MOOCs and the future of Higher Education

Would xMOOCs revolutionize Higher Education?

Here in MOOCs on the move: How Coursera is disrupting the traditional classroom, the question could be: Would such disruption lead to better education and learning in HE?  What are the impacts of these movements on educators and learners at a social, psychological and behavioral level?

There are lots of posts praising the greatness of MOOCs.  This one on massive-open-online-courses-transform-higher-education-and-science highlights that xMOOCs is transforming Higher Education and Science.  See this post too.

So, what would be the future of MOOCs and Higher Education?

Dave posted this Where do you see online education in 20 years? where he shares his concerns about MOOCs.

Dave predicts the 4 scenarios:

Case 1 – MOOC kills higher education

Case 2 – Analytics university

Case 3 – Corporate takeover

Case 4 – Community university

I see MOOCs as a phenomena based on Swarm Intelligence and Opportunistic Education, which is now “viewed” as a hype and disruptive innovation and technology to Higher Education.

How do people think about xMOOCs?

After watching this video, I started to realize that US does have a culture of “appreciation” as Tal mentioned, when promoting MOOCs.  The message could be simple: “If we don’t appreciate MOOCs, we would depreciate MOOCs”

Since the introduction of xMOOCs in 2011, I could sense a lot of gratitude and appreciation by the public media and many participants of xMOOCs.  See my collection of posts here.

There are lots of critics and media coverage on the “appreciation AND depreciation of MOOCs”.  If I were to recount the appreciation to depreciation, I think it could be 90% to 10% among media, whilst in the academic world it seems to be totally different, with less appreciation by many educators in particular.  Why?  I don’t have the answers here, and I don’t think it is possible to generalize the reasons behind such “pessimism” among the academics and educators.

I could see the xMOOCs are still based around instructivism, and it should be a good news for educators and professors, since this is still a pedagogy centered around the importance of teachers as the center of education.  Why would teachers and professors support the xMOOCs if that is the case?  There are lots of potential “problems” which are not easily identified here.

First, would the continuation of xMOOCs diminish and disrupt the role of traditional Higher Education and the associated traditional “face-to-face” and classroom delivery?

Second, what would be the future of educators and professors who are not engaged or involved in MOOCs?  Would they still be continuing their teaching with the conventional courses that have been delivered for years?  Would they need to “compete” with the rock-star professors who are teaching in the xMOOCs? How would their future employment be determined?

Third, we have found divided opinions as to what people (educators and learners) are expecting from these xMOOCs.  Some would like to see more engagements and interaction by the professors, in order to improve the delivery of “instruction”.  Others are using the opportunity of MOOCs to try out their ways of teaching (flipped learning) and automated and peer grading and assessment on massive number of students.  Many providers are also looking forward to make lots of profits out of this “model” of education, as they have to ensure an adequate return on investment, for the Venture Capitalists and the stakeholders.

Fourth, the future of Higher Education has now reached a crossroad where most of us don’t know what would be a financially sound and sustainable education model that would “save” Higher Education.  For me, I wish to see more positives coming out from both the xMOOCs and cMOOCs, as they could surely help in “educating the world”, by providing open and free education to anyone seeking one.

I have posted this on FB, Twitter, and Google +:

Let’s see who could rightly predict what would happen to HE & MOOCs in 2013 & 2014. Like to create & post a post/tweet & check it next year?

Future of Higher Education Part 2

Sounds like a good time to start looking at this important topic of the Future of Higher Education.

There have been lots of discussions going on, see here.

There are also low cost, online for credit courses introduced, which might soon become a common practice in lots of higher education institutions.

SAN JOSE — San Jose State University, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is also at the heart of a big American education experiment: low-cost online classes offered for credit.

If it works, high school and college students nationwide could by this summer have access to cheap, entry-level or remedial college courses.

What would the future of education look like in 2020?



