Change and MOOCs

What sort of values and pedagogy are reflected in the c and X MOOCs?  What changes have occurred as a result of the introduction of MOOCs into institutions (higher education institutions in particular)?

In an 1838 address to graduates of the Harvard Divinity School, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul.”

“I don’t think we can emphasize too much this distinction between instruction and provocation, facts versus knowledge, discipline versus inspiration, information versus insight,” Delbanco said.

It seems that our traditions are based more on instruction, facts, discipline and information, which have all been revealed in the latest MOOCs.

Why would institutions want to introduce xMOOCs?  These relate back to the questions raised about changes in culture and the necessary school reforms here by Michael Fuller:

“Does the change address an unmet need? Is it a priority in relation to other unmet needs? Is it informed by some desirable sense of vision? Are there adequate resources committed to support implementation?”
These questions help guide our information-gathering process to determine if we have developed enough meaning to implement the change effectively or whether to reject it.

I have shared here:

1. Adopting MOOCs as a disruptive innovation to combat the disruptive impact due to numerous MOOCs and to drive down the cost of higher education delivery in their institutions.

In emergence of MOOCs, I reflected:

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.

Most elite institutions are interested in embracing MOOCs mainly because that would help them in maintaining leadership in Higher Education, by the adoption of online education, and to experiment with “best practice” that they have in mind.  This will further ensure their continuing world leadership position in the provision of Higher Education.

Besides, most institutions realize that power of disruption against disruption may be the best strategy that they could employ, to avoid being “defeated” when waking up,  when everybody else is playing the game of MOOCs.

2. Adopting MOOCs to promote particular pedagogy, and in the case of xMOOCs, the effectiveness of Instructivism and Mastery Learning.

These are rational strategies, especially for elite institutions, as that is where best professors are employed to teach the best courses in the world.

Have we shared a common understanding on all these?  Isn’t it true that professors still have different views about MOOCs?  There seem to be some resistance from the professors as revealed in various incidences.

There are however differing views on how these pedagogy are used effectively in MOOCs, especially when the outcomes are often interpreted differently by different authorities and educators.

I have shared here What does a world class MOOC look like?

Personalization of education and learning

What should our future education be aiming for?  Massification of education or personalization of learning?

In this paper on Instructional Theory by Reigeluth C. (2012), he highlights the need of having more personalized approach towards learning, through a post-industralist instructional approach, where learner becomes the centre for learning.

In this Mastery Learning and this paper on Mastery Learning, there are benefits of adopting its philosophy in MOOCs.  That’s also the central pedagogy adopted by most xMOOCs providers.

As I have shared in my previous post, students may master what is expected to be learnt if all teachers are teaching solely to the test.  However, it seems that many people might have mis-understood the initial intention of Mastery Learning, where the intention is NOT to ask the teacher to teach only those concepts for the sake of assessment or testing, but to allow the learners to master their learning at their own pace, in a progressive manner with immediate feedback in order to reinforce their understanding of concepts, and to correct any mis-understood concepts where possible.  Besides, Mastery Learning could be effectively employed in a mentoring and apprenticeship program where the mentor could guide the mentee through the program.

The future of education though would lie with personalization rather than massification of education as Aoki concludes here

This massification of online education appears to go in an opposite direction to personalization that elearning and use of ICT in education should aim for the purpose of providing more effective individualized learning experiences to learners.

How to progress from massification to personalization of online education?  I have shared that here.

Giving  students the correct answers strict away may sound a good instructional approach towards teaching.  However, have the students learnt how to arrive to those calculations?  Have the students mastered the concepts CORRECTLY?  How do we know if the students could apply their skills and transfer them from one area to another, in solving problems?

Aoki elaborates further on how personalization of learning could be achieved:

With the vast amount of data gathered through learners, personalization will become possible eventually with proper learning analytics and data mining. Furthermore, quality of learning outcomes may be further assured with the evidence of learning.

The 3 Ms, quality and instructional design of MOOCs

The 3 Ms of MOOCs are Mission, MOOCs and Money.

