MOOC as the silver bullet

I would like to relate to Alex Kuskis’ comments provided here where he points to:

  1. The unaffordability of the American campus model, based on tuition price increases year after year, with students incurring immense debts, leading to a student loans crisis and financial bubble that will sooner or later burst, just as the housing bubble did. See “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College”, ; “Universities on the Brink”, ; “College Bubble Set to Burst in 2011”, .
  2. Questioning whether learning happens at all in traditional university education, especially undergrad education. See “Does College Make You Smarter”, .
  3. The traditional university’s crisis of purpose, . 
  4. The university: still dead – Andrew Delbanco’s insightful new book on the history and future of the American college exposes an institution that has no idea what it should be, by Angus Kennedy, .
  5. The fading legitimacy of liberal arts colleges, .
  6. The widespread perception that universities require “fixing”,
  7. The fact that universities are ripe for disruption: .
  8. The ineffectiveness of lectures, still the dominant teaching method in universities: “The College Lecture, Long Derided, May Be Fading”, .

Are MOOCs the silver bullets for education?  Not yet.

There are some positive results here with Udacity, though the experiment has again revealed that MOOCs could be helpful for certain students and learners whilst may not be a panacea for those who need individual learning or support, including mentoring, coaching or tutoring.  Such pedagogy has proven to be effective in traineeship and apprenticeship programs.

However, in an online environment and platform such as MOOCs, one on one mentoring with professors or personal tutors (teaching assistants) could be prohibitively costly and thus not possible.  An alternative is to arrange volunteer or paid tutors and mentors in such MOOCs who could provide the coaching required for novice learners, as I have shared here and here.   There are implications with such approaches, as additional mentoring and coaching may incur fees, and the need of an infrastructure with systems of policy, procedures and protocols as normally present in an institutional framework to assure quality support learning services.

There is also a need to balance between self-organizing nature of networked learning with a focus of autonomous learning embedded with the instructivist mastery learning approach in such MOOCs to ensure optimum learning outcomes.  Many novice learners may overly rely on the “teach, drill and test” sort of mastery learning.  Such instrumental learning is practised in senior high school or entry level college, in preparation of their entrance examination to university.  Though there are merits with mastery learning for prescriptive knowledge and learning on defined curriculum, the mechanistic and instrumental learning associated with the consumption of knowledge would limit their growth and development in critical thinking and metacognitive skills, sensemaking and way finding.

That is where MOOCs providers need to re-vamp their programs with technology as enabler, so as to cater for their learners’ needs. These would further foster new and emerging pedagogy in education, not just a reinforcement of what they are currently offering to their students.

In summary, continuous improvement and innovation in practice in an ever changing world of MOOCs and education.


A white paper on MOOC

Nice paper on MOOC:

As the text is copyrighted,  I would refer part of it here:

1. What new pedagogies and organisational mechanisms might be required if MOOC are to deliver a high quality learning experience?

xMOOCs have been criticised for adopting a knowledge transmission model; in essence, they are considered to be technology-enriched traditional teacher-centred instruction (Larry, 2012).

By contrast, cMOOCs provide great opportunities for non-traditional forms of teaching approaches and learner-centred pedagogy where students learn from one another.  Online communities ‘crowd-source’ answers to problems, creating networks that distribute learning in ways that seldom occur in traditional classrooms in universities.

Here I have elaborated on cMOOCs:

The c MOOCs

The second type of MOOC are those which focus principally on the learners’ preferences and thus be based on learner-centred model of teaching and learning.  Here the professors would negotiate the teaching with learners with networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education and learning process, with distributed learning and technology as an enabler, with a connectivist approach towards learning and crowd sourcing as a means to aggregate the distributed learning.  This could be the current model of c MOOC, based on emergent learning.

The new pedagogies and organisational mechanisms that might be required include a hybrid model of MOOCs where content and process are mixed and matched to suit different cohorts of educators, professors and learners.

My observation and comments about the paper:

1. It is great to have a summary on MOOCs, providing an overall view about the current trend of MOOCs and their implications on Higher Education.  This is surely welcomed by many MOOC providers, Higher Education Institutions and their decision makers and administrators.

2. The paper used a number of sources as references, including wikipedia, blog posts and media posts, rather than the formal peer-reviewed papers.  This seems a radical approach towards referencing, in white paper.  What criteria should be used in the selection of such sources as references in white and research papers?  It could be interesting to learn from the authors how decisions are made on this matter.

3. This paper is unique in that most of the findings are drawn from blog posts and discussion papers, which is pretty useful.  I think more research findings with empirical data (big data and learning analytics) would help in revealing the SWOTS of MOOCs.

The paper is a must read for any policy makers, administrators, professors and educators who are interested in the design and development of online/distance education and MOOCs.

Application of Game Theory in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs

This Lifelong education on Steroids provides an excellent and insightful overview about MOOCs.  What I would add is that MOOCs could be one the game changers in Higher Education, not just online education.  Why?  Higher Education has been a game in business, where each of the game players are playing a fair, though competitive game in a global arena for decades.  

The strategic alliance and partnership is one of the macro approaches in game playing where institutions are working with various other education providers or services in order to enhance the overall education and learning experiences of the learners, or consumers and customers.

How would Game Theory help in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs?

There are two main approaches that we could consider – a macro and a micro approach.

Macro approach:

First, to design MOOCs based on Game Theory, on a macro scale. What this involves is to compare and contrast the various design of x and c MOOCs, based on a set of principles where networked learning and mastery learning is leveraged, especially when an institutional education model is based.  This could be demonstrated and applied by taking into consideration the payoff and expected return with each probability (i.e. un-bundling of each of the present services of typical MOOCs services as described here) and re-bundling them with values and benefits for each cohort of learners and educators.

Second, to deliver MOOCs based on Game Theory principles which include those elaborated in this Understanding the MOOC Trend.

Third, to assess MOOCs based on a combination of automation and human intervention, where learning analytics and big data are used to provide feedback to both educators and learners on a continuous basis.  This paper on assessment on MOOCs provides an insightful approach to incorporate

Micro approach

This involves strategically designing MOOCs based more on the games with various multimedia and interactive game story, where assessment and learning are built in to engage both professors and learners to co-explore and learn through the education process.  Games could also be used for assessing learners in a personal and adaptive way, though this would involve a total different design from the instructivist approach.  This includes peer-teaching and learning as proposed by Eric Mazur and other educators.  Indeed peer teaching and learning is one of the pedagogy adopted in a connectivist approaches towards learning.

It should be noted that the majority of peer-tutoring programs for students are intended to complement, not substitute for, regular classroom instruction. Tutoring should never be a substitute for professional teaching. An ideal learning atmosphere is as a rich blend of peer and adult instructional strategies.

Cited From:

In summary, game theory could be used in the design, delivery and assessment in MOOCs, with an overall improvement in the learning and education experiences of learners.

Telling experts from novices and spammers

Here is an interesting paper on Telling experts from novices and spammers.

See this making of an expert:

It takes time to become an expert. Even the most gifted performers need a minimum of ten years of intense training before they win international competitions.

May be MOOCs are still too new to professors and experts.  So, to become an expert in MOOCs, one needs to practice, practice and practice. Right?

What would you get out of MOOCs?

Do you want to teach in a MOOC? Why teach a MOOC?

For me, teaching a MOOC is an extension of what you teach in an online course, only that you would reach a massive audience. There is more, for learning, than teaching when MOOCs are structured with different pedagogical approaches, as they evolved.  MOOCs are not just about teaching though as they are more related to learning and educational experience that covers the social, teaching and cognitive presence.

MOOC won’t “correct” those teaching with “poor pedagogy”, but surely MOOC provides different avenues for teachers to design online courses with an experimental approach.

The best way to learn from MOOCs may be “mistakes”, not success, as this is captured here:

There is still debate about whether MOOCs can replicate the educational experience of a traditional classroom, but in general the large-scale online courses have managed to avoid being panned outright. Udacity, a competing MOOC provider, was forced to cancel a mathematics course last summer due to concerns over quality—but the incident appears not to have significantly damaged that company’s brand.

Isn’t it true that most of us made mistakes when doing experiments.  This is especially the case when performing social experiments on the web, or networks, where a scientific approach could be in “conflict” with the humanistic approach, facing lots of resistances and challenges, from each side of the schools – “the traditional school”, “the progressive school”, “the venture capitalist school”, “the innovative and disruptive school”.

There are lots of interesting learning we could gain from the MOOC experience, as an observer, researcher, participant, or professor. Some of these experience of MOOC have challenge our views about online education, learning and the role and mission of higher education institutions.

How would people view MOOCs?  Would MOOCs kill research university?

So what happens if undergraduate teaching is something that is magicked away through the technological change of MOOCs? Clearly that river of cash that supports the professoriate disappears. As does the need for quite so many professors of course. Which will in turn lead to there being very many fewer people conducting research as there just won’t be as many people in universities in the future.

When most of the resources are directed towards MOOCs, who would fund and conduct researches in the universities?  May be that is the downside of MOOCs on research universities, as the pendulum is now swinging from research to teaching using MOOCs.

We are further witnessing a crossroad where conservative school of teaching (where lecture reigns best) is challenged by innovative, disruptive, though instructivist school of teaching (where mini-chunked base video lecture coupled with mastery learning reigns supreme).

As we unbundled teaching, MOOCs have become a platform where a complex mix of activities are offered both by MOOC providers, teachers and “consumed” by the participants and students.  These have been elaborated in this Understanding the MOOC Trend.

What would we get out of this MOOC trend?  Why MOOCs?  That is the very basic question for every institution to consider.  To what extent would their MOOCs be differentiated from the other “mainstream MOOCs”?  Are they superior MOOCs?  Why would you teach in MOOCs?  Should teachers curate rather than teach and compete with the super professors of MOOCs?

Why not send our students to the MOOCs so they could learn there, whilst we as educators could enjoy the smart teaching and learning with our students with less efforts.  See George’s video on this.

Am I doing this now?  I have been thinking about this way of teaching for the past few years.

I have used many of the resources available on the Web for free and found great achievements by my students.  So, teaching could be done more effectively by being a curator, facilitator and supporter, rather than a pure “lecturer”.

Do you see it that way?

Is big data the next wave?

Big data and learning analytics would transform education, much more than MOOCs.

To what extent is big data  (big-data-not-moocs-will-revolutionize-education) the solution to higher education?

Big data in the online learning space will give institutions the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for individual students. By designing a curriculum that collects data at every step of the student learning process, universities can address student needs with customized modules, assignments, feedback and learning trees in the curriculum that will promote better and richer learning.

In this post on learning analytics:

They found that people take classes or stop for different reasons, and therefore referring globally to “dropouts” makes no sense in the online context. They identified four groups of participants: those who completed most assignments, those who audited, those who gradually disengaged and those who sporadically sampled. (Most students who sign up never actually show up, making their inclusion in the data problematic.) The point of all this is not simply to record who is doing what but to “provide educators, instructional designers and platform developers with insights for designing effective and potentially adaptive learning environments that best meet the needs of MOOC participants,” the researchers wrote.

For example, in all three computer science courses they analyzed, they found a high correlation between “completing learners” and participation on forum pages, suggesting a positive feedback loop: The more students interacted with others on the forum page, the better they learned. This led the researchers to suggest that designers should consider building other community-oriented features, including regularly scheduled videos and discussions, to promote social behavior.

These findings were revealed in our earlier researches in MOOCs and so these latest researches were reinforcing what most of the researches have found, in particular the engagement and interactivity of learners as a critical success factor in MOOCs.

As I have shared in my previous posts, there are assumptions about design of curriculum, where students’ motivation and learning could be accurately traced, assessed and evaluated with the clicks of videos, engagement with discussion boards, and answering those “multiple choice questions” or assessment tasks.   To some extent, big data could provide some clues as to students’ skills and interests, and their degree of connections with others, resources and networks, the connectivity as one could define.  There are questions that still need to be addressed though, as each individual has his or her own learning style and motivation, which could not be predicted simply by tracing using the big data, especially when they are merely visitors to the sites, and have weak links to others in the networks or social media.

Trying to track down students’ attendance may be one way to gauge their engagement, but then again this requires enormous amount of follow up work and intervention from the professors or institutions in order to develop those customized units, assignments, and feedback.

Will the winner take all in MOOCs?

In this post on MOOCs, Ms Koller says that the winner takes all.

Mr Koller said that, although there were currently many competitors in the MOOC market, she thought it would tend toward being winner take all.

“Right now, we’re four times larger than anybody else in terms of students, 10 times larger than anybody else in terms of courses,” she said.

“So I think we are well positioned to be that platform that will enable everyone to learn.”

I think we are now witnessing a game of competition among MOOC players, where I once commented that

As I have shared, we are now in the Lord of the Ring game, where those who win takes all. Education is now a game, not as much as the once enlightenment or passion sort of education vision, but a pragmatic sort of education of whether one could get a job after taking a course of study, or getting famous through “educating” others in MOOCs. It is the media that would likely determine who is the winner, not the test anymore, as no one could objectively test or examine what is really “competent” or “capable” under those framework, mainly because they are producer driven, not user driven.

Though I am a strong supporter of MOOCs throughout the years, I still have many questions relating to the sustainability when MOOCs are totally free.  I am for free open education, and I have thought about the implication of freebies with education.  This could be a pathway with no return though we keep “promising” education could be delivered free to a global audience.

