Here is my previous post that I shared about the impact of MOOCs on learning.
I am re-posting comments here for further reflection.
MOOC as a Commodity and a Business
There are attempts to monetize MOOCs. Treating MOOC as a commodity have lots of implication. What I am concerned is: when such “education” becomes a business for profits only, who would be engaged? Only those who could afford it would buy it. Business people talk, sell, trade, and profit from education. That’s fine. But is that education? What is the value of education to the society? What is its real purpose? If we reflect on what makes a great education, then would we be more interested in growing and developing people, in supporting each other to become more active, engaging, valuable and valued members and individual & independent learners of society?
MOOC is owned by the people, not the rich who could pay, nor the poor who couldn’t afford to pay, but everyone who shows or shares an interest, in the conversation, in debates and discourse, or in games, or in education and learning, that would hopefully lead to the achievement of one’s goals and aspirations. Some may use it for upgrading their skills at work, or developing or enhancing knowledge in formal study or lifelong learning. I would be hesitant in using it as a “selling” weapon though.
(MOOC is owned by the institutions, in the case of xMOOCs, so my claim above is only “partially represented” in the case of cMOOCs. Even then, those cMOOC providers might correct me that MOOC is owned by their “institutions” whereas I would surely agree. My proposition here that MOOC is owned by the people is premised on the rich contribution of the participants of MOOCs who makes up the MOOC “ownership”. Besides, there was a comment by a respondent to the research survey, indicating that: MOOC is owned by the participants of the course. Sounds interesting to me.)
What could a MOOC offer? I think your sizzle metaphor could be applicable to those for profits MOOC. I like your question about removing money from that statement, what sizzle would compel people to participate in a MOOC? Can you force a horse to drink water when it doesn’t want to? You could only lead it to the river, and it will drink, especially when it feels thirsty.
Thinking about business model, I found this interesting, about creating learning community not courses. May be MOOC suffers from the term course itself, as it really sends a message that it intends to achieve a set of learning outcomes, as traditionally set in a course. It is NOT. It is more than what the course intends to achieve, and much broader than just learning about the “content” of the course. As some of “us” has experienced, it is centered around conversation, and use of various media and tools to help us to engage, or to reflect more deeply into what those sizzle (badges, accreditation, certification) means, for the educators, and the learners (educatee?). Such misnomer could send the “wrong message” that MOOC is just a social club too, as there is in fact no one single club owner to direct what others should or shouldn’t do. Those belong to the “kingdom” of business, with centralised vision and mission. MOOC does provide value proposition, just like any business, though these values are based on what each of the “stakeholders” and participants would like to define. And that is what (E)ducation in a new and emergent community (or networks) would likely re-define, its vision, mission, and thus value proposition.
Does increasing engagement, attention merely act to add sugar to the river, in order to ease the consumption of it? May I share the video on Why Mobile Learning? For some people (especially the case examples as shown in the video), they would be looking for access to “quality” information, to help them to think, to reflect upon, to raise a voice, or to learn some basic skills, or to help in solving a problem or making a decision.
So, MOOC for the “disadvantaged”, for the “less than abled, not just disabled” and for the less than fortunate (due to lack of access, or their lack of academic or intellectual abilities) could be equally valuable. Have we forgotten these important values for the people in the society? Give them fishes, and they would live for another day, but teach them how to fish, and they could feed for their lives. I don’t know if that could convince the “rich” to bestow more “care” to the poor, but I do think as a Catholic, that is the value that I aspire to, even when I was young. It could be about leveraging technology, to get a certificate (recognition), to make a living (as an educator, or an entrepreneur), and each profession could add values to others or society on a different scale, in a different way.
As I have worked on numerous projects (courses, programs) in the past as course coordinator, facilitator, instructor for the disadvantaged students, I have experimented with the concepts of Connectivism and MOOC to varying degrees. MOOC could be used as an alternative approach of helping students with those needs, through various means, media, and technology as mentioned.
Although MOOC sounds “chaotic, distributive, emergent” to the learners (and even educators), it is really through such learning that some would understand the meaning of learning in a digital era, in an authentic learning environment. Sometimes, these students may need to have a structured learning at first, but soon they would find it boring and lose interests in learning. This might be due to the lack of interaction or conversation, or the lack of interested engaging activities or projects, games etc. for them to learn. This is where hands on practice, and internship could add flavors to their learning.