The fundamental questions boards should be asking include:

  • Why are we online? Is the movement to or expansion of online education consistent with the institutional mission? Does and will it serve and advance the institutional mission? Or is the key issue in the discussion about online education—including any conversations about MOOCs—money?
  • How do we assess quality—that of our own online offerings and those of others, including the MOOCs?
  • What will it take to achieve our objectives in terms of online learning—including human and financial capital, content expertise, the political will to change, and many other concerns?

Quality in online education, in particular MOOCs might be defined differently from those quality in classroom education, with a face-to-face teaching environment. What is quality of MOOC from the perspective of educators, learners, and employers?

Quality is defined as conformance to requirements (Philip B. Crosby) (slide on Cost of Quality as Driver of Quality Improvement).  Have the cost of conformance and non-conformance been examined and analysed in MOOCs?  What are the “true cost” of MOOCs in the quality equation?

The questions relating to quality in a MOOC are:

1. Whose requirements are most important to be met?  If MOOCs are for the learners, then the conformance to requirements would likely be decided by the learners.  This is quite challenging, in case of institutions, where quality is defined in terms of the institutional requirements.  From a historical perspective, there are always differing requirements from institutions, employers, educators and learners, and so what is best in quality is seldom agreed upon, especially under an open education and learning environment.

2. How is quality determined in MOOCs? What may be viewed as quality may need to be re-examined in light of changing circumstances, as those requirements, purpose (if quality is defined also as fitness of purpose) are changing rapidly in a complex educational landscape. In Tony’s post where he posts:

some questions that someone should be asking:

  1. Where is the quality control? Surely Coursera should accept some responsibility for this. They are getting paid by the institutions to host these courses. Shouldn’t they at least be asking some questions about what tools people are planning to use, and whether or not they will work with very large numbers? Are they doing due diligence before accepting and advertising their MOOCs? Apparently not. Nor did Georgia Institute of Technology. What has this done to its reputation?
  2. Are questions being asked about the qualifications or experience of the people who are offering MOOCs? Just a brief glance at this particular course suggests that the instructor had little experience herself in planning and managing online courses. Georgia Institute of Technology is not at the top of my list of institutions with experience in online learning. But then, anyone can teach an online course about online learning, can’t they?

The questions that may be most important in MOOCs are those relating to the institution’s overall mission and responsibility (duty of care), if it is viewed from an education authority’s perspective.  Why?  This fundamentally impacts on institution’s reputation and credibility in HE, and so risk management and control would likely be considered far more important than any other questions relating to instructors’ credibility and course administration, though these questions do impact on the success of MOOCs. It seems unfortunate that some of these failures relate to the design and delivery of MOOCs – when MOOCs melt down:

 just how much thought is given to instructional design issues when MOOCs are drawn up? How much peer review is given to MOOCs, and their professors, before they go public?

In the case of cMOOCs, the instructional design is framed differently.  Here Jenny says:

A cMOOC (or the original intention of cMOOCs) is about a personal learning journey – not about a required/intended/desired outcome – and in that sense I am interested to see the extent to which this highly structured MOOC, with a clear requirement for an intended outcome (a project design), supports personal learning journeys. 2. Which leads, community or curriculum – in this MOOC? For me at the moment it feels like the curriculum is leading, in the sense that the ‘course’ is highly structured and this structure is very much in the control of the MOOC designers.

This is a fundamental question relating to MOOCs where a difference in community approach or curriculum approach in MOOCs would likely determine the overall quality as perceived by the institutions, community and learners. How do these relate to mission of MOOC providers? The mission of edX via MOOCs:

“While MOOCs have typically focused on offering a variety of online courses inexpensively or for free, edX’s vision is much larger. EdX is building an open source educational platform and a network of the world’s top universities to improve education both online and on campus while conducting research on how students learn.”

This seems similar to my posting here in opportunistic education:

There are further opportunities in building education models where quality of education and learning experience are co-constructed and co-created by multiple networks of institutions and communities and networks, with a consortium of MOOCs like edXUdacityCoursera or the UK Open Learn initiative.