What I found challenging is education has turned into edutainment on one hand, by trying to keep education interesting and engaging (that is quick fix and learn of certain vocational skills, or mere basic concepts), whilst education has been turned into a commodity for selling the brand, with a teach, tell and assess mentality, without thoroughly thinking about what the learners have actually learnt and thought about their learning, and their relevance to their work or lives.  To what extent have we really prepared our learners to learn and confront the challenges that they are facing in this 21st century?

Yes, we have the best education in the world teaching us.  The question is: Have we got the best learning yet?

I won’t repeat what I said here, and so you could refer to my previous posts relating to the differences between x and c MOOCs.

I hope Coursera would be equally successful in winning in this game of MOOCs, though edX and Udacity would surely like to share that big win in these few years.

Let’s see if there are other cMOOCs contenders who would challenge the winners of this game of MOOCs.

Wasn’t the cMOOCs the first winner after all?   I reckon they were, at least in creating the big name for others to follow suit.

If you build it, they will come!

MOOCs is a bad idea, just like books.  It turns out that this bad idea becomes one of the very first ideas to transform higher education, as witnessed in these few years.

If you build it, they will come, that is where internet was built, the itune was built, and now the MOOCs.

People will come, when there are super professors, elite institutions, and venture capital investors building up the MOOCs.  People are yearning for knowledge, higher education, even though if it is costing them something, just that something they could afford.

People will watch the best professors of the elite institutions presenting their lectures, so far if they could access those videos for free, from any where in the world.   They would be especially thankful, if they are from those developing or under-developing countries, who don’t even have access to Higher Education, or that they are too costly for them.

It is a great idea, coming from the freebies, as I have shared in my past post.  Believe in MOOCs, that would be sustainable, if educators and venture capitalists, institutions are going to build it.  Surely, there would be millions or billions of people coming, who are looking for free Higher Education.

MOOC is a great idea, not a bad one.  Huh!  It motivates people to get the best education in the world!

If you build MOOC, people will come.  Just a matter of time, and how much you could invest into it.

The emergence of x and c MOOCs and pedagogy

Ray in this post on MOOCs are maturing says:

What will this adolescent, MOOC, become when it grows up?  Some key traits are apparent even at this early point in the development of this movement.  MOOCs, by definition, reach massive audiences.  Where there are massive audiences, there are efficiencies that may be had, and there is money to be made through advertising.  MOOCs are pioneering new modes of assessment that may be applicable across all of education.

Adaptive learning has been given a boost by open online initiatives.  The hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars attracted by the potential of MOOCs are a significant incentive to make some version of massive open online learning work.  If there is one thing that MOOCs have shown us, it is that there is a huge international appetite for learning.

Based on my observation and research, I think there are vast differences in terms of needs and experiences in MOOCs (especially the c and x MOOCs) for various types and cohorts of learners – high school students, college and university undergraduate students, graduate students, graduates and working learners, scholars, researchers, professors etc.

It is hard to pin down a particular pedagogy for each type or cohort of learners, but generally, those undergraduate students tend to need more guidance than graduate students and graduates, and that life-long learners (those who have work experience and degrees, or those who are veterans in MOOCs – cMOOCs etc.) tend to prefer more autonomous and independent or self-directed and organised learning. These sort of findings are revealed in various forms in “our past researches” though we need more concrete statistics and learning analytics to verify those claims.

There are many assumptions behind the learning for xMOOCs which seem to be revealed in decades of research – that these learners tend to be more entrusted in learning with their elite institutions and professors, and so an instructivist approach with mastery learning matches and aligns with their learning style. Besides, working and learning with professors would also lead to a closer and positive relationship between learners and institutions, which is highly desirable when these graduates need recommendation from the professors when applying for work (or through the xMOOCs). You would easily find lots of professionals working with Coursera and Udacity now are those “graduates” from those xMOOCs or those who graduated from the elite institutions. Surely, the pedagogy they would prefer is the instructivist approach and mastery learning, when they are asked about their preferred learning/teaching methodology, as that is what they are employed for.

To what extent would learners learn with other pedagogy, like a networked learning approach or Connectivism? My (our) research did indicate that these would likely be adopted by those who are well experienced and motivated learners, with mature and advanced learning skills. These could include graduates and some experienced life long learners, some professors who would like to adopt emerging technology and new and innovative pedagogical approach, and those who are pioneers in COPs, though many of these educators and professionals would prefer to use “social constructivist” or “cognitivist” approaches in describing their preferred pedagogy, rather than Connectivism. John

Here is my post relating to c and x MOOCs:

What would emerge out of the MOOCs?

I suppose there are 3 types of MOOCs that are emerging in Higher Education:

The x MOOCs

Those MOOCs which could leverage technologies, automate the whole educational process of teaching, assessment and certification, and those which are operating under a sustainable business model – with a continuous stream of revenues and profits to support the design and running of the MOOC.  The focus would likely still be on the business, with technology enhanced learning as the way to educate and learn, supported by the super professors, with videos-based teaching, and flipped classroom.   This seems to fall in line with the current x MOOCs where huge enrollments –  million with Coursera, and hundreds of thousands with Udacity and edX.

The c MOOCs

The second type of MOOC are those which focus principally on the learners’ preferences and thus be based on learner-centred model of teaching and learning.  Here the professors would negotiate the teaching with learners with networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education and learning process, with distributed learning and technology as an enabler, with a connectivist approach towards learning and crowd sourcing as a means to aggregate the distributed learning.  This could be the current model of c MOOC, based on emergent learning.

The x and c MOOCs

The third type of MOOCs are those which would re-brand themselves, attract and sustain more educators and learners to be on board of the bandwagon of MOOCs, where an educational model is blended into the business model.  Here the super professors and educators would re-reconfigure the teaching to “teach the world”, and support learners in grouped or networked based learning.  The focus would likely be on the education process, with technology and social media/networks as an enabler.  This could be a hybrid structure of x MOOC and c MOOC.

Finally, what would be the model that emerge?

Here the models are represented by:

What would be the future of MOOCs?

As discussed, the three sorts of MOOCs would serve different types of learners differently based on what the institutions would offer and what the learners might need and expect.

There are no clear crystal balls in accurately predicting what would emerge out of these winners, though it is for sure that the ultimate model of Higher Education would likely go with xMOOCs within the coming decade, as the demand for qualifications, formal teacher-based education is still the norm.

There is a possibility of having institutions adopting a hybrid approach in blending educational model with a strong business model in order to sustain in the long run.  This means that more emerging technologies would be adopted to replace the current teacher-based model of teaching, where the core business of education is more widely adopted not only in higher education, but also being adopted in the wider community and networks.  Here the c and x MOOCs would likely be the ones who could embrace both entrepreneurial and educational models in their MOOCs, in the delivery of pragmatic results and tangible outcomes.  This may however, mean that they could have the most disruptive effect on the current Higher Education, as they might transform the nature of business of education.

There are however, certain institutions who would embrace the learners as center of education model, which in fact mimic the adoption of internet and web-based learning, with a Constructivist and Connectivist approaches towards education, where teachers, social and personal learning networks, artifacts and internet based open-resources and open learning are used in the MOOCs’ platforms, as a basis to truly transform both the institutions, and the nature of education and learning.  These require a systemic change in the way learning is considered, that is in keeping pace with the rapid changes in society and needs of learners, with an emergence model of education.

MOOCs experience

Here is a “typical xMOOC experience“. No surprise, that is exactly what I have also shared relating to xMOOC experience.

The pedagogy of xMOOCs all falls into the same pattern as revealed through this paper:

“the fact that the format concentrates on short form videos, automated or peer/self–assessment, forums and ultimately open content from a representation of the world’s leading higher educational institutions.”

I kept wonder why xMOOCs are structured in such a way.

x MOOCs are based on the flipping the classroom model:

xMOOC is based on the teaching model where the teacher teaches, and the students learn and consume the knowledge from the course, like watching the videos, or reading a book, an artifact, and be assessed on what has been taught or covered in the videos.  The main differences between off-line and online approaches seem to lie with the machine grading and feedback, in the responses to computer generated quizzes or test, and that the students would respond and repeat the learning until they have achieved content mastery.   That is STILL based on the instructivist approach – which is based on behavioral/cognitivist learning theory, where the learners master the content, probably with the transfer of knowledge from one person or a number of persons (the professor(s)) or the machines (robot or virtual teacher), or information source to that of the learner.

It’s not just the learners’ experience that makes MOOCs special in Higher Education, it is the professors’ experiences and responses that shock the world – and here it is where Jonathan:

predicts that the teaching profession could be divided in the future between a small number of star professors earning hefty MOOC royalties and an army of lower-paid teaching assistants without job security who will do the grunt work.

“From an administrative point of view, the beauty of MOOCs is that they provide an easy opportunity to drastically cut labour costs by firing existing faculty members or simply hiring poorly trained ones – whom they won’t have to pay well – to help administer the class,” Prof. Rees wrote in a recent Slate article. “Why should I hire a new PhD when I can get the best professors in the world piped into my university’s classrooms?”

Does it sound quite a pessimistic outlook into the future of Higher Education, especially for the faculties and professors?

I don’t know what the implications are, when many teachers and professors may need to re-adjust or change the way of “teaching” or engaging through the MOOC partnership, in order to “embrace” MOOCs, and to survive or thrive through those challenges that they are facing.

For me, I have taken quite a number of cMOOCs and tasted a few xMOOCs, so I could only empathize those who feel shocked with the emergence with xMOOCs, as both an opportunity and threat to education and learning.

It’s time for me to slow down and reflect further on these MOOCs experience.

How about you?  Your experience with xMOOCs.

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?

What are the differences between cMOOCs and xMOOCs?

Are there significant differences between cMOOCs and xMOOCs?

The MOOC (more accurately should be xMOOCs) is the i-Tune of Academe captures the positivist views with xMOOCs, with promising future.  I still see MOOCs as freebies (with x MOOCs offering more features than cMOOCs including certificates and brokering services). To what extent are these “sustainable”, at least for the coming few years?  

I have shared my views on the differences between c and x MOOCs here, “more is less and less is more with MOOCs” part 1, and part 2 and part 3.

In essence:

1. xMOOCs are branded based on institutions and professors, cMOOCs are branded based on the co-evolvement and peer teaching and learning of both professors and learners.

2. xMOOCs are instructivist based, whilst cMOOCs are learner and learning based.

3. xMOOCs are based on an alternative business model, whilst cMOOCs are based on learner-centered connectivist model.

4. xMOOCs are based on semi-opened teaching resources, whilst cMOOCs are based on Open Educational resources (OER).

5. xMOOCs are based on a marketing approach, whilst cMOOCs are based on learner “word” of mouth and experiential and experimental “moment of truth” approach.

What else have you found?

On Study Skills and Examination

Another useful video by Dr Stephen Chew on study skills and examination.

Examinations could be highly effectively in mass assessing students of Higher Education in an objective way.  Most of us (as educators) have gone through the examination processes in Universities and Colleges.  Indeed examinations could be critical in determining the grades of students in a College or University degree, and such practice might not change in the foreseeable future.

Examinations are still useful for undergraduate and graduate studies up to PhDs, or even professional association admission or accreditation.  So it is important to learn those examination skills, in order to achieve good results and meet the goals.

Examinations are, however summative assessment tool and there are little that the learners could do to change the results of the examination, unless there are feedback to the learners on where they are fallen short of, in terms of their “mistakes” or “wrong answers” so they could correct.  

Whilst examinations are still important tool in assessing students in Higher Education, there is now a trend towards using various combination of formative and summative assessments – authentic or real life assessment tasks, problem based assignments, workplace projects, and workplace based assessment as a more holistic educational tool in the assessment process, apart from the formal examinations.

In my post here, I share the following:

If assessment is so important in formal education, why do people still prefer to adopt the instrumental teaching based principally on mass lecture, tests and examination rather than assessment as an effective pedagogy?  Take a test or examination, and if you could pass it, you are qualified for a pass of the unit.  Isn’t it simple?

Some of us might have watched this video.

So, a lot of students would ask a basic question: Are the lecture materials delivered by the teacher during the lesson to be tested in the tests and  examinations? If not, could we focus just on what is to be tested or examined, and leave the rest to be “learnt” outside the classroom?  This is exactly the type of questions most students are asking in each semester, in a traditional lecture type of education and learning. Is that what the educators are most concerned too?  Teaching the content of examination or test to the students, so students could achieve high marks in the assessments. So, why not teaching to the test?

A test and or examination is a typical assessment tool used in education for decades. That’s where students could demonstrate their competency, and that is how assessment is conducted in most schools.  And if students are learning in online distance education, then they would be expected to submit the standard assignments (say completing a 2,000 words essay or answering a series of questions as required in the problem or project set), attend the examination, and if they pass in both assessment, congratulations!

Doing assessment requires more than the mere completion of the written assignments.  An excellent example of assignments as shown here requires the preparation and collection of evidences, and through an exploration and research process in the assessment, the learners would be able to demonstrate the competency required.  Also learners could identify their own learning needs and gaps in the learning process, when working through the assignments.  With the feedback from peers and or facilitators, the learner could also identify what would need to do to improve his or her learning.  These will all involve sensemaking (giving meaning to experience) and metacognition (cognition about cognition or knowing about knowing).

How to get the most out of study?

Useful videos presented by Dr Stephen Chew.

Here are part 3 and 4:

Here is my reflection on How to achieve results through study and learning.

