The World Class MOOCs

I won’t be writing for a while. Here is my past post on MOOCs, for sharing and your comments.

Who controls the world?

Here are some take-away from James B. Glattfelder’s talk on Who Controls the World.

1. Complexity is the result of simple interactions. The system as a whole is starting to behave in ways which cannot be understood or predicted by looking at the component of the system.  Examples of emergence include termite and mold.  The concept of emergence relates to the property that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

2. Every complex system is understood as a network of interactions.

James quoted the example of The Network of Global Network Control.

Ownership networks:

Nodes: firms, people, governments

Links: percentage of ownership

Value of firms

3. Who are the key players?  Who controls the world?

4. Are ideas and concepts more important than empirical data?

5. With 36% TNCs, but 95% value, does it follow Power Law?  Controls accumulate at the nodes.

6.  It seems self-organization are operating in these networks, rather than top-down approach in the control of these networks.

How would such learning be applied to education?

The present trend of the rapid expansions of MOOCs (see also this Class Central list) and open online education courses (such as Open Universities) do exhibit most of the properties of Complex System and Complex Adaptive System, especially when education is now open to public, and to the world.  I have shared the ideas and concepts on Knowledge Ecology and how the different agents have interacted and co-evolved under a changing education system.

The current MOOCs are demonstrating various behaviors which cannot be understood or predicted by looking at the component of the system.  At the start of the MOOCs movement, all elite institutions refused to accept MOOCs for credits to their degree programs, and thus deny the recognition of any completion of MOOCs as equivalent to the academic studies in their institutions.  Now Georgia Tech is partnering with Udacity to offer online Master Degree Program.  Would this change the dynamic of degree offering for Higher Education Institutions?

I have shared in my post: “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.”

It seems the three major players in xMOOCs – Coursera, Udacity and edX are now constituting approximately 90+% of the MOOCs provision and the associated investments (approximation based on the Ivy League table, though this needs to be updated).  There are however new MOOCs players such as Future Learn in UK, Open to Study in AustraliaFirst MOOC for Denmark, coming on board in 2013-2014 and this would soon change the network dynamics of MOOCs.

Would the ideology of MOOCs be democratizing education?

Would the ideology of MOOCs be monetization, commoditization and privatization of Higher Education?

How would those ideologies impact on global Higher Education?

What could we learn from Complexity Science, when applied in Education?

I will be creating a few posts on Complexity Education soon.

Here are some relevant sources of information.

MOOC (300)


moocs update (1)

Would computers be replacing teachers soon?

Do you think online education would replace part or most of the face-to-face education?

If you don’t think this would happen, see this and this computers can and have successfully replaced teachers:

Cash-strapped school districts, from Florida to Washington, have discovered that minimally supervised students hunched over laptops can outperform their lectured counterparts for a fraction of the cost.

As long as schools measure performance simply by rote memorization on multiple-choice tests, no teacher can compete with instant access to the world’s information. Unless schools change, more and more teachers will find themselves replaced by computers.

Photo image: Google

online education images

Tony Bates remarks in his post and I responded here.

Educating the world, with more automation seems to be the trend that wouldn’t be turned back.  Productivity is the key to mass education, and the wheel would move on.  So, we might be better off in checking the pulse of such changes, and adapt to them, in response.  Education is a great business for every one to get into, in order to lead us to a great future.

Refer to my part 2 on 

Do we really need teachers in post-secondary education? Photo image: Google

See this AI.

mass lecture images (5)

Emergence of MOOCs – Part 3 MOOCs as SURPRISES!

What does a MOOC look like now?

MOOC* Georgetown University Provost Robert Groves blogged: “The ability of massive open online courses to deliver exactly the same experience simultaneously to thousands and thousands of students breaks the mold of traditional university education.  We can all see their potential to increase access to education and reduce the costs of education.” (Full blog post: “Our Moment in Time.”)

MOOC has now evolved into a Mega Network of Massive Open Online Courses with a conglomerate of many open online courses all forming Hubs around the BIG THREE – Coursera, Udacity and edX.

What are common among the big three?