Alternative platforms of MOOCs in forms of opportunities of learning are emerging, and competition is keen, among MOOCs’ providers as more and more institutions joined the bandwagon of MOOCs. As I shared in my post, MOOCs need to be viewed differently in an institutional framework, if a business model is to be adopted.  Developing and adopting a vision and mission that embrace disruptive innovation and take calculated risks is never easy.  It is however the best time to transform education through integrating pockets of changes, where a ground breaking attempt would eventually help the institution in morphing into a totally new world of education, probably with MOOCs.

3. Where there are more and more problems emerging out of MOOC design, delivery and development, that is good, because this would give a chance for scholars, researchers, administrators, educators, and learners to change and adapt their teaching and learning, based on a shift in the pedagogy, paradigms.

This would challenge each of them to re-think about the importance, significance and implications of online participation (with a participatory culture), collaboration and cooperation, as a network, as a cluster of educators, researchers, and learners throughout the global networks, as an institution, or a partnership of institutional networks.

This would stimulate and promote stakeholders to research, to learn and to improve and innovate altogether,  in order to tackle the challenges ahead of us and that of our next generation.  That is the change and transformation needed to keep abreast of knowledge and learning in an ever changing world.

4. Are we living in an era of disruptive digital media based ecology? The challenge is huge, but the reward is even bigger.  The more we know, the more we know that we don’t know.  And that is learning as growth and development, both individually and as connective and collective wisdom.

This is the time to celebrate the successes and failures, through experimentation, and possible failures of MOOCs, where educators and learners could learn together.  Without trials, we never learn.

Will MOOC revolutionize Higher Education?

The most important question in MOOCs for any business enterprise or education institution could be: where is the money?  This is critical, if MOOCs are to be sustainable in decades to come.

We haven’t forgotten the dot.com era where the volatile education business ventures could easily turn into bubbles.

In the dot.com/dot.edu era, and perhaps again now, the expectation among some observers is that going online has the potential to be highly profitable and “only” requires a syllabus, servers, and students willing to sit in front of screens (“eyeballs” in the lexicon of the dot.com era).

In summary, mission and money are now blended together when considering MOOCs under an institutional framework.  This seems to be a time where a critical mass of institutions and learners have justified the promotion and adoption of MOOCs in a global arena of Higher Education. We have noted that quality of design and delivery of MOOCs would impact on how MOOCs are valued by different stakeholders: the institutions, the educators, the instructional designers, and most importantly, the learners.

Where are MOOCs going?  Are they really disrupting Higher Education?  They could be changing the education ecology in a totally surprising way that not too many people have predicted.

Photo: Google image

Higher Education Bubble 1 images

Can a network of learners play the role of teacher? More reflections – I

I couldn’t sign in to read the article.  I can’t comment because I haven’t read the full paper. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a784754045~db=all I am wondering the reason why people are looking for efficiency in learning. 

An old saying: it takes half to a year to grow a crop, ten years to grow a tree, and many tens of years to grow people.  At this digital age, we have a manic society.  How long will it take to grow and develop a person – to become a digital, net or network citizen?  Do you need a seond life?

Here is a picture in a scene featured in a best-of compilation called Parrot Sketh Not Included:

It is the Silly Olympics.  The stadium is full.  There is a blue sky overhead.  There is a sense of great anticipation as the main event is about to begin.  Assembled at the starting line are the finalists – an elite band of runners who have absolutely no sense of direction.

The runners are clearly agitated.  They are itching to get on with the race.  The starting gun fires, and the runners are off.  Very quickly they all leave the track – sprinting forwards, sprinting backwards, sprinting sideways, sprinting in circles.  They are all running extremely fast.  Maximum haste.  Great effort.  Fantastic speed.  Very athletic.  But there is no track, no direction, no finishing line and, ultimately, no purpose to the running.

How does this relate to the learning in this ‘Fast Society’?  Are we no difffernt to the fast runners?  Are we becoming a generation of “fast laners” in the networks?  Are we testing the limits of fast living, fast business, fast learning, fast instructions?  Fast posting? Fast responses? Fast research?…..Fast teachers?  And fast learners?  So you don’t need years to become expert, don’t you?

Is instruction important?  Do you need a purpose to your learning?