My reflection on: How to achieve results through Study and Learning?

I would like to reflect on my experience in achieving results in this paper.

I have always admired people who are highly intelligent and wise.  These people could think analytically, critically, recall matters easily.  They are always prepared to accept challenges and changes.

I have always wished that I could master the best way to achieve, whether it is an academic result or a career goal.  With trial and error, I have acquired some skills and techniques in achieving results, and I would like to share them with you.


First, what would you like to achieve? Once you have written down your wishes, they could become the goals that you would like to achieve.  If you have a number of wishes or goals, would you consider prioritizing them in order?  Consider using some subjective or objective criteria in the prioritization process, depending on what you think are most appropriate.  This may be difficult, but try to make it as simple as possible at the start.  That is, you just list these goals in order of its importance and urgency.  The most urgent and important goals should be considered first.

An example may be as follows:

Goal 1

To achieve a high distinction (>85 marks) in three academic subjects: Psychology, Engineering Mathematics, and Science.

Goal 2

To reduce weight by ten percent within 6 months (i.e. from 75 kg to 67.5 kg).

When writing down the goals, you need to state them out in specific terms. Avoid writing vague or overly ambitious goals because you may find yourself having difficulty in achieving them.  At the start, you may like to try some easy to achieve goals.  This would give you confidence and a feeling of success.  Once you have achieved the easier goals, you could try writing out more challenging goals, which could reinforce your determination to achieve and a way to improve.  You need to pay caution to the establishment of these goals, because very often we might have goals set up which are beyond our control, or that there are many environmental factors, which could affect the progress that we could hardly achieve.  In these cases, it would be wise to revise the goals whenever we feel necessary.


Once you have the wishes, or goals, you must have a way of achieving these goals.  You may achieve these goals by using strategies and methods.  The strategies laid out the approach you could adopt in achieving your goals.

Example: The goal is to achieve high distinction (above 85%) in Engineering Mathematics.


– Analyze procedures in arriving to solutions.

– Review techniques in solving problems.

– Apply techniques to different situations.

After devising the strategies, you need to consider the methods to use.  It is important to devise the most effective and efficient methods associated with the strategies. Consider the 5 Ws and 1 H, that is: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? relating to the method.

Method Example:

To complete exercises on a daily basis: (40 problems in text) within the allocated time for each exercise and to achieve an average of 95%  for the exercises.

To complete past tests within the allocated time and to achieve an average of 95% with standard deviation of 2% allowable.  This must be achieved 2 weeks before the examination.


After you have designed the way to achieve results, perhaps the most difficult part of the course of study is the will.  This means whether you have got the desire to achieve the results through the strategies and methods that you have developed.  This may also be your passion towards learning.

For every learning task or activity that you have developed, there are four main elements that you need to ensure to accomplish the task:  Concentration, Diligence, Think (critical thinking, reflection, analysis and synthesis), and Review.

Concentration – this refers to a deep concentration (or focus) on a particular task or activity that you are working on.

Example 1: If you are working on a research project, you are likely to plan, do, check and act  This involves planning your work, organizing the information, resources or artifacts that you have collected or curated. You would then analyze the details and synthesize the information or resources as necessary. After a critical review, you would then present it in accordance to the need of your target reader.  This requires a systematic approach in research writing, because you have to put it in a proper format that aligns with your readers’ needs.  You would need to focus on the main points and avoid deviating from them.  You must avoid jumping steps, as this might upset your logical thinking. So, concentration here refers to a single mind when doing a particular task.

Example 2: Suppose you are a medical practitioner and are performing a surgical operation.  You must concentrate while performing your surgery and avoid any thinking that are unrelated to the surgery.  This is critical as the life of the patient depends on how you perform!  In this way, you would concentrate to complete the operation.

If you can keep this in mind in your study, then you are placing good emphasis in concentration (with a sense of focus), and success is not far from reach.

Diligence – this is one of the most critical factors in achievement.  I won’t over emphasize the importance of diligence.  Based on my experience diligence could contribute to the achievement of results.  Though sometimes diligence might not always give you the results that you want, due to numerous reasons, one should never forget that without diligence, achievement would be based on ‘luck’, and ‘luck’ could come and go unplanned, and thus is unpredictable.

Think – this refers to critical thinking and critical reflection, and our ability to analyze and synthesize the matters you have learnt, and Metacognition – thinking how to think and learning how to learn.  Critical thinking and personal reflection through thinking aloud could be effective ways to challenging your assumptions, shifting your lens and frame of reference, and viewing things, incidences, other’s perspectives and experiences from different angles. Through analysis and synthesis, you could better understand the parts of the system and thus could more thoroughly devise better ways in achieving results.  This depends on your skills, experience and habits.

Review – this is one of the most important parts of the learning process.  By reviewing your goals, strategies, methods and way of thinking and reflection, you could better understand your strengths and weaknesses (or areas of development) so that you could develop goals which might be more appropriate and strategies and methods which are pragmatic in achieving the goals and results.

Remember that we cannot change the past, and what has happened belongs to the past.  We could “manage” the present, and develop ourselves in response to future challenges – by proper planning, execution and review of the tasks, activities or projects.

Success comes not through luck, but hard work, perseverance and failures.  Failure is the mother of success.  If you have never tried, you would never fail.  If you have never failed, you might not have tried hard enough, as success coming up too easily means that there are always more challenging goals for you to try, in order to learn.

This summarizes how I had learnt at that time – back in the 90s.  How do I learn now? See my coming posts :)

Picture: Google image

How about your story of Learning? Can’t wait to hear and learn!


If open courses close minds, what will come next to MOOCs?

Would open courses close minds?  Thanks to Nellie for posting the link. Here is my response to the post as shared on FB:

Would this depend on which types of MOOCs that we are referring to? As Nellie said: “I’ve been taking and giving my own MOOCs since 2007. Informal education seems to scare a lot of universities so much so that they started a new kind of MOOC to ensure that they stay in control. Well, let them keep trying, but informal education and open courses is the future.”

Even the communities and networks here are all open, adaptive & dynamic in opening up conversation, Socratic dialogues, open sharing & creative collaboration or cooperation. There are now seamless connections which would help in cultivating a multicultural awareness and appreciation, far beyond the “knowledge” or information transmission model of online education.

Such tapestry of knowledge networks (cMOOCs – which intertwined to some extent with other xMOOCs and university courses) could be one of the most “disruptive” innovation ever “revolution” both top down and bottom up.  I don’t know how scary it could be for any educators, but haven’t we learnt about the precedence – through the lens of the past two decades? We have all witnessed the impact of those technologies on nearly all “businesses” – like printing, news & journalism, music and entertainment, videos and DVDs, photography,  etc. where they have all been disrupted to some extent by emerging technology – internet, new ICT etc.

Education is just the next on the list, and it happens that MOOCs have since then become the next “invention” since the printing press and mass lecture etc. to again disrupt the whole business.  What is the next big surprise?  Super MOOCs over MOOCs (c & x & ??? MOOCs) where they all inter-mingle to become the next breed of MMOOC – MEGA MASSIVE OPEN ONLINE COURSE.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of MOOCs

As shared in my own posts, I am totally with many who see xMOOCs rich in content, information. Some mentioned that MOOCs are like e-textbook, others remarked that they are the best ever revolutionary or transformational “innovation” we have ever had. For me, I have participated in MOOCs since 2008, and have since then looked into c and x MOOCs and am interested in their development.

One of the beauties with MOOCs is the diversity of opinions, where people are encouraged to raise their points (or arguments), and followed by critiques (collective inquiry). It is not about challenging the authority, though sometimes that sounds antithetical to the authoritarian teaching approach.

As envisioned by most MOOCs (xMOOCs and cMOOCs), it is about democratization of Higher Education (HE) and that HE is a basic human rights. That’s what we all agreed. The challenge is: to what extent are we able to translate these in the MOOCs? What are the merits and demerits of MOOCs under an institutional framework? What are the opportunities and threats with MOOCs?

How could we further improve MOOCs? How to overcome those challenges (including both those views on the impacts of MOOCs – loss of jobs, pedagogical issues, marketization, privatization, monetization, openness, and issues like plagiarism, low completion rates, lack of opportunities of interaction and engagement with professors, trolling, assessment challenges (with auto grading & peer assessment) etc.)

What are the strengths, weaknesses (challenges and issues), opportunities, threats (SWOT) of MOOCs?

1. What are the strengths of MOOCs?

It is usual to have high praises on MOOCs, like this review of Coursera MOOC and this on what were learnt from teaching MOOC.  Major benefits of offering MOOCs include: education access, experimentation and branding extension.

2. What are those weaknesses (challenges and issue)s?

Whilst most universities are looking for best practice on online learning, what might have been missed is that the fusing of social network with the university course do pose lots of challenges and issues that most “positive evaluations on MOOCs have missed”.

Ignatia provides a summary of the findings from MOOCs, based on the full report.

Trolling and irrational behavior in MOOCs

The New Yorker magazine famously printed this caption in the early nineties to draw attention to the anonymity available on the Internet. Unfortunately, a small fraction of MOOC students take advantage of anonymity to engage in antisocial or antagonistic behavior on the forums, towards either their fellow students or the course staff. We found that these perpetrators were cowards hiding behind an anonymous throwaway email address. Up to a certain point you can instruct your community TAs to shut down destructive threads, but if the behavior persists, see if you can have the students expelled from the course. Don’t let their behavior get you down, and don’t let it sour the experience for the vast majority of students who are diligent and appreciative of your work!

It seems that such small fraction of MOOC students are hijacking the xMOOC, and behave in a rather irrational manner is the case in the MOOC.

Hasn’t this happened in cMOOC? Yes, that has happened in cMOOC.  Would this sort of behavior repeat in other MOOCs?  How have MOOC providers and professors managed those “misbehaved students” and conflicting situations?

Differences in opinions in MOOCs

In this harvardx-and-edx-online-learning-update, there were some interesting findings worthy of reflection.

Conflicts with institution mission and faculty’s autonomy and teaching

Clayton has provided an overview on some of the conflicts involved in the introduction of MOOCs into the institutions.  This was exacerbated in the two scenarios:

What should be the theory behind MOOCs?

As Clayton Christensen mentions here, most academics are looking for data for analysis before they would make recommendations for further action in the introduction of innovation.  The first cMOOCs were run based exactly on Theory (Connectivism as a new and emerging learning theory, as proposed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes).  The xMOOCs were again run based on the Theory of Instructivism where Mastery Learning and Video based learning (coupled with flipped classroom) would work

Here is how a cMOOC work.

3. What are the opportunities of MOOCs?

Opportunity 1

To shift the education and business model from the notion that a professor lectures students, to a more collaborative, interactive model where global network of practice and community of practice emerges.

Opportunity 2

To shift the pedagogy from teacher-centric design in an online education, to a cooperative and collaborative teacher-learners centric design, with an ultimate pedagogy to support human beings and a transformative pedagogy.

Opportunity 3

To innovate based on technology and media affordance – The use of different media also allows for more individualization and personalization of the learning, better suiting learners with different learning styles and needs.

Opportunity 4

To re-bundle the value propositions from non-credit to credit bearing courses, with degree granting from institutions.  This would also challenge institutions to re-think about their roles in the Higher Education ecology.

4. What are the threats of MOOCs?

Are MOOCs viewed as disruptive innovation to Higher Education?

Is MOOC a threat to quality education, especially at public universities? When MOOCs reach a critical mass, where students would accept and prefer to learn through the free open course, rather than going to pay for a course, then it is/could be.

How is quality defined? It is defined by users, students, not just by the education providers, MOOCs providers, employers alone. So, if you are to define quality education, we need to consider the different dimensions as “defined” and perceived by the “consumer”. That also makes MOOCs sound like disruptive innovation, as it could “easily” replace any courses by the super-rock-star professors who could afford to spend hundred hours in delivering their videos, and that they have established their reputation in the HE for decades. Would this be a competition between education chains, professors, etc.?

Business Model
“There is no standard business model for how MOOCs will generate revenue. Venture capital and philanthropy have funded platform providers such as Coursera and edX. Currently, institutions and MOOC platform providers each bear their own costs and split any future revenue.”

Unless a business model of MOOCs is fully developed with a demonstrated positive net gains in “profits” and revenues, MOOCs could still be viewed as an extension to the mainstream courses only.  Higher Education Institutions would still doubt about their sustainability in terms of cost effectiveness when running MOOCs and their impact on their long term business goals, and objectives and their growth with MOOCs.

What are your views on these?

Learning is about doing, application of skills and reflection, not just theory alone.

How do you find that in MOOCs?  What is the pedagogy adopted in MOOCs (xMOOCs) in particular?

I reckon that MOOCs that I have been involved in were all application based, as I have to practice and reflect on what I have learnt through the practice, using Personal Learning Environment and Personal Learning Network (PLE/PLN), Web 2.0 tools application, collective inquiry and open discourse, and social networking.

Similarly, when it comes to instruction in class (both face-to-face and online), we used to explain basic concepts and principles, together with some case application or scenarios, followed by discussion and application of knowledge concepts and skills or case application, through various activities, projects and assessment.

So, to me instruction is just one part of the learning process, provided by the professor(s) or teacher(s) to the learners.  Instruction should lead to learning, though it is often restricted when there is limited practice following the instruction, especially in a lecture format.