The headlines are:

Take the World’s Best Courses, Online, For Free – Coursera

Learn. Think. Do.  Higher Education for Free – Udacity

The Future of Online Education – for anyone, anywhere, any time – edX

Common words are: Free for Coursera and Udacity, and Education for Udacity and edX.

Taken together, they all are offering education, online courses for free.   Their pedagogy are all based on instructivism (a cognitive and behavioral approach towards teaching and learning, with mastery learning).   The MOOCs are based on the best media platforms available and offered to any one in the world.  There, you would be able to get the courses run by the  best and “super” (rockstar) professors, who will be at the centre stage of teaching, delivering world class education.

What is the medium of MOOC?

“The medium is still the lecture. Thanks to Khan Academy’s free archive of snappy instructional videos, MOOC makers have gotten the memo on the benefit of brevity: 8 to 12 minutes is typical. Then – this is key – videos pause perhaps twice for a quiz to make sure you understand the material or, in computer programming, to let you write code. Feedback is electronic. Teaching assistants may monitor discussion boards. There may be homework and a final exam.”

What are the challenges of MOOCs?

“The MOOC certainly presents challenges. Can learning be scaled up this much? Grading is imperfect, especially for nontechnical subjects. Cheating is a reality. “We found groups of 20 people in a course submitting identical homework,” says David Patterson, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who teaches software engineering, in a tone of disbelief at such blatant copying; Udacity and edX now offer proctored exams.”

Here what you need to know about MOOC provides a useful summary, and there are many more, as collected in my post.

The recent evolution of MOOCs

The recent introduction of Instructure to the MOOC game is of little surprise to me. “Instructure announced today that it’s launching a new service called Canvas Network. The service is being positioned as an alternative to existing MOOC vendors or platforms (such as Coursera or EdX) to allow colleges to teach open online courses on the Canvas platform.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Is MOOC a surprise to you?

The year of MOOC has caught many by surprise.   Even the x MOOCs co-founders were caught by surprise.   

“This has caught all of us by surprise,” says David Stavens, who formed a company called Udacity with Sebastian Thrun and Mike Sokolosky after more than 150,000 signed up for Dr. Thrun’s “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” last fall, starting the revolution that has higher education gasping.

If you were to ask me: Did MOOCs catch you by surprise?  My answer is: No.

I have longed thought that MOOC would become a reality before 2008.  Since joining CCK08 in 2008, I was more than convinced that MOOC would one day be ubiquitous, like the networks and communities formed and re-formed around us, in the edge and core of the webs, spreading throughout the internet.  I had on a few occasions worked on that – the Connectivism Ning, the Facebook, the wikis, etc. that were all networks of “practice” where practitioners would all be too happy to come and go, sharing and collaborating with each others with an open NETWORK, similar in nature to THE MOOCs.

What MOOCs need might be the branding, the timing and opportunity that the prestigious institutions have, and of course the funding required to run the MOOCs, so professors could work on, and learn from.

I had discussed these trends of MOOC back in 2010 here on the future of education.  Dave Cormier, George Siemens had organized MOOCs where discourse on future of education – a course in future thinking was held in 2010.  Stephen Downes had been an active promoter of open education and personalized learning with PLE/PLN for the past decade. These had all been discussed in the last sessions of various CCKs – 08, 09, CCK11, Change11.

Here is a summary of CCK08 by Stephen Downes.  See Stephen Downes’ OLDaily for more posts on future of education.

We are heading into the future with MOOCs where “colleges of all kinds will need to re-examine exactly what value they provide to students, what it costs, and what price the market will bear.”

Is disruptive innovation of MOOCs good enough to revolutionize Higher Education?

In my post relating to disruptive technology: Clayton’s prediction of disruptive innovation could rightly provide us with the crystal  ball: that innovative disruption would likely be repeated for any businesses – including education, and HE in particular, especially in highly developed countries, or a global market.  These seem to have been demonstrated in the current MOOCs phenomena too.  Are we ready for these sorts of “disruptions” in education?  Time will tell.

Are we at the cross-road of Higher Education?

“I have once predicted that this sort of future education would soon make its turn towards mass education with personalized learning, like the MOOC movement.  However, what sort of technology would uplift the HE to another higher level?  Is disruptive technology playing as the strange attractor here?  Are the sort of investments based on disruptive technology giving more choices for the learners?  Or will education become a commodity managed under an entrepreneurial business setting?”