#CFHE12 #Oped12 A reflection on the cMOOCs and xMOOCs and their future

When I reflect upon the two MOOCs – xMOOCs and cMOOCs in terms of how the courses are structured, I come to a conclusion that:

In xMOOCs, the professors plan out everything for the participants, the video lectures, the artifacts & resources, the forum and discussion boards, the assignments, the quizzes, the examination, the assessment rubrics, and even the “recommendations and referencing link” to potential employer.  Every learning is under a prescriptive regime, that if the participants follow the instruction, study the learning materials, watch the video lectures, then they could be able to master the content, and thus get a certificate if they satisfy the minimum requirements for the course. Here Keith Devlin explains how it works, with his MOOC. Sounds too good to say YES, right?

In cMOOCs, the professors and instructors provide a structure of the MOOCs, with artifacts & resources, coupled with certain online synchronous Blackboard or Elluminate sessions for the discussion, with certain aggregation platform (like MOODLE in CCK08, CCK09) and gRSShopper and OLDaily for the feeding and distribution of the blog and twitter posts etc.  For some courses like DS106, and MobiMOOCs there are assignments and projects for participants to work on.  Learning with cMOOCs is under an emergent regime, that if the participants could “follow” the idea of learning through dialogue, networking, cooperation and collaboration, and most important of all sharing, critiquing and reflecting on information and ideas that would lead to emergent learning.

Dave Cormier explains how a MOOC works here:

There are more than two millions Courserians in Coursera, there would be another few millions joining these MOOCs soon, as the competitions go on. It seems that we are now having Universities Chains competing against Universities Chains, as we see both UK universities are now joining in the competitions with the MOOCs chain.

George remarks here:

Universities simply don’t have time to respond to changes with multi-year consultations. Vision and action are required to stay relevant. I’m encouraged that UK has seen the need to move forward with an initiative that provides a UK spin on open courses.

I’m more dismayed now, however, than I was in July and the anemic vision and response by Canadian universities. Higher education is facing a changed landscape. Even if MOOCs disappear from the landscape in the next few years, the change drivers that gave birth to them will continue to exert pressure and render slow plodding systems obsolete (or, perhaps more accurately, less relevant).

As I have shared here about freebies stories, many more institutions would join in the Bandwagon, and would do more and more experiments in order to chart out their paths.  What about the sustainability of such MOOCs?  That is the biggest challenge.  Never in history have we experienced such “disruption” to education, and so I don’t think it would be easy to sustain MOOCs for long, unfortunately.  I hope I am wrong, but MONEY AND BUSINESS comes first under economic rationalism.

Based on the hundreds of initiatives (big innovative projects) that I have witnessed, only a few survived and succeeded.  Would this be the same for MOOCs?

Would MOOCs become a fad?

I don’t see why MOOCs wouldn’t fall into similar fates as the previous education propaganda of the month – be it “Progressive Education”, or “TQM”, or “Revolutionary education”, especially if these MOOCs are still having the same wine pouring into the old bottles.

I am for the MOOCs, especially when such MOOCs democratise education and benefit mankind with free open education.  However, in the long run, education can only be “free” if it is fully and continuously funded properly, likely by government or “joint governments” etc.  That is again a reality.

If MOOCs continue with the present trend of making more and more videos, with a principal approach of “mastery teaching” this would soon lead to a revert back to Web 1.0, where more and more fantastic video recorded lectures would be recorded, broad-casted, and then stay waiting to be watched by tens of millions of people who might be interested in joining in.  May be most people still prefer to be the consumers rather than prosumers of education products.

Am I optimistic about MOOCs?  May be!

Postscript: In this post:

The rise of Moocs on providers such as edX had created a “Napster moment for higher education”, he said, referring to the growth in free music file-sharing, pioneered by the original incarnation of the Napster website, that has upended the music industry’s business model.

He cited major businesses such as the Blockbuster video rental chain that had been driven to bankruptcy after being undercut and circumvented by internet offerings.