Learning is about doing,  application of skills learnt, and reflection, in order to keep on improving one’s learning.  It is not just about the theory presented to us by the professors or teachers.   Learning is also about organizing ones’ work in a structured way, in order to achieve the goals through certain tasks.   So, it relates to the basic principles of instruction too, where one must demonstrate to others how certain tasks are done in a systematic and orderly manner, through explicit explanation, followed by demonstration.  Learning is then achieved also through teaching oneself, and others, like peer-to-peer teaching, in order to “become” an expert learner, or teacher.

In this connection, would MOOCs be designed and run with these principles in mind?  It is not just about multiple choice, it is not just about providing a “great presentation with wonderful explanation”.  It is about engaging and involving the learners to do something –  it may relate to their thinking, reflection, practice or demonstration and modelling of the skills, through their own actions, activities, assignments and application at home, or at work.  It could be demonstrated through blogging, tweeting, wiki or Google doc creation or collaborative or creative writing, or project and problem assignments, or peer assessment.

Here is a 3 part video on Teaching teaching and learning learning:

In summary, instruction is one part of the learning process, provided by the professor or teacher to the learners. Learning should be motivating, engaging, and interactive, where the activities and assessment should also be relevant, value added to the learners.  These learning could be demonstrated through blogging, tweeting, wiki or Google doc creation or collaborative or creative writing, or project and problem assignments, or peer assessment.

I hope my fellow colleagues and students would also provide some comments and feedback as to how they have learnt.

Life Long Learning and MOOCs

See this research in the 90s Problem based and self-directed education on lifelong learning

In the MU curriculum students learn through inquiry to set clear learning objectives from the study of health care problems and from early contact with patients. Students must identify areas of deficiency in their own performance, find appropriate educational resources, critically appraise these resources, evaluate personal learning progress and apply newly acquired knowledge and skills in solving patient problems.

Yes, we all are involved in lifelong learning, and many of us would like to use problem based and self-directed education programs (offered by others) or self-directed, self-paced learning programs (i.e. we developed them for ourselves) to keep up with the knowledge advancement and technological changes.

In this social software for life-long learning:

effective and efficient learning need to be individualized – personalized and adapted to the learner’s preferences, acquired competences, and evolving knowledge, as well as to the current context. Adaptive learning systems keep the information about the user in the learner model and based on it they provide certain adaptation effects. Based on the information about the learner and the current context an appropriate educational method should be chosen, which uses suitable learning activities that reference proper learning materials.  This process is usually accompanied by selection of adequate tutors and co-learners.

This reinforces the importance of personalized and adaptive learning, in the case of life-long learning.

We could all be learning as Ana and Carol mentioned, with various options, and paces, based on our own needs, or changes required in our organisation or environment.

The questions are: How far is such lifelong learning already embedded in an organizational culture? What sort of culture would nurture one’s lifelong learning? Is MOOC a way to complement and supplement such lifelong learning? In what way does it impact on our learning?


What is the driver of these MOOCs movement?  I have shared this in previous post – MISSION, MOOCS AND MONEY.

I see MOOCs as a transition towards opening up Higher Education to different parties – and some may call it fragmentation, whilst others would call it as transformation and disruptive innovation.

The response to these changes seem to lie with FIGHT, DEVELOP or FLIGHT responses, with opponents of MOOCs fighting hard to sustain certain traditional values, and proponents claiming glory towards marketization and transformation, with democratization of Higher Education.

Jonathan says in this post on moocs could be disastrous for students and professors:

Somewhere right now, private companies, university administrators, and/or politicians are already planning an all-MOOC future for most of tomorrow’s college students. Unlike today’s MOOC participants, these future students will have to pay for access to them.

Not too many people might have predicted and thought about the impact of xMOOCs on HE institutions, faculty, professors, learners and community at large. We need debates, discourses, voices of both pro and anti MOOCs to gain a better understanding of their concerns or interests, and what may be some of the better options to overcome those challenges and “wicked problems” faced by Higher Education institutions.

There is now a trend that MOOCs would move on, when all the big 3 players (edX, Coursera, and Udacity) and many other players in other parts of the world (UK, Australia, Europe, Japan, Asia) continue to offer taster MOOCs or experimental MOOCs to test the waters, or that MOOCs providers and HE institutions to reap as much as possible (global students, money, market share etc.) using this golden opportunity.

There are set-backs such as the recent report on San Jose State University Puts MOOC on hold, also shared here.  We need more data to understand the problem and how MOOCs might solve the problem.

Many educators and professors are obviously concerned about their job security and long term prosperity.  Tamar reports in this post: “Most faculty objections arise out of concerns about how online courses impinge on the professor-student relationship — and how they may lead to the privatization of public universities, and the loss of faculty jobs.”

However, this is not just because of MOOCs, but rather systemic and pedagogical issues, where hundred years of traditional model of HE has been challenged by the professors and xMOOCs pioneers themselves. This may be once in a life-time or century opportunity for all stakeholders concerned, including MOOCs, HE institutions, professors, educators, learners, and others like businesses, venture capital firms and investors, philanthropists etc. to exercise their “power”, control over education and learning. Would those win take all?

How would our Higher Education Institutions, faculty, professors and educators and MOOC providers adapt and change in response to these huge flux in the ecology?

Here is my share where I conceive MOOC as an adaptive system and network ecology to the future of Higher Education.

MOOC or not?  That is not A SIMPLE question, BUT THE QUESTION that every Higher Education Institution must answer in the near future.  There is simply no return!

Would the traditional model of education with MASS LECTURES WITH FEW HUNDREDS OF STUDENTS SURVIVE? May be, but may be not with the revolution and tsunami of MOOCs.

What would you see might be the future of Higher Education?

What would be the relationship between MOOCs and Higher Education Institutions?

What is the relationship between MOOCs and the Higher Education Institutions?

Higher Education Institutions have always been the flagship leading Higher Education, and they would surely continue to play an important role in taking the “passengers – the customers, students” along in their sailing.

Further to the paper cited in my post “What is the mission of higher education institution and moocs?” – FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING – A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education (Barr and Tagg, 1995) where Barr and Tagg comment:

Buckminster Fuller used to say that you should never try to change the course of a great ship by applying force to the bow.  You shouldn’t even try it by applying force to the rudder. Rather you should apply force to the trim-tab. A trim-tab is a little rudder attached to the end of the rudder. A very small force will turn it left, thus moving the big rudder to the right, and the huge ship to the left. The shift to the Learning Paradigm is the trim-tab of the great ship of higher education. It is a shift that changes everything.

Professor Gilly Salmon in an article here on Quality of MOOCs uses the metaphor that Higher Education Institutions as supertankers and MOOCs as tug boats.

So learning innovators and change agents everywhere… use your little, powerful MOOC-tug boats and judge their quality by the signs of a change of direction in your supertanker. The quality lies in the tugs’ potential to constructively disrupt.

Your tugs might prevent a catastrophe. Sure, a few MOOC-tugs might get run over as your supertanker reverses, but such is the innovator’s dilemma.

– See more at:

My experience and metaphor of MOOCs

My first experience with MOOC was in Connectivism and Connective Knowledge CCK08.  Here I had shared my experience and what I have learnt through the course.  I had conceptualized taking MOOCs as virtual flight, where MOOC could be viewed as a Virtual Aircraft steered by the pilot at the time, with global passengers taking on the flight.

There are some set-backs as mentioned in this current post here on “mooc-mashup-san-jose-state-university-udacity-experiment”

However, there are real-world, long-term consequences when we “fail fast” in higher education.

For students, it is wasted time and lost money that for many represented a family sacrifice. For some it means increased debt for courses that lead to nothing. The price of failure for students can also be nonmonetary. They can easily become demoralized and think they are not college material when in fact the medium of their instruction has simply been a bad match.

See my previous post “Moocs as double edged swords” on what would happen for the success or failures with MOOCs and how they could impact on Higher Education Institutions.

Are MOOCs part of the “wicked problems” or solutions? Why? What are the reasons for introducing MOOCs? If MOOCs are to address the weaknesses of the present system – too inefficient and expensive, then who should be involved in improving and innovating the system? Are MOOCs improving the overall education productivity and quality – i.e. in the provision of more efficient and cheaper education? Will MOOCs, offered for free cheapen the brand of the world’s most prestigious universities?   If we think MOOCs are cheap, should we consider the actual cost per MOOC?

Despite all the concerns by media, educators and professors, it seems MOOCs are here to stay, and it has already ignited the interests of administrators, professors, educators and Higher Education Institutions to consider the MOOCs and alternative models in online education, in order to tackle and tame the “wicked problems”, and re-direct its efforts to combat those “disruptive innovation” through its own “disruptive innovation”.

As I have already landed on the Wonderland (post MOOCs), I would move on to explore what’s in the land, and how different ships and supertankers (Higher Education Institutions) and tug boats (xMOOCs) would lead the way to the wonderland.

Photo: from Google.

images on education

What is the mission of Higher Education Institution and MOOCs?

“Can we assume that our education system (including most MOOCs) is primarily built on a behavioral/instructivist model of education? Teachers are expected to motivate students, keep them interested in class & in school, and ensure that they perform to the standards required, through TEACHING.”

Thanks to Doug Holton for the reference:  FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING – A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education (Barr and Tagg, 1995) where Barr and Tagg say:

To say that the purpose of colleges is to provide instruction is like saying that General Motors’ business is to operate assembly lines or that the purpose of medical care is to fill hospital beds. We now see that our mission is not instruction but rather that of producing learning with every student by whatever means work best.

Hasn’t there been any changes from Teaching to Learning? What pedagogy and education paradigm are being adopted by institutions and MOOC? Most of us as educators know “how to teach” through teacher training. How about the production of learning that our institutions should aim for as a mission? Without learners taking responsibility, learning in action (likely through motivation), what teachers could best do is to “transmit knowledge and information” from their heads to the students’ head. How to ensure such knowledge is always kept up to date, if such knowledge is transmitted in our education system?

How do these relate to the mission of MOOCs?

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.

Measurement of effectiveness of cMOOCs

Here is my response to Christina’s post on difficulties researching cmoocs.

How to measure the effectiveness of a cMOOC?

There are 4 semantic conditions of networks that Stephen Downes has proposed. As Stephen has commented, those properties – openness, diversity, autonomy and connectedness & interactivity is not perfect in cMOOCs. Besides Connectivism as applied in cMOOCs could likely best be based on an informal learning, rather than a traditional institutional model.

I have reiterated that the constraints typically imposed with an institutional model would be huge challenge for administrators and educators to adapt, as is witnessed even in xMOOCs, where a totally new approach (such as flipping the class or flipped learning) as perceived by professors would be at odds with the mass lecture approach typical in mass-education, with a broadcasting model. How to overcome those challenges, and ensure learning is more effective, when cMOOCs are embedded in an institutional model?

Here is my response  that I perceive as a way to measure the effectiveness of cMOOCs – in its

1. awareness of Networked Learning and Connectivism as an “informal learning paradigm”,

2. an adoption and leveraging of the 4 properties- openness, diversity, autonomy and connectedness & interactivity when networking,

3. an achievement of personal goals with immersion in the network and community (and community of practice) on personal basis,

4. adoption of Personal Learning Environment and Network PLE/PLN in pursuit of life-long learning, and

5. a shift of frame of reference and paradigm from knowledge transmission to knowledge sharing and creation model under a knowledge ecology.

John Mak

What sort of education do you envision for our coming generation?

I have been wondering about the sort of education that would truly transform the world of education and learning of the future.

Here in this post referred by Stephen Downes,  Neil Butcher says:

we are primarily harnessing the innovation of OER predominantly to reproduce content-heavy, top-down models of education that were developed hundreds of years ago to meet the needs of societies in the aftermath of the industrial revolution, models in which the student is still primarily a passive ‘consumer’ of educational content whose main task is to complete standardised assessment tasks in order to receive accreditation.

Thus, the urgent imperative – and the real transformative potential of OER and MOOCs – is to evolve new systems of education that can help our societies, and especially our youth, to navigate their way through a world in which the disruption wreaked by information and communication technologies requires a completely new approach to knowledge, skills and competence.

So, what sort of education model of knowledge and learning should we be envisioning?

Stephen says: “This is what I would like to see with our connectivist MOOCs but it takes time and has to be built from the ground up.”  Couldn’t agree more.

What is most significant is a shift from a transmission of knowledge to an active participative and engaging model of knowledge sharing, development and creation, in between learners, learners and knowledgeable others, teacher(s), scholars and experts in the field, so teachers, learners and the resources and networks are interconnected.  This would then provide a real break-through in education, in particular in Higher Education, where learners’ potential are fully developed together with their co-learners and teachers.

This is elaborated in this paper referred to by Keith Hamon:

Theory R assumes not that students’ heads are empty but that they are full. The primary instructional challenge, then, is not to transfer new knowledge but to help students reorganize existing knowledge to make it more useful, consistent, or true and to supplement it with insights and skills that will help explain more fully what they already know.… Students in Theory R classrooms must be active processors of information. Theory T emphasizes recall; Theory R requires students to engage in every known thought process. … Theory R requires students to make connections, to perceive relationships, and to synthesize ideas. It sends students searching the far corners of their minds without regard for the artificial, arbitrary boundaries imposed by academic disciplines.

