A Basis for Creativity in Organizations

I am intending to create a wiki and or Google Doc to conduct research and to apply the principles at work in a few weeks time.  These require the cooperation and collaboration of people who would like to explore together in our networks, including MOOCs of Change11, CCK12, Learning Analytics and the one that is forthcoming – a short MOOC for education developers as mentioned by Jenny Mackness.  So let’s start using a Google doc or wiki to collect stories of creative learning, and research through Change11 and CCK12.

Are you interested in this joint project/venture of exploring into Creatagogy?  I believe it requires some joint efforts like the MOOC BLOG CALENDAR.

I am intending to create and develop some papers on this Creatagogy basing on the wiki or Google research.  Do these meet your goals and needs?  Please tell me if you are interested in the conduction of research (a small group? or a number of groups?)

Postscript: This flow experience relates to creativity and creative learning.

Useful references here on Peeragogy by Howard Rheingold.

#PLENK2010 Emotional and Social Intelligence and PLENK

The sociable brain (Daniel Goleman in his book Social Intelligence): Neuroscience has discovered that our brain’s very design makes it sociable, inexorably drawn into an intimate brain-to-brain linkup whenever we engage with another person. That neural bridge lets us affect the brain-and so the body-of everyone we interact with, just as they do us.
Even our most routine encounters act as regulators in the brain, priming our emotions, some desirable, others not.  The more strongly connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the mutual force.
Does this explain why networkers are having strong or weak ties in social networks, where emotions could play a part in its formation, development and sustainability? What would be your basis of your weak ties/connections?  Ideas or information sharing? Emotional sharing? Socialising?

In search of answers to the above questions, I explored this Bar-on Model of Emotional Social Intelligence .  It provides some important insights into emotional and social intelligence.

emotional-social intelligence is a cross section of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and facilitators that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them, and cope with daily demands.

I would also rate this article as one of the best in emotional and social intelligence that I have read, as the research was extensive, and findings based on strong evidences.

Ref to p7 of 28:

More specifically, the Bar-On model reveals that women are more aware of emotions, demonstrate more empathy, relate better interpersonally and are more socially responsible than men. On the other hand, men appear to have better self-regard, are more self-reliant, cope better with stress, are more flexible, solve problems better, and are more optimistic than women. Similar gender patterns have been observed in almost every other population sample that has been examined with the EQ-i. Men’s deficiencies in interpersonal skills, when compared with women, could explain why psychopathy is diagnosed much more frequently in men than in women; and significantly lower stress tolerance amongst women may explain why women suffer more from anxiety-related disturbances than men (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

The above findings sound well when I reflect on my observations in social networks, though I think more researches need to be done to substantiate the claims, in order to avoid any stereotyping.

Would gender difference affect the way how people use PLENK and connect with others? This could be important to understand, and if the findings of the research are right, then this may imply that more women are able to connect with others than men in social networks due to their superior skills in empathy and emotional awareness, whereas men may be able to cope better with stress, are more flexible, solve problems better, and are more optimistic than women.

This led me to explore further…..

In this Social intelligence, innovation, and enhanced brain size in primates by Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Laland

Individuals capable of inventing new solutions to ecological challenges, or exploiting the discoveries and inventions of others, may have had a selective advantage over less able conspecifics, which generated selection for those brain regions that facilitate complex technical and social behavior. An alternative account is that primates are making opportunistic use of information processing capabilities afforded by a large executive brain that has evolved for some other reason to cope with challenges in new flexible ways. However, as these two hypotheses are not mutually exclusive (3), our findings support the view that social learning and innovation may have been important processes behind the evolution of large brains in primates.

To the extent that innovation is a measure of asocial learning, the correlation between social learning and innovation frequencies suggests that asocial and social learning have evolved together. This pattern suggests that social and asocial learning may be based on the same processes (50), which conflicts with the widely held view that social learning requires distinct psychological abilities from asocial learning (70). However, we cannot rule out the possibility that social and asocial learning are separate, domain-specific capacities (14, 15) that have undergone correlated evolution.

If the findings of the research are right, then innovation (as a measure of asocial learning) based on the use of PLENK and social learning might have evolved together, confirming that social learning and innovation is part of the evolution in past decade.  Could we separate the social and asocial learning?  That remains a myth.

This emotional and social intelligence is just so interesting for me to explore.

Photo: From Flickr


Postscript: Just read Heli’s Designing for commitment in online communities Great insights from Heli.

Will reflect and respond.