Is quality control good enough for MOOCs part 2 – Total Quality Management and MOOCs

This is Part 2 of my previous post on Is quality control good enough for moocs part-1?

Interesting post on MOOCs – Mistaking brand for quality?

Meanwhile, it is risky to assume that university brand is a surrogate for course quality.

Research universities, which have little previous experience of online teaching, dominate the MOOCs offerings and this is evident in the outdated behaviourist pedagogy most in evidence. Most MOOCs are little more than OER with test material added.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to apply Total Quality Management on MOOCs?  As shared in my previous post,  most formal institutions are adopting Total Quality Management as a framework for excellence.  Any online education initiative such as MOOC would soon be audited with the same lens if they are to be credited towards a degree in the university program in Higher Education.

On page 164 of this book on Total Quality Management, there is a checklist on effective learning and teaching.  To what extent are any MOOCs (xMOOCs) meeting those quality criteria set? Here are a collection of recent posts on quality matters with the xMOOCs.  What are the lessons learnt through these MOOCs?

Tony remarks in his post:

What is disappointing is the continual lack of recognition of the research, design and best practices that have come from earlier work on online learning. Frankly, this shows a lack of scholarship that would not be tolerated in other disciplines – and it is coming from those very institutions that place most emphasis on scholarship. They should be incorporating best online practices into MOOCs – as far as the format allows – before throwing them at learners. But that would mean acknowledging that MOOCs are an evolution of online teaching, and not something new invented by Ivy League universities.

As revealed in previous research by Kop, R., Fournier, H., Mak, S.F. J. (2011). A Pedagogy of Abundance or a Pedagogy to Support Human Beings? Participant Support on Massive Open Online Courses.

A challenge associated with the educational use of the Web, social networking, and media, based on the MOOC distributed learning model, is that the open, emergent, chaotic nature of online interaction might conflict with the rigidly organized social structure of formal education, which involves prescriptive learning, standardized goals and curricula, fixed schedules, age-based grouping, classroom-based organization, and examinations. This formal view of education is problematic for professional learning and highlights a tension between learning in everyday life facilitated by emerging technologies and the philosophical stance and the pedagogies adopted by universities. A change in the thinking, philosophy, design, and pedagogies of institution-based online courses may be necessary if the affordances of emerging technologies are embraced and adopted within formal educational institutions.

It could be a huge challenge to adopt MOOC straight into the mainstream institutional education model, especially when there are significant constraints and tensions that could exist relating to the infra-structure, pedagogy and learning support among the various stakeholders.  Total Quality Management works best for best practices, but would not be a perfect model for evaluating and assessing an emergent education platform such as MOOC, where various agents (professors and participants) would likely need to adopt an adaptive learning model in order to achieve the learning outcomes as prescribed in MOOCs.

The plagiarism and identity issue need to be resolved when massive number of students are enrolled in the MOOCs.  These are systemic issues that Higher Education Institutions would need to tackle, in order to maintain integrity in their award of credits and qualifications.

This ISO9001: 2008 has been adopted by many education institutions as benchmarks against best practice in education:

It could be interesting to see how MOOCs could match some of the criteria laid down in this guide on ISO9001.

This QualityMOOC provides some steps toward preparing a quality MOOC, and instructional design for thousands of participants.

May be, the concept of quality has to be re-defined in MOOCs, as the participants of MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular) are “consuming” the content and teaching for free.  Would the needs and expectations of these MOOC participants be the same or similar to those in a registered and paid students in the mainstream course.  Most likely not!

The lack of an integral business model in MOOCs may impose a serious strain on its passing on the audit of TQM.

Should we change the Total Quality Management to something else, when it comes to learning through MOOCs?  I have pondered on this since 2008 when CCK08 was first introduced.

I have reservations in evaluating MOOCs (especially cMOOCs)  using a TQM approach, mainly because cMOOCs are structured on an open, distributed learning network – with complex adaptive network/system.  There is a need to change the formal education system in order for a distributed learning model to emerge.  And this is likely mission impossible at the present moment for formal education institutions.

Does it explain why Sebastian Thrun has to create the Udacity to experiment with the new xMOOCs?

Photo credit: Google Image


I would explore the quality aspect in MOOCs in Part 3.