See more at:

I have shared some of the fundamental shifts in the envisioning and pedagogy in future education model here:

To me, MOOCs (x MOOCs) are still bounded by the constraints of what the students need to know, and so they are expected to respond to the questions posted by the teachers, as that is part of the curriculum of the course.  As pointed out by Williams, et al 2012: ”The curriculum has become more instrumental, predictive, standardized, and micro-managed in the belief that this supports employability as well as the management of educational processes, resources, and value. Meanwhile, people have embraced interactive, participatory, collaborative, and innovative networks for living and learning.”

The real revolution that we might anticipate in education would be a paradigm shift where education is about encouraging and supporting learners to develop themselves into creative, autonomous, independent and critical learners who could initiate their own questions, and to explore and implement their own solutions to their questions, in study, and life.

This would then truly transform education, based on an inverted pyramid of education structure, where learners are situated at the pinnacle of their learning.  This is premised on that “learners who find the answers for themselves, retain it better than if they’re told the answer.” as reinforced by Sugata.

Indeed, this is also underpinned in the wisdom that learners would learn better when they are active in their learning journey, based on authentic learning.

Being knowledgeable is about knowing the stuff.   Knowledge able is being able to find, sort, analyse, criticize and able to create and share new information and knowledge. (Michael Wesch)

Future education and learning is no longer restricted to the “learning of facts and knowledge out there in the books, artifacts, information networks, and internet”.  Any one who could access the internet, webs and social networks, Google and wikipedia etc. could easily get the answers and solutions to their basic questions.  Learning is more about knowing what questions are important to the learners, and searching for responses to those questions in the quest of knowledge, and the creation of new knowledge and wisdom in a world of change.  It is the critical lenses that learners wear that would allow them to perceive the world differently, and to change, adapt and transform where necessary in their pursuit of knowledge and upgrade of skills and abilities.

I have also envisioned our future education here.

Social media and young people

Here is an interesting research paper on social media and young people by Liz Dean.  Liz has provided a comprehensive analysis of the findings.

She concludes that “young adult primary motivation for using social media is communication, business and information. This data is valuable to plan for the future use of social media, especially the education of those still learning to use social media.”

The sample size might be too small,  with 20 people studied in this project.  However, her project reveals some of the primary motivation for using social media and how they are used by young people.

It could be interesting to see how people of different ages (young people, adults and old aged people) are using social media in their formal and informal learning, with large sample size of different populations, and those from different cultures.   This could provide a deeper insight into how social media could be used for education and learning.

I would suggest my students to explore how they could make better use of social media and Web 2.0 tools in their formal studies and informal learning.

See also my blog post on Is blogging on the decline in 2013?

Teaching and Learning in MOOCs

What sort of teaching and learning experience is most valuable in MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular)?

In this video Peter Norvig reflects on his experience whilst teaching his AI MOOC.

Every student is a teacher, and every teacher is a student. Couldn’t agree more.  Relating to the setting of deadlines as an “innovation”, that sounds like a back to the basic – push to students, using a behavioral approach.  For me, I think it depends on what sort of learning is needed.  For deep and personalized learning, I do think we would need to allow more autonomy for the students, so they could set up the goals, pace their learning with timelines whenever possible, instead of setting the pace for everyone to take, just like that in a traditional classroom.  This would allow slow learners to learn more progressively, and fast learners to speed up their learning too.

Open versus close learning

Scott says in this Close Learning:

I propose that we begin calling it “close learning.” “Close learning” evokes the laborious, time-consuming, and costly but irreplaceable proximity between teacher and student. “Close learning” exposes the stark deficiencies of mass distance learning such as MOOCs, and its haste to reduce dynamism, responsiveness, presence.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

I see open and close learning the 2-sides of the same coin, just as rote/shallow and deep learning – that are all coined learning, just dependent on the approach of learning and the pedagogy employed. Here is my sharing.

MOOCs are platforms, tools (embedded with technology) and philosophy, where there is no one right set of approach, though one could use instructivism, cognitivism, constructivism and social constructivism, and connectivism.

The present xMOOCs seem to rely heavily on instructivism, and that seems to resonate with the super-professors and xMOOC providers and administrators. All the posts we found seem to relate to connectivism though, where collective wisdom is distilled through conversation, Socratic questioning and responses, and critique with more in-depth understanding of each others’ views.

To what extent are these compatible with the face to face (25 plus) students interactive experience? It depends on what sort of learning that we are referring to, isn’t it? If we are referring to prescriptive knowledge and definitive learning outcomes, surely face to face teaching and learning would be far better way to share the learning experiences, within the 1 hour session.

However, if you want to solicit more ideas, more “words” of wisdom from a diversified source, then the current blogging conversation (as part of PLE) would provide that sort of interesting points of views.

I reckon every learner is different, and that depends on the learning style, background knowledge, skills and experience, when it comes to learning. One size doesn’t suit all, and so are MOOCs. Treat MOOCs as tools, and if we like, an experiment and game to play with. If it doesn’t work, ask why, and how to make it work better. Is that what (we) want?

My response to Neoliberalism and MOOCs- Part 1

Are MOOCs neoliberalist?

George Siemens in his post says:

The more prominent argument emerging is one of classifying MOOCs as neo-liberalism. This is disingenuous. First, I don’t think anyone actually knows what neoliberalism means other than “that thing that I’m thinking about that I really don’t like”. Second, if we do take a stance that neoliberalism is some combination of open markets, deregulation, globalization, small government, low taxes, death of the public organization, and anti-union, then MOOCs are not at all neoliberalist.

What is neoliberalism (Dag Einar Thorsen and Amund Lie)

“Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to guarantee, for example, the quality and integrity of money.

Are MOOCs the consequences of unintentional actions and decisions by the MOOC providers?

I wonder if some of the actions are intentional, though due to complexity of circumstances, the consequences are not easily predictable. Indeed, it is like chess playing in an international arena, where all the MOOCs creators, Venture Capitalists and hackers are putting their best investments into MOOCs, together with the HE institutions with those “games”. We could use computer simulations and sophisticated software to generate different future education scenarios, and come up with results as anticipated. There are however implications – like the “neoliberalism” – with privatization of HE, monetization of courses and professors’ webinars, seminars, books and videos, etc.

There are always intentions and purpose embedded in any MOOCs, and I don’t believe you could get a Certificate (from the elite HEs) really for free in a capitalist and commercial system. Otherwise, who would go to study with the elite HEs for fees? In other words, do not dream of getting a totally “free” great degree for absolutely free without terms and conditions, in a highly structured and regulated Higher Education System of the 21 st century. This may be obvious, though I present these ideas and concepts all based on my own ideas and experience, and I haven’t copied any other’s thoughts or from any other web sites or educators.

I would like to re-post my views of my previous posts below:

What would happen next?  I would predict that MOOCs soon be taken up not only by elite institutions, but also by private and for-profit institutions and venture capitalists.  This would soon lead to a complete privatization and marketization of MOOCs on a much wider scale, likely with developed countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada.  This would soon lead to “user-choice” based on a “free-market” where governments would need to “waive” for quality and accreditation as the MOOCs are not fees-charging courses.  Would this lead to a significant closure of HE institutions or colleges who couldn’t compete with the MOOCs?  The current trend tends to favor a more teacher-centred approach in xMOOCs where super-rockstar professors and elite institutions would take up 80 -90% market share of MOOCs.

The trend of MOOCs also clearly indicates that privatization would soon happen, and that those institutions who do not adapt to such competition would soon has to change its vision and mission to embrace online education and learning in order to survive.

Postscript: Here are my further comments posted on George Siemens’ post

I think privatization and monetization of HE is now a trend that could be hard to revert back. Universities can only afford to succeed once they are in partnership with the major MOOCs providers and there is simpler no route of return. You said:”The faculty response to MOOCs is particularly important. Almost every major MOOC initiative over the past 18 months has developed without the inclusion of the faculty voice.” I wonder what percentage of faculty would like to be involved in MOOCs because of the Hall of Fame effect as first promoted in the initial xMOOCs. It wouldn’t be surprising as super-rock professors would like to teach the world and be famous, isn’t that the reality? May be there are also altruistic reasons behind those professors who would like to contribute in making MOOC a success. MAKE IN HERE syndrome could also explain why most faculty would like to see MOOCs work in their country. John

Another post on MOOCs

Interesting to read another post on MOOCs.

Great, having short video lectures, quizzes, meet-ups, assignment, tests and examinations.

What would you add or change when it comes to truly innovative education?

If you were the professors of the course, what changes would you like to make in these structure?

I have been thinking many other ways of reaching the interested audience and students, NOT by video, NOT by quizzes, NOT by tests.  By what? If you were the expert with MOOCs that work, please tell us and share!

Think about how your students are most attracted or interested in networks, in communities and in classes.  Ask why they are excited, interested.  Think about yourself as a student.  How and what would you be interested, and why?

As shared in many posts and experts, don’t tell, tell, tell, but ask, ask, ask, as students nowadays are attracted to the course, not because of the course content only, but because of the values and skills that they could get out of their experiences.

Postscript: This post provides some useful ideas.

Are men and women different in expressing their opinions in social media?

Interesting to learn about the xMOOCs as reported by Mure on edX president predicts an online learning transformation – as evisioned by Professor Agnant Agarwal.

This is what we have found in “our” research: The research highlighted a difference between men and women in terms of their communication styles and preferences. Women tended to look for similarities or commonalities (i.e., in issues of language) that could become a source of bonding. In contrast, some men had a tendency to practice one-upmanship, in the sense of trying to keep one step ahead of other participants as competitors. Men were more task-oriented in their use of language, while women put more emphasis on socioemotional dimensions. (Kop, Fournier & Mak, 2011)

As Mary suggested: “Hard on problem, soft on people”.

There are now so many “opinion” & “marketing” pieces in media that many of us (including me) seem to be prophesizing with or without much evidences.  There are certain truths embedded in each claim : technology surely would enhance education and learning.

My questions are:

1. “How do we know we could transform the world of education with online education?”

2. “What is the theory behind such prediction?”

3. “Is the theory of disruptive innovation as proposed by Clayton Christensen predicting what we are experiencing?”

4. “Who have influenced the MOOC movement?”

Whilst I would anticipate that there would be a diversity of opinions on the above questions, I could only explain that we are now likely influenced by the “opinion pieces” in the major media, where the “super-star” professors and those in power in the media would likely be able to “convince” us well beforehand what would be a transformation of education.

Did we predict that in 2008?

I have great respects on many of the pioneers in xMOOCs – Agnant Agarwal, Andrew Ng, Daphne Koller, so please take these as questions, not as a way to dilute their assertions.

I also believe that men are more task – oriented, in that males are more than happy to “forge” their views and opinions than women.  Take a look at most of the news and media posts in most Higher Ed..  How many strong opinion pieces are written by males compared to females?  Male bloggers tend to include lots of evidences (despite that they are all re-mixed, re-purposed views and opinions) in their posts, but they are practically having the same message – a proponent or opponent of MOOCs.  On the other hand, female authors and bloggers are generally more careful in crafting their views and sharing them in blogs or major media.  They tend to hit the soioemotional dimensions, with a light touch on people, but great in rhetorical presentations.

I know this may be overly generalized, but it seems to be reflective of reality, as I have observed that in the decades of teaching and learning, and that throughout the MOOCs since 2008.  What do you think?

Reflection on MOOCs Part 2

Whilst MOOCs are blossoming in the first half of 2013, there are both proponents and opponents of MOOCs presenting their arguments in various posts.

Here in a post relating to the MOOCs experience where Karen says:

We must do more than put a camera in a lecture hall and put professors in a loosely moderated discussion forum. We must offer real-time interaction between professors and students, and between classmates. There must be learning objectives, not just topics to be covered, so students know where they’re headed academically. We must require students to be accountable and expect them to show a mastery of a subject beyond a “showing up” standard.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

In this post Richard Solash says:

While a number of universities attempted to introduce free online courses in the early 2000s, MOOCs have only begun to catch fire in the last year.

I am not so sure if that is reflective of what has happened in online education. MOOCs have begun since 2008, and the seeds were sown long before last year.  Why aren’t more journalists reporting on that?  I don’t have the answer.  I believe that media journalists, educators and researchers are all true to their heart in sharing and broadcasting what they have learnt through the media, researches and blogosphere.   That’s what professionalism is all about.

Tell the truth, nothing but the truth.

Someone say that MOOCs are new phenomena.  I don’t think that is the case.  I would still like to reveal the truth – MOOCs ARE NOT new phenomena, and it has started in 2008, not last year.  xMOOCs may be new to people, as I have posted here.

So, truth be told, on the historical background of MOOCs, and that we should all continue to critically examine and inquire about what has occurred in the MOOCs movement, through our lens and research, and not on the “text book” approach, where people told us the opinions, instead of facts.

How to prevent and eliminate plagiarism and cheating?

Isn’t cheating and plagiarism a huge concern in MOOCs?  Yes, as highlighted by Siemens (p6) here and McEachern in MOOC post here.

Cheating and plagiarism is rather common in online education, and in particular MOOCs.  Surprised?

One professor doesn’t want to give out the correct answer in MOOCs – in this post of “one-mooc-professor-wont-let-students-know-right-answers”.  The intention might be to minimize cheating in MOOCs.

How to prevent cheating and plagiarism?

Her is a nice post with videos on plagiarism and cheating.