There are lots of assumptions too, when first designing courses of MOOC, and so an understanding of the needs of participants would be necessary, if it is to be based on course outcomes and specific learning goals. Up till now, MOOC has only been experimented on courses run at a “graduate” level or “undergraduate – education/technology” level. This could be interesting to see if the concepts are applied more widely.
In summary, I could see the challenge of course, in this MOOC, but I reckon it’s the values that MOOC could bring along that is more important, as that might be the catalyst for awareness, in education, and in its transformation, within us, for us.
Is MOOC a class in a course?
As my co-learner Geoff Cain mentions in his post “what part of mooc don’t you understand”:
When Vaidhayanathan is writing about MOOCs, I assume he is not writing about the MOOCs that came from David Wiley, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Cormier, orJim Groom. I am sure he is writing about Coursera and Edx. I would not make any generalizations about those because I have never taken a class in Coursera or Edx. What I will say is that their pedagogy and methods are different from what are sometimes called “cMOOCs” or “Connectivist MOOCs.”
and that mentioned by Siva Vaidhyanthan here:
The classroom has rich value in itself. It’s a safe, almost sacred space where students can try on ideas for size in real time, gently criticize others, challenge authority, and drive conversations in new directions. But that does not mean that classrooms can’t or shouldn’t be simulated.
Is MOOC just a typical classroom where students have a sacred space, and can try on ideas for size in real time, gently criticize others, challenge authority, and drive conversations in new directions?
I don’t know if that is the case with x MOOCs.
For cMOOCs, I found there are open distributed space, recommended by the cMOOCs organisers, though such spaces are not always easy for participants to identify themselves with using their real identities due to personal reasons, like personal security, sensitive work or careers, or concerns of conflicts with that at work. Would the interactions and engagement happen in real time? Not always, in the case of cMOOCs, though it is always possible, when Twitter, Blackboard etc. are used. Would participants of cMOOCS be criticizing each others in cMOOCs? Yes. When it comes to challenging authority, that is always possible in cMOOCs, as had been witnessed in various occasions in CCK08, and subsequent cMOOCs. Relating to the driving of conversations in new directions, I think that is always the case for cMOOCs, in particular the CCK08, PLENK2010, and CHANGE11.
MOOC as a Community and Community of Practice
Mauriceabarry commented on my post: One of the biggest drawbacks, at least as I see it, is that MOOCs don’t seem to create much of a sense of community. Yes, MOOC might not create that sense of a community as we normally expect from online community.
I have shared my post and comments here:
Based on my past experiences with CCKs, PLENK2010 and other MOOCs, the community is quite different from the “typical” communities that we would define, as there is no distinct boundary for the community. Instead of a community, in MOOC, it consists of numerous networks and communities which formed and re-formed, with some sustained, and some re-configuration in the network-community that formed. MOOC participants might have morphed along conglomerate networks, or social media as the weeks progressed, thus staying on with a particular media for sometime, and/or created blogs for a particular purpose, and then, engaged with others for a while. This seems to behave in a self-organised manner, without any directions from any facilitators, but then the individuals within particular networks would set their own agenda, goals, or tasks which suited their needs.
I have been thinking long about those three criteria that you mentioned: mutual engagement, a joint enterprise, and a shared repertoire. Based on what I have experienced in MOOC, the COPs evolved over virtual space during and after MOOC do exhibit those criteria within small clusters of COPs where some of the participants were situated. Relating to the learning, meaning, and identity of the members of COP, this is where the landscape of practice – a digital and virtual space where the members visited or resided upon. That’s why I would suggest to reformulate the criteria that are typically used in COP. This would reflect more fully the new and emerging structure of MOOC (as a conglomeration of COPs and Networks) that is evolving, emerging and morphing along the digital landscape, not being bounded by the conventional structures. In other words, the unstructure becomes the structure, and uncourse becomes the course, and finally the unCOPs become the COPs. This is happening in lots of COPs too, where the lifespan of physical COPs are transforming into a blend of COPs, all re-defining the meaning of learning, meaning and identity in new and emerging ways. I would need to restudy the research findings (our CCKs, PLENK2010, and other study) to substantiate such claims. The latest study by Wenger et al could also be used to study such patterns.
I also found that many physical COPs were rather short-lived, and the purposes were ill-defined, with a lot of membership fading at a rapid rate. On the other hand, there have been many successful COPs which continued to grow and develop, but they were likely the ones that could “transform” themselves into new ways of functioning, rather than sticking to the three criteria only.
Relating to the MOOC being thought of as a shell, ecology, learning management system, or environment within which organizational structures such as COPs might exist, would you like to elaborate on what each of those terms mean to you?
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