MOOC as the CALL CARD to revolutionize Higher Education

MOOC is now the CENTRAL ECONOMICS OF EDUCATION – DISRUPTING the Higher Education to its fullest extent.

Here efficiency and effectiveness of education has finally been drawn based on this CALL CARD – MOOC to revolutionize Higher Education.  You got to love free Higher Education!

But there is a price to pay.  MOOC and you’re out of a job: Uni business model in danger.

Are you a super professor?  Have you delivered a xMOOC?  What were your experiences in the teaching and learning with x MOOCs?

Photos Credit: Google images

What may be the biggest problem in online course assessment? Cheating and Plagiarism!

What are the issues relating to cheating in online courses?

Cheating goes high tech:

“This is the gamification of education, and students are winning,” the professor told me.

The Shadow Scholars could just be the tip of the icebergs – in cheating.  Copying and plagiarism in online courses are also a concern for educators and education authority.

How to solve these cheating and plagiarism problems?

1. Use of technology and tools –  like face recognition, or other electronic identification, as outlined in this post interview to identify the persons, and tools such as turnitin or playchecker to check on plagiarism.

I have used playchecker in checking my own writings based on plagiarism, and here is the result.

2. Course terms and conditions – checking and monitoring of students’ submission of work based on agreement to terms and conditions, and an honor code.  Coursera and Udacity provide comprehensive terms and conditions of the registration and use of course materials, and submission of work.  This may not exclude students from cheating or plagiarism but could deter any students from cheating with intention in online courses.

3. Human intervention – where professors and instructors would interview the students via virtual conferencing or by referring to third party agents (employers, college or university authority, or authorized local representative) to check on the identity of students.

4. Test and examination centres – where students are required to sit for the tests and examination under surveillance, and monitoring if there are any cheating or plagiarism.  This could be a costly exercise, though worthwhile to prevent and reduce cheating.

Prevention is better than cure.  I think the excellent terms set out in the courses such as Coursera and Udacity would help students in appreciating the importance of integrity and honesty.

Here are the Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education.


Postscript: This post on Dozens of Plagiarism Incidents highlights the seriousness of plagiarism.

Another related post.

A post on Plagiarism retrieved on 26 August 2012.

Nice post about cheating.

A post on cheating accessed on 8 Sept 2012.

#Change11 On MOOC – my reflection part 2

Interesting article on MOOC here.  Here is my response (also on FB): I was surprised that there wasn’t any mention of the pre-Stanford MOOCs, like CCK, CritLit, PLENK2010, led and developed by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier; David Wiley and Alec Couros Courses on Open Education and Tech etc. What might be the reasons for that? In the wikipedia, MOOCs have been well documented.

MOOCs are not new phenomenon, and are only new if we view Stanford, Udacity, MITx and edX as the main MOOCs recently introduced. On the assessment part, using auto-assessments have been in place for decades. Any one taking online knowledge test in driving would have experienced that first hand. Using auto-assessment to test knowledge (where knowledge is known, with correct answers) could be done based on softwares and technology. Peer assessment based on voting of best answers are sound if there are more than one “right” answers, but would be challenging if the assessment criteria are “too open”, leading to different interpretation. There are also possibility of over or under appraising one’s capability due to the inherent “issues” and “weaknesses” of the assessment system or tools. For instance, there are no ways of contextualization of the assessment tools to suit individual situations, leading to the mere checking of “factual” or “procedural” knowledge, and little on emergent or advanced knowledge which involved application at work. The use of eportfolios could be a good option, but this requires human intervention (experts, knowledgeable others, or crowd-assessment). There are also challenges on accreditation, where assessment system based on standardization would unlikely be appropriate in auditing such a complex system or network. How about the authenticity of the assessment – who are the participants really taking the test, quizzes, and assignments? Are they really who they are? Would someone be testing the system using non-human (like machine, AI)? How to ensure that there aren’t any plagiarism, cheating and “copying” of answers, assignments or portfolio evidences from others? How to quality assure the whole system of online education?