Another post relating to Futurelearn on free open online education by OU.

Future of Education Part 1

2012 seems to have become the year of Future Education.

We have never seen a dramatic increase in attention and discourse in online learning and education before.

Here we go, with the MOOCs, especially the x MOOC movement, just an year old phenomenon, and is still growing.

What would be the future of education?  There are ongoing debates about it.  I have shared some of my perspectives herehere, here, and here.

If future of education relates to higher education, then would it also be a good time to reflect on what it means to education throughout the whole spectrum of life?  This includes K-12, vocational and further education, higher education, distance and online education,  and life-long and wide learning and education.

Photo: Google image

How about education of k-12?

Peter Senge comments on the Future of Education.

To me, engagement and critical thinking is critical to our Future Education, where kids and adults would be engaged actively in networks and cooperate and collaborate to serve each others and the communities and networks.

See Part 2 in coming post.

#Change11 #CCK11 Online education on the move. What are the changes?

What would future education look like?  Michael has posted this video more than a year ago.  Has digital technology changed the way Higher Education, in particular lectures are conducted?  May be not, for the majority!

In this recent post on A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working  (as referred to Michael’s advice) the new message from Michael is to first focus on the intangible factor, the bond between professor and student.  I would fully agree on the importance of the bonding in formal education, where teaching and learning has been built around knowledge acquisition and transfer, from professors to students.  This is often the case in formal “education” where certain values are attached to the teacher student relationship.

Also there has always been an emphasis on the building of relationship between teacher and students, to facilitate the learning process in those environments.

At this digital age of learning, what sort of bonding would be desirable especially in Higher Education?  Is effective learning dependent on such bonds?  As teacher and student’s role has gradually blurred, it could be argued that students would be expecting differently when learning online.

May be in a typical face-to-face classroom environment, the bonding could still be very important, but how about mass lecture?

Or where graduate students are learning over global networks, with the professor supporting the student merely as a mentor, rather than a “teacher”.  Would the bonding be different altogether from those in novice learners where close guidance and intervention are required?  I just wonder if such bonding would be dependent on the learning context and learning capability of the learners.  So, for more autonomous and capable learners, they would focus on the learning based on self directed learning, rather than the bonding that is necessary.  Rather, these learners might consider the professors and peers as part of the support to their learning, as I have shared in my ideal conception of learner-centered learning, together with peer-to-peer learning.

Higher education is going to digital.  There are huge implications when most higher education courses in institutions have become online.  The MITx is a big move that would test the uncharted water, using a global digital landscape.  It could be interesting to learn how the course would be delivered by MITx as mentioned by Tony here.

“It has a number of interactive components, such as student discussions (but without an instructor) and automated feedback and testing.”  So, where is the instructor?  Would the instruction be automated?  Yes the assessment and feedback could all be automated, and so there may not need to be any human to human interaction.  Rather, that would be a human (learner) interacting with the artifacts, videos (recordings from instructors) or the assessment tools or networks. Would there be any bonding between instructor(s) and students?  May be a “one way bond, as the instructor might never know who the students are, and these students are just a code, a number or a record on the system and a node in the network or community.”  We may even have robots teachers, teaching in K-12, or even in Vocational Education and Training, and Higher Education.

So is bonding between professor and students still important in online education and learning?

Are we having an online education revolution?  I suppose not yet.  Why?

The five parts of the Education Harvest as shared by Michael Karnjanaprakorn include

1. Gadgets and Blended Learning

2. Social Learning and Collaboration

3. Open Resources and Classrooms

4. Adaptive, personalized learning

5. Creative certification

These are all changing.  As I have shared in my previous posts, we may just be having a pendulum swing from one to the other, and then back, to formal education, with more centralized control and formal systems in place, due to the governance and requirements for certification.

Who would decide on these education changes? And how would such changes  be made?

Here is the conversation on Future of Our Universities.