MOOCs: Innovative Way to Educate the Masses or a Dangerous Phenomenon with the Potential to Crumble Global Education Standards?

Posted: June 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


MOOC Crib (Photo credit: snowpup5)

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concept is to provide free programs of education to anyone who feels the need to participate; the classes generate a certificate, but no actual credits, are either self or peer evaluated, and are conducted by highly respected education professionals. The issue with concept is the concern that the free education system, which is gaining notoriety with the American Council of education, could potentially cause institutions of higher learning revenue loss, which could ultimately lead to loss of (or at least a reduction of) face to face instruction. Daphne Koller’s presentation entitled “What we’re learning from an online education” argues the MOOC concept provides millions of people who could not otherwise afford a college level education, the opportunity to learn in an online format without the burden of cost. Jason Ohler’s article “MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used” compiles a number of arguments from prominent education professionals that argue against the concept. I have provided a link to both sources and a digital copy of Mr. Ohler’s article. You be the judge and provide your own opinion on the topic.

MOOC Professors Claim No Responsibility for How Courses Are Used

  1. jasonohler says:

    Bobby- thanks for the repost. The intent of the post was to pass along some insight I found on the web, only some of which I share. I have been looking into MOOCs for awhile, just because the