It takes time & efforts to develop good assessment tools and questions (MC) in the same domain of known knowledge. There is a “threshold” limit where one could exhaust all questions on certain topic, unless you open up new topics. Cheating is still a challenge as students could appear as multiple “candidates”, and could share answers once they are known in multiple forms (emails), and even websites/social networks that are closed. The timed tests (MC) may be one way to control, but again, if multiple tries are allowed, one could “improve” upon time, and candidates could merely copy all the questions and answers and “resell” to others who want to know these. I am not an expert in cheating, but from observing and experience, we know that there are many tricks that could be used.

The most effective way to prevent students cheating is NOT to use Multiple Choice, or even Peer assessment as the sole means of assessment in MOOCs. But this would include more stringent assessment requirements, and may drive more students away, as this could mean that only LEARNING remains, without much “assessment” by the MOOCs. The assessment would then be done by taking “real tests, assessment or examinations, portfolios, and participating in Forum etc.” like what the first cMOOCs are required. This may not be the perfect way to prevent cheating and plagiarism, but at least, this would deter those who want to get the qualifications easily by ensuring that they work with authentic tasks, and produce original work. I seldom see students able to cheat that easily with customized and personalized learning tasks, and assessments.

What are you experiences on this area?

MOOCs and Global Classroom

What is a MOOC?

Will Massively Open Online Courses Transform the Way We Learn?

Do we have a global classroom with MOOCs?  

I think there are huge potential in having globalized education as I have shared here in my previous post.

Globalisation of higher education needs to be considered under the context of glocalisation – Look at the big picture, the big global forest, but act locally to contextualize the education to suit the needs and vision of the communities, with the local citizens in mind.  Learn globally and act locally, and be connected to the international communities.

Deakin University will be launching its first MOOC as a test bed.

Is the future of MOOC certain or uncertain?

“MOOCs may not be free forever, at least not all of them,” Selber cautioned. “People are trying to figure out business models that can support their design and delivery. They’re an expensive proposition if approached seriously.” The hope of their proponents is that MOOCs will democratize education.

Read more at:

As I said in my previous post: Is MOOC a threat to quality education, especially at public universities? When MOOCs reach a critical mass, where students would accept and prefer to learn through the free open course, rather than going to pay for a course, then it is/could be.

Emotional Intelligence Part 2

Have just re-visited some videos on emotional intelligence:

The Art of Managing Emotions

You would find some of my previous posts on Emotional Intelligence: here and here.

Whilst emotional intelligence is critical to success in managing emotions in personal life, managing customer service and organisation leadership, I think we need more empirical evidence and researches to support those claims relating to Emotional Intelligence and its impact on individuals and organisation.

Refer to this presentation by Peter Salovey on Emotional Intelligence.

Some papers on Emotional Intelligence (EI): here on EI and here on the measurement of EI.

My reflection on MOOCs

Here is a collection of my comments and reflection on FB group.

MOOCs as learning opportunity and connections

We are born to learn, and when we were babies, did we stop learning? From our dad, mum, brothers, sisters, before institutions. I see all learning as a continuum, once we are born, till we “die”. Institutions do play a role, and so do educators, peer learners, and many of our “friends” and “relatives” in our early growth. Even when we have left schools (or institutions), we are still experimenting our learning with others, our environment, with trial and errors, and our wisdom. Aren’t MOOCs there just to bring people “closer” together, irrespective of the status, qualifications, background, or skills level. What makes education (someone teaching us, or the teaching on us)? It is the care and support, the encouragement and inspiration which makes us feel important, in learning. When we failed, that may be the opportunity for us to learn best, where we realized that we are in need of perceiving things differently to better understand ourselves, in terms of strengths and areas of development. That is where MOOCs might be exploited as a window of opportunity, where we connect to share our understanding of each others, and how we perceive things from different angles, and see our differences in a different light.

MOOCs for the development of vocational and management skills and life-long learning

If education is designed to prepare people for developing skills for work, or to improve their existing knowledge and skills (competency), then surely xMOOCs might fulfill some of the aspirations from a provider point of view. How would these vision and mission of providers be matched with those of the learners? What are the assumptions behind the creation, design and delivery of MOOCs (both xMOOCs & cMOOCs)?  Have we asked and learnt what, how and why they are for?  We all hope cMOOCs could remain a neutral ground supportive of education.  That may both be an Utopian education model and a realistic one, depending again on what you (or we) want to achieve.

There are lots of MOOCs focusing on the training of skills based on Vocational Education and Training and computer programming, which seem to be quite easy to learn, providing you follow the procedures, and work out some of the exercises, answer the quizzes and tests etc. That is based on the knowledge transmission model, where the students would be expected to demonstrate the achievement of learning or performance outcomes by understanding the knowledge and applying them in specific ways. These sort of knowledge and skills could more easily be translated into OER and put into use in MOOCs, even without much intervention by teachers or professors. If we take a look at the programs available from the Youtube and various education programs (like the Yale, MIT, Stanford OERs), we would soon find that we have such an abundance of information and OERs that we just haven’t exploited them in MOOCs (due partly to the copyright, and the inability to customize them for our needs). Indeed, there are still lots of participants of MOOCs who have already got their Bachelors or Masters/PhDs. So, MOOCs seem to be filling the gap of life-long learning, rather than those who haven’t got the chance to attend universities, at the moment. Besides, there is a famous motto: You don’t need a butcher’s knife to butcher a chicken. This means that having professors teaching in MOOCs may be great so far if the “students” are “really” learning a lot from the teaching, and that those students really understand the “advanced concepts and knowledge” normally delivered at a University level course – at undergraduate or graduate level. May be, graduate students – Masters and PhDs have already mastered most of the skills necessary to conduct independent researches or to teach others using effective strategies. Would most professors still like to conduct researches, apart from teaching?

MOOCs and Assessment

Do these look familiar to you?

“Are we going to have a test on this next week? Which part of this lesson would be tested? What sort of questions would appear in our test? What are the answers to those questions?” Do these sound familiar in typical lessons? Are these typical questions from students who wish to get high grades in their examinations? Weren’t those the days when “we” as students want to learn more effectively and have a great learning experience? What percentage of students would get an overall A’s? Less than 5%, or 2%? Yes, with xMOOCs, students could try and get As by repeating the quizzes, assignments until “perfection”, etc. Isn’t that perfect? May be, but in a business setting, would that be the case? Do things right the first time – and this would result in no defects, less re-work, at work and in study! Do xMOOCs address these basic problems of learning?

Multiple choice (MC) questions have been a quick & easy way to assess a huge population of students. Even IQ test, GMAT, SAT and certain advanced or professional examinations have been using MC to screen, and grade students. The current xMOOCs have largely relied on MC/T/F and peer assessment to ensure its certificate is “validated” and accredited, when the persons taking the “exam” or “tests” are identifiable. However, this is still a problem when students use various means to “cheat” the MOOCs system.  How to prevent cheating and plagiarism in MOOCs?

MOOC, Online Education and its future

I am not sure if people are aware of the vision, mission of the first MOOCs, which were totally different from the present MOOCs.

The first MOOCs relate to open education, open teaching and learning, and digital scholarship.

Refer to this:

Original MOOCs (oMOOCs) were free, or at least extremely affordable, fully online, well-crafted and contained a lot of interesting pedagogy and instructional design. The target demographic was the underserved, both nationally and internationally.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Misunderstanding, lack of common “goals” among various institutions and professors, and differing interests in schools of education and pedagogy have all left people mixing MOOCs with online education.

To me, this is only part of the “wicked problems” especially when disruptive innovation comes into play in education.

Do we really agree upon what a high quality online education – like MOOCs would look like?

The early successes of xMOOCs had led to springing up of MOOCs within a year’s time, and whilst many elite higher education institutions were still figuring out what sort of vision, mission and strategies they should adopt and embrace, the media, experts and gurus were already heralding MOOCs as the next big wave and “Savior” to Higher Education.

Quick responses were compounded by “quick fixes” and “YOU MUST HURRY UP” sort of slogan, where institutions were too eager in joining MOOCs without much “damage control” under institution framework.

Are MOOCs as cited in posts reflective of the reality?

I highly doubt these recent developments mean the end of MOOCs, but they certainly seem to indicate that the MOOC concept is undergoing a transition.

Hasn’t the current MOOCs movement moved from educational discourse to political and socio-economic discourse?  This means that education under a MOOC model is not just a business, a commodity for the venture capitalist, or a by product or neo-liberalism, but a socio-economic product with social, economic and political gains which must be taken seriously when institutions are to adopt it as part of the mainstream.

Indeed, the current strategy adopted by most institutions when adopting MOOCs could include:

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?

Here are some further posts relating to MOOCs which provide deep insights and constructive comments:

1. Tony Bate’s post on MIT learning technologies and developing countries lessons in technology transfer and post on MOOCs MIT and Magic

2. Stephen Downes’ post on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge and this post the Great Re-branding.

3. Peter Slope’s post on How to improve teaching with technology

4. Terry Anderson’s post on MOOCs and distance education institutions

Transformative pedagogy has been proposed for years, though it seems to be limited in use on teaching and learning, especially in MOOCs.

This pedagogical foundation provides a summary of the pedagogies employed by xMOOCs, where the authors conclude:

MOOCs are in essence a restatement of online learning environments that have been in use for some time. What is new is the numbers of participants, and the fact that the format concentrates on short form videos, automated or peer/self–assessment, forums and ultimately open content from a representation of the world’s leading higher educational institutions. This review has demonstrated that MOOCs have a sound pedagogical basis for their formats.

What would be the future of Higher Education?

As shared in my previous post:

I would predict that MOOCs soon be taken up not only by elite institutions, but also by private and for-profit institutions and venture capitalists.  This would soon lead to a complete privatization and marketization of MOOCs on a much wider scale, likely with developed countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada.  This would soon lead to “user-choice” based on a “free-market” where governments would need to “waive” for quality and accreditation as the MOOCs are not fees-charging courses.  Would this lead to a significant closure of HE institutions or colleges who couldn’t compete with the MOOCs?  The current trend tends to favor a more teacher-centred approach in xMOOCs where super-rockstar professors and elite institutions would take up 80 -90% market share of MOOCs.

The trend of MOOCs also clearly indicates that privatization would soon happen, and that those institutions who do not adapt to such competition would soon has to change its vision and mission to embrace online education and learning in order to survive.

Research into professors’ experience in teaching and learning in x and cMOOCs

Do we need to conduct such researches?

Throughout the past years, there had been researches done on the learning experiences of participants of cMOOCs, and more recently, with the participants of x and cMOOCs.

I don’t see many systematic and inter-disciplinary researches into professors’ or facilitators’ experience in teaching and learning in x or cMOOCs, conducted by independent researchers or participants of MOOCs though.  There might be self-reflective blog posts by the professors of x or cMOOCs, and surveys and research interviews on the professors, by the professors, but not much by the participants or independent researchers.

What MIGHT BE the reasons for such rare research studies on professors?

Most researches are based on participants’ experience where learning could be investigated, with MOOCs. However, when it comes to research into x or cMOOCs, most of the professors might have preconceived what might be best as a pedagogy for their MOOCs, or that such pedagogy (Mastery Learning, an Instructivist – with behavioral/cognitivist approach) has already been pre-determined in the MOOC platform or in their design.  It could also be challenging to request professors to self-reflect fully on their experiences in teaching and learning in x and c MOOCs, as they would need to disclose their impressions, feelings and emotions, and how and what they have taught, facilitated and learnt through the MOOCs.  Besides, such researches might only be possible if they are conducted with independent researchers who have a good mastery of MOOCs, with adequate design of the research, and that researches are done in an ethical manner.  Besides, would MOOC professors be interested in participating in such a research?

Why this sort of research is important?

We have often heard about learners’ experience relating to MOOCs, and the constructive criticism for further improvement and innovation, with the use of technology or networks in MOOCs.  To what extent has such learning and development took place, by the professors and designers of MOOCs?

I would like to consider adopting such approach into the research on x and cMOOCs.  Some of the questions are included here.

Questions for the Designers, Instructors, or Professors of MOOCs:

Decisions to take part in MOOCs

1. Why would you like to create a MOOC?

2. What would you like to achieve with a MOOC?

3. What prior teaching or learning experience do you have with online education or MOOCs?

Design and delivery of MOOC

1. What would you like to include and expect in the design of MOOC? What are the design criteria? Why are they important to you and the participants?

2. What would you like to include and expect in the delivery of your MOOC? What are the delivery factors that you have considered? Why are they important to you and the participants?

3. What are the essential elements of a MOOC that would enhance the learning of the participants? Why do you think they are essential?

4. How would you evaluate the learning of the participants in MOOC?

5. What would you suggest to improve in your MOOC?

Research into MOOC

1. What research areas would be helpful to you in MOOC?

2. How would you conduct such research into MOOC?

3. What have you learnt through the design, delivery and review of MOOC?

4. What would you have done instead if you were to re-create a MOOC or start another MOOC?

More questions for professors and you

What do you think about such researches?

What research topics of MOOCs interest you?

MOOCs on spotlight again!

It seems MOOCs are now on spotlight again.  They have attracted the attention of educators and thinkers around the globe to talk about them seriously.

Never in history have Higher Education Institutions been so keen in moving this online education to the forefront, pushing them into the mainstream so fast, and so desperate to have them without much hesitation.

Remember the early talks on MOOCs where MOOCs are adopted as experiments only.  Here MOOCs organizers reinforced that their introduction of MOOCs are there to improve their in-campus or their online courses, and that they would not be offered for credit transfer to formal courses.  MOOCs are not intending to replace university degrees courses, as that would impact on the provision of mainstream courses which carried fees.

There are still perceptions that MOOCs would have limited impact on the Higher Education institutions where regulations on Higher Education is high, as shared in this post relating to the Australian Higher Education context:

MOOCs are not going to replace campuses anytime soon for Australian students. MOOC providers don’t offer degree programs, there is no credit for their subjects at Australian universities, and Australian students can’t get income support while they study a MOOC. Even if these obstacles are overcome, MOOCs don’t offer the social and lifestyle experiences of a campus.

The recent changes in MOOCs movement have turned the attention of focusing on the development of both online education programs and the offer of Master degree program based on MOOCs as outlined here and here with Udacity, Georgia Tech and AT&T partnership.

In this report on MOOCs by Brian Ross, where he says:

This IS about a new approach to pedagogy. Technology, trends, and broad actions in the market are disruptively changing teaching and learning. That is beyond the control of faculty members and academic leaders. And often their tendency is to examine this as an academic experiment—to study it and wait for outcomes.
Faculty members must understand that online learning is a new approach to pedagogy and embrace its possibilities.  Academic administrators— chairs, deans, provosts, and presidents—must also embrace the change and encourage a constructive response.

There are major challenges with MOOCs, such as those relating to quality, pedagogy, plagiarismstudent identity and concerns of professors.

How would we apply quality assurance in MOOCs?

As I have shared in this post, quality assurance could be applied in formal open online education courses under institutional framework, as one could relate to the education system – quality polity, procedures and instructions.

However when quality is applied in an open networked model, it could be perceived differently, as quality is valued laden, and such value could include

(a) value for money,

(b) value for purpose (fitting one’s purpose of doing the MOOCs),

(c) value for conformance to requirements (suiting the learners’ requirements, in terms of time spent, content to be learnt)

(d) value for connections (prestige or status associated with those connections, to the institutions, to the networks, to the professors) etc.

Professor Martin Weller says in this post on MOOCs and quality:

We therefore develop quality measures and procedures that monitor these intentions. These could be student completion rates, student satisfaction scores, external assessment of course content, checks against external benchmarks, etc. In a MOOC many of these intentions are altered, either radically or subtly. At the moment it’s not entirely clear what the intentions of institutions are – is it to attract more formal students, to provide a public good, to make money?

– See more at:

Refer to this slide on MOOC and its implication on educational institutions.

There is a proposed model on Quality Assurance
Process 1: Best practice professional standards reviewed and accepted by experts in the discipline.
Process 2: All participant final portfolios assessed against agreed standards by independent assessors.
Process 3: Agreed portion of institutional/mentor assessments moderated by quality assurance panel

Pedagogy of MOOCs

In this Understanding MOOC, professor Allison Littlejohn provides a thorough review on the MOOCs, where most of the pedagogy mentioned in her paper relates to the networked learning approach, that aligns more with Connectivism as a basis of cMOOCs.

I could relate those findings to my post on What are MOOCs all about?

In this white paper, the cMOOCs are distinguished from the xMOOCs:

cMOOCs emphasise connected, collaborative learning and the courses are built around a group of like-minded ‘individuals’
who are relatively free from institutional constraints. cMOOCs provide a platform to explore new pedagogies beyond
traditional classroom settings and, as such, tend to exist on the radical fringe of HE. On the other hand, the instructional
model (xMOOCs) is essentially an extension of the pedagogical models practised within the institutions themselves, which is
arguably dominated by the “drill and grill” instructional methods with video presentations, short quizzes and testing.

Relating to the differences to cMOOCs and xMOOCs (slide 7):

First MOOC format to be developed MOOC format on the rise at Universities
More connectivist learning oriented: George Siemens More behaviorist learning oriented: Burrhus Frederic Skinner
Based on dialogue Based on student/content
More informal (participant input & content production), open badges More formal (behaviorist approach: easier for assessment and accreditation)
Network building, trust in collaboration,. Less networking, trust in content and institution
Ad Hoc learner space: Learning Quilt Fixed LMS: Coursera, Udacity
Social media rich Social media used
Expert learning, Community of Practitioners (CoP), lifelong learning for high knowledge workers Personal accreditation, lifelong learning basics, personal knowledge increase, starting from basic information.
Room for emergence More stick to the plan
High drop out, free in most cases

Referring to this paper on MOOCs.  The authors conclude:

This review has demonstrated that MOOCs have a sound pedagogical basis for their formats. What we have not addressed however are the larger questions around whether taking a collection of MOOCs could replace obtaining an education on campus at a university in all of its facets of personal development and education.

What are the merits of MOOCs?

“The real value of attending a great university isn’t just the content.  It’s the interaction with the person delivering that content.” said Professor Andrew Ng, cited in this post by Cassidy on Coursera-Udacity-and-Edx-get-pushback.

So it is the interaction with the professor in university that would be of real value, when attending a great university, not just the content.

How about the concerns of professors towards MOOCs?

Here is another critique on the economics of online education:


In conclusion, MOOCs are here to stay.  There are major challenges with MOOCs, such as those relating to quality, pedagogy, plagiarismstudent identity and concerns of professors.

As shared in my previous post, the emergence of MOOCs has touched the nerves of many college and educational leaders. To some educators, professionals and learners, MOOCs seem to have become the hype of education of the year.  To others who are working as professors, educators and administrators, MOOCs have become part of their institutions’ growth and development, especially so in institutions like Coursera, Udacity and edX and the associated universities.  To some learners in the developing countries, MOOCs have afforded them with opportunities to learn from the highly prestigious institutions in the world that they couldn’t even dream of in the past.

So, MOOCs values could be viewed differently by different people.  It surely could be one of the most significant trend in this time of flux in Higher Education.

Based on the present trajectory of MOOCs, it seems that they would likely become the future of education.  This trend is based on the increasing number of  Higher Education Institutions and MOOCs providers joining the MOOC bandwagon.

2013 could be another MOOCs mania.

Intellectual property of MOOCs and who own them

MOOCs and intellectual property.  Who own the content of MOOCs?  Are they intellectual property of the professors, the institutions or MOOC providers?

In this post on professors want to own moocs before moocs own them by Meghan Neal:

“If we lose the battle over intellectual property, it’s over,” former American Association of University Professors president Cary Nelson said at the group’s annual conference this week. “Being a professor will no longer be a professional career or a professional identity.”

But since the explosive popularity of MOOCs, universities stand something to gain by retaining ownership over a course even without the original professor. Though some super-star teachers attract potential students on their own, more often than not students choose a course based on the institution offering it.

Read more:
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This would be the concerns for most professors, as that’s where professors would add significant values to the education system, under MOOCs.

Here is my part of my previous post MOOCs:

Are We MOOC’d Out? – Huffington Post –
Who would win this race of MOOC mania? Of course the institutions who have the resources, money, professors, and support from those who are looking for values from the xMOOCs. Time has proven that. Did you see most news on MOOCs are praises (hypes) which are unlike the typical news in newspapers which are more than 80% negative? Do we need more good news? To be more patriotic, and loving and caring the society and institutions? In my post  , I commented that this is what educators love to do – promoting good values of good citizenship, pro-social behavior, demonstrating and modelling wonderful professionalism in public. All these are good acts of being an educator.

The reality is: with the shrinkage of funding, more educators would need to work their way out, in order to remain “employable” and stay in their education business. Be proactive in learning, get skilled, be adaptive, and be innovative, or else, there is another exit for those who couldn’t cope or adapt to the system – would they leave, or “die”? This applies not only to teachers, administrators, but also to institutions and corporations. I am trying to be optimistic. But I reckon the ones who might have to worry most are those who are teaching MOOCs now, as once their work are shared, would you still need them any more?

In a Chinese proverb, when the cunning rabbit is dead, you could cook the dog. When the flying birds are gone, you could pack up the bow and arrows. The moral of this proverb is: if the teachers have already served its needs, do you still need them? May be for a different purpose, or a different job.

In xMOOCs, only the content and assessment is the most valuable part. We all know the interaction and engagement with the professors (through dialogue, conversation and feedback) is where students perceived to be most valuable for their learning, but that would be reserved for fees paying students, when these students attend the institution course. Once all content and assessment is opened to the public, there is limited added value that would be perceived by the teacher or students. The teacher might no longer be needed, as the videos are already prepared. Would you still pay the professors for that? May be for branding purpose! You could still employ the professors for face-to-face teaching, but as Sebastian Thrun mentioned, only some tens (was it less than 50 left out of his 200 students) attended the live sessions? Even the best professors would go and set up their own education business (Sebastian, and many who followed suite).

Online Education and MOOC

What is online education like?

There was an old Chinese motto: Poor rice fields won’t attract farmers to plow, but once there are farmers plowing such fields, many other farmers would join in and compete.

Does it sound like what happens in online education?  Here the rice field is online education.  Once online education was found to be of an inferior quality in terms of yielding of academic results, with poor progression and completion rates.

I just happened to come across the post on Conversation:

The expected 4 billion new members of the middle class who will join the rest of us by 2050 will likely demand more dairy and meat. These require an enormous amount of grains to produce.

Are we entering a new era where online education and MOOCs have become the near to “life safer” to Higher Education?  In this article:

This week, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a group of provosts from Big 10 universities, issued a position paper saying that higher education must take advantage of new education technology — but perhaps on its own.

To what extent is this a reality?  Would school compete, leading to students winning?  May be when education is centered around competition for students among school, a new form of education with a different business education model would emerge.

There is another side of education, when MOOCs become the battleground for education, as Justin shares in MOOC the opium mass:

Why suddenly then are we so eager to accept Massive Open Online Courses –gigantic classes for the masses- as a good thing? The truth is that the massiveness inherent in the MOOC model is a throwback to darker days of Industrial Age education packaged in a shiny new hi-tech wrapper. And we, the sheep-like masses are swallowing this hollow candy with reckless abandon.

All these led me to reflect on what problems that we are actually facing in Higher Education.  Aren’t these all wicked problems associated with disruptive innovation (MOOCs offered by others) where Higher Education Institutions are trying to tackle, using MOOCs to counter-act them?

What about the quality of teaching and learning in MOOCs?

The fact that quality may be understood – and perhaps also operationalised – so differently, according to context and perspective, renders it a particularly wicked area to theorise and analyse.

Approaches to theorising the questions of quality in higher education are wide-ranging and contested. One reason for this is that these approaches represent the confluence of several theoretical paradigms and discourses. These paradigms include the often tacit performativity agenda (Blackmore, 2009; Cowen, 1996) and the Total Quality Management model (TQM; Bensimon, 1995) taken directly from industry and applied as a governance methodology for higher education. This has deeply influenced how universities approach the ‘business’ of education.

In the position white paper  CIC-Online-Learning-Collaboration-for-IHE-FINAL released, adaptive instruction was highlighted.  It is about “what do I want my students to learn?” being the focus of future Higher Education, in order to improve the overall value proposition to the students, and those who support the students, including the institutions.

This means not only a philosophical shift of attitude from “What do I want to teach?” to “What do I want my students to learn?” It also means a shift of accountability toward promoting student learning and collecting systematic data about whether or not our teachers and students are succeeding—together. There are implications here for how we evaluate the quality of instruction within the institution, as well as how we respond to external demands from a variety of constituencies (including our students and their parents) to better document what students are learning from their coursework and degrees.

These also reminded me of the parable of the Sower sows his seeds:

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

MOOC could also be perceived as a platform, in the form of garden, whereas the central theme of a garden is to grow its plant.

Would such garden be free?  As I have shared it here, where the wonderland is free for awhile, it is hard to sustain.

Would MOOCs be here to stay without tears?  I am afraid they would still be facing a lot of challenges, like the pedagogy to be adopted, sound business models that are to be established, cultural and quality issues that are yet to be overcome.

As I have shared, we are now in the Lord of the Ring game, where those who win takes all. Education is now a game, not as much as the once enlightenment or passion sort of education vision, but a pragmatic sort of education of whether one could get a job after taking a course of study, or getting famous through “educating” others in MOOCs.

It is the media that would likely determine who is the winner, not the test anymore, as no one could objectively test or examine what is really “competent” or “capable” under those framework, mainly because they are producer driven, not user driven.


Authentic Learning with projects

Does it sound familiar to you?  This may be new in the Western world.   Or is it new?

This prompted me of my learning back decades ago.  In my second year of Polytechnic University Engineering studies, I spent the whole semester (half a year) learning and working in the factory workshop, doing similar to what this girl was doing, though I was to produce objects based on drawings, with machining, and numerous engineering projects.

Learning could be fun, when working on projects of one’s interest.

It is however a different type of learning, when learning in a workshop or factory environment, as it requires much more than the knowledge of mathematics and technology.

Remember Taylorism?  And the scientific management principles, where efficiency and effectiveness is the golden rule to achieving best performance in factory.

For those of you who have worked in years in factories, you would surely know what are most important skills at work.  These include team working, communication, information and communication technology, interpersonal skills, problem solving, critical thinking and creative thinking, and leadership skills etc.

Nevertheless, that is the authentic personal learning with projects.  A good start for teenagers!

Can we slay the dragon king?

Very interesting presentation on Financial Crisis and the predictions on such bubbles by Didier.

If this theory is able to rightly predict the Financial Crisis, I wonder if this could also help in predicting the Education Crisis – based on the current debates on MOOCs.

There are certain similarities between Financial Crisis and Bubbles and those with education – and Higher Education in particular.

The use of Complexity and Emergence theory could explain parts of the phenomenon we have observed in Higher Education in the past few years, and the theory of Disruptive Innovation as highlighted by Clayton Christensen significantly provides the predication on what would happen to Higher Education and MOOCs.

In the  “MOOC bubble and attack on public education“:

The MOOC revolution, if it comes, will not be the result of a groundswell of dissatisfaction felicitously finding a technology that naturally solves problems, nor some version of the market’s invisible hand. It’s a tsunami powered by the interested speculation of interested parties in a particular industry. MOOCs are, and will be, big business, and the way that their makers see profitability at the end of the tunnel is what gives them their particular shape.

– See more at:

Could we predict what happens next with education, when disrupted by technology and changes in environment?

Harvard Business School professor and disruption guru Clayton Christensen says that a disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.

We are still at an early stage of such innovation disruption, though the trend and pattern is apparent.

Motivation and Intention in participating and engaging with MOOCs

Is intention an appropriate measure of success of MOOCs?

I reckon each person’s intention in MOOCs is different, though the participation and engagement could likely fall into patterns similar to the four archetypes of MOOCs.

My proposition and assumptions relating to motivation and intention in participating and engaging with MOOCs include:

Psychological factors, Like/dislike of MOOCs (as public/commoditised/monetised goods), credentials achivement, & pedagogy used in MOOC as perceived by people could make a difference.

1. How would people’s perception impact on their intention to learn with MOOCs?

1.1 What factors would determine people’s intention to enroll into MOOCs?

– These students/participants intend to browse and audit the programs.  These participants could include: (a) professors, educators and experts in their field or other fields who would like to have a sense of feel on what MOOCs are, and how they are run; (b) researchers and Master or PhD students who would like to conduct researches on MOOCs, as part their faculties requirements or qualification requirements; (c) participants who are life-long learners, who might have got a degree in the field, or in other fields, but are interested in the field of study.  There might be some people who like the pedagogy, and others who dislike the pedagogy.

– These students/participants intend to engage and interact with part of the course content and or other participants with discussion boards.  These participants could include those of the above, but with an intent to complete a few to most of the activities, assessments or examinations,  but have no intention of getting credits or expecting credentials out of the MOOCs

– These students/participants intend to engage and interact fully with the course content and other participants with the LMS.  These participants are more inclined to like the pedagogy adopted, though again there may be a minority of participants who dislike the approach, but not willing to disclose their emotions or feelings in open public.  These sort of feelings towards courses are typical in learners attending most institution based courses.  Feelings of loneliness, lack of interaction with others and professors, and lack of “support” that relate to motivation could be issues and concerns.  Others include the messiness and frustration emerging from the participation in forum and discussion boards, when trolling and “tangential discussions”, negative criticisms are present in the forum postings, and the concerns of moderation.

1.2 What factors would determine people’s intention to like/dislike MOOCs?

1.3 How would such likes/dislikes translate into learning in MOOCs?

1.4 To what extent would learning styles impact on one’s motivation to learn in MOOCs (xMOOCs in particular)?

1.5 How would each of the factors, likes/dislikes and learning styles relate to the four archetypes of MOOCs – lurkers, passive learners, active learners and drop-ins?

2.  Teaching, social and cognitive presence are often cited as the most important factors in successful online presence.  To what extent are these presence contribute to the successful learning in xMOOCs?

3. What are the goals and motivation of xMOOCs participants?

In this article on 6002x-data-offer-insights-into-online-learning (full article here):

It is noteworthy that:

Participation and performance do not follow the rules by which universities have traditionally organized the teaching enterprise:  MOOCs allow free and easy registration, do not require formal withdrawals, and include a large number of students who may not have any interest in completing assignments and assessments.

This finding aligns with what have been found in previous research:

As our research on PLENK (cMOOCs) revealed, many participants of cMOOCs are putting assessment as (lowest) in priority. This is different from the xMOOCs where assessment is given a high priority by the instructors (professors), and may be some students, especially the undergraduate students who would like to use that to improve their performance with their own courses. Besides, there are lots of graduates and adult learners and educators in cMOOCs who are more interested in learning about the pedagogy, the different learning theories, and the emergent tools and technology. They may already have got their qualifications, or that they aren’t keen in being assessed, or being “instructed” under a “mastery learning approach”. There are also professors, experts, professionals who wish to know how MOOCs are designed and run, and how they might be used in their own fields. These all “contradict” to the initial design of xMOOCs, though could be easily accommodated in cMOOCs, as that is exactly what cMOOCs are designed for.

It should be stressed that over 90% of the activity on the discussion forum resulted from students who simply viewed preexisting discussion threads, without posting questions, answers, or comments.

This is not surprising at all, as such pattern of involvement in discussion forum has repeatedly appeared in previous cMOOCs (see Rita and her colleagues’ research publications on MOOCs).  It is typical to note a highly active participation or posting on the discussion forum at the start of a MOOC followed by an exponential drop in the later part of the course.  Such pattern of engagement may vary from cMOOCs to xMOOCs though as the xMOOCs have numerous assessment components (like homework, examinations) which may lead students to post questions in the discussion forum.

Discussions were the most frequently used resource while doing homework problems and lecture videos consumed the most time.

There are also differences in the cohort of students, with xMOOCs more likely consisting of younger students compared to that of those in cMOOCs.  A more in-depth analysis of the student populations would be needed to compare the xMOOCs and cMOOCs students’ populations.

In xMOOCs, success has been defined by the research authors as the grades students earned.  Measure of success as “achievement”.

In cMOOCs, success has yet to be defined, though many researchers and educators have proposed it to be defined as the achievement of personal goals as set forth whilst participating and engaging with cMOOCs.

“This is also noteworthy that majority of students (75.7%) did not work offline with anyone on the MITx material.”  and that those who did work offline with others have achieved 3 points higher than those who didn’t.  This again illustrates that many students of xMOOCs would likely learn on their own, without resorting to the “help” or “support” from others, especially with a technical course such as MITx- 6002x.

This pattern of online learning seems to coincide with the current mode of learning in an online learning environment, where most students are still learning on their own, with or without the use of PLE/PLN.

Would this pattern of engagement be typical for xMOOCs humanities courses?

These questions posted in the article are interesting for further exploration.

What are students’ goals when they enroll in a MOOC? How do those goals relate to the interaction with various modes of instruction or course components? What facilitates or impedes their motivation to learn during a course? How can course content and its delivery support students’ self-efficacy for learning? Similarly, how can online environments support students’ metacognition and self-regulated learning? Do interventions such as metacognitive prompts and guided reflection improve student achievement or increase retention?

How to save Higher Education?

What should we do to save Higher Education?

I wonder if we could use energy as a metaphor to Higher Education.  Can we save energy (Higher Education) using a behavioral approach?  Rather than telling people how much they could save by investing in education, or what benefits they could have in receiving Higher Education, could we compare how much we could save as compared to our neighbor in terms of the expense (cost) we could save by having Higher Education?

The need of intellectual and scholastic development, not just skills

I am all for the intellectual development, creative, critical thinking skills and scientific mindset embedded in degrees courses offered by Higher Education institutions.

I still believe in degrees offered by Universities to be of great education values to students, and so Higher Education is here to stay.   As compared to Vocational Education and Training, Higher Education calls for a “higher” order education and learning which requires more than the practical and vocational skills, and are challenging people to further their advancement in the creation of new and emergent knowledge and research capability, so as to tackle more difficult and complex wicked problems in the world.

It is overly simplistic and short sighted to provide industry and businesses with a pool of “skilled” labors who could competently do the existing work only.  The world requires a futuristic sets of literacies and competencies where jobs and careers are yet to be created and established.

So, my question is:  Is MOOC the answer to these problems and challenges?

I don’t have the answer.

Reflection on Higher Education, Vocational Education and Training and Online Education

Here is Sebastian Thrun’s reflection on Online Education

The approach adopted by Udacity is highlighted in this How it works.

What do I think?

This approach towards education seems to align more with the Vocational Education and Training – with learning as doing, more pragmatic and practical based approach sort of education and training.

There are some significant differences between Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training.  Higher Education seems to align more with the provision of a broad range of skills and contemporary knowledge as offered in Universities, though Vocational Education and Training relates more to the provision of skills and competencies so learners are ready for work or be more productive and skillful at work.

1.  The purpose of education is to engage with the world, and to prepare the learners to be tenacious and resourceful, imaginative and logical, self disciplined and self-aware, collaborative and inquisitive.  And one of the most important purposes of education is learning how to learn.  Learn globally and act locally, and be connected to the international communities.

2. The purpose of vocational education and training is to deliver a productive and highly skilled workforce.

Learning by doing is a practical way to achieve goals set in learning, and would surely be easily adopted when those skills set are prescriptive and pre-determined by both authorities, businesses, employers, administrators and educators.  The challenge nowadays is that such prescriptive competency often goes outdated within a few years, as Sebastian has pointed out, in particular with the computer, ICT, and Artificial Intelligence industry.  If that is the case, how would one continue to keep abreast of the current knowledge and information trends, and acquire the skills needed to perform at work?

What are the options available to accomplish those education and learning goals related to such knowledge and skills development?  Is life-long learning skills a part of any education curriculum?  Is MOOC part of such a curriculum?  What are the merits and demerits with the use of MOOCs in Higher  Education and Vocational Education and Training?

Transformation of Higher Education – Why is it so hard?

Is transformation of Higher Education possible?  My reflections:

Relating to the ideas on transformation of  Higher Education with improved teaching and education reform as discussed in this article, I reckon this is similar to the adoption of a connectivist approach in Higher Education.  There are still long roads to cross, due to the enculturated values of teaching and research that have been embraced by both professors and administrators for decades.  Besides there are demands of stability under an education system in Higher Education, it would be difficult to transform Higher Education without changing the pedagogy.  Transformation of Higher Education through improved teaching requires a review of the pedagogy adopted in HE.  I would reflect on this important aspect in another post relating to MOOCs.

Carl envisions and demands better teaching, with push backs from other academics due to challenge of traditional values and cultures that have been in the education system for decades.  I think many professors do know what could be done to improve & innovate teaching.  Higher Education values research over teaching, and that wouldn’t be changing as research “creates” & generate new knowledge, whilst teaching would at best transmit knowledge, as generally perceived by professors and students.

For those very smart & talented students, wouldn’t they just need minimum guidance and would then excel as Carl has cited in the article, under an apprenticeship model, with graduates?  For under-graduate students, only the top and talented students would learn most effectively with such model, as they are self-motivated and regulated.

For most other students, there are still needs for close support and mentoring, that are obviously absent if the only way to learn is the 50 min mass lecture method.

If I were to ask Carl: Is your Nobel Prize based on research or teaching?  If the answer is teaching, then would professors be considering how to improve teaching in a deeper way?

Besides, all PhD and Doctorate programs are still focusing on research as a principal means to gauge and evaluate a persons’ achievement in scholastic and research in the field.  How would we expect  professors to spend time in “teaching” their students when such PhD students are already good enough to learn with technology and network affordance?

But would this be an over-simplification of what teaching of under-graduate programs are all about?  Teaching concepts or correcting misunderstood or incorrect concepts in science is important.  However, would the use of MC and T/F or short answer questions be good enough to inculcate the values and applications of science in real life?

Some students would still prefer lecture method, and so many professors would continue to do so (and I think I would practice it too), as any negative comments or feedback from students would only lead to professors adopting more teacher-centered approach, when they are reminded that these are what the students want – to know the answers to the examination, tests, quizzes and assignments straight away, instead of spending time exploring themselves.

Some students are uncomfortable with this approach—even if it’s more effective. “I remember getting an evaluation from one
[UCSD] student who had just finished my course,” says Simon, a pioneer in the use of peer instruction within her field. “I loved
it. It read, ‘I just wish she’d have lectured. Instead, I had to learn the material myself.’ ” See above article.

Numerous researches have hinted that students want simple and effective means of learning, not complicated or complex tasks which are both time-consuming and difficult to perform.  That is the reality and challenge that most educators and professors are facing Higher Education.  Isn’t it?

The old motto: “Tell them what you want to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you have told them” have now been “transformed” into various formats of video lectures (both mass video lectures and short video lectures with quizzes – like those on Youtube), teaching posts or artifacts, or a combination of face-to-face lectures with online tutorials/quizzes – MC, T/F, and short answer questions, or peer assessments, or eportfolios.

Learning from Social Media

To what extent could social media be used for formal education?

As shared in my posts here and here:

For autonomous educators and learners who are learning via the broader networks, with webs and internet, it seems that blogging would likely serve their needs better in “broadcasting” and reflection of their learning or teaching.

Forum and network platforms such as Moodle, FB, wiki would then be “gateways” for open sharing and discussion of ideas.

Twitter would be ideal of information links and dissemination of news and sharing of links to blog posts or event updates, and real time postings of presentation or conference.

How far would institutions be ready for the decentralized approach (i.e. Connectivist learning) be adopted in online education and MOOC?

“The adoption of MOOCs in formal education institutions is challenging, though it opens up new opportunities to experience the co-creation of networks within communities and new and participatory forms of communication and collaboration for both learners and educators.”

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 CoursesThe International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. Vol 12, No. 7 (2011).

What would be critical in the introduction of social media in formal education?  Social media should be introduced with a vision and purpose in mind, especially under a formal institution infrastructure.  What sort of pedagogy would be aligning with the design and use of social media when fused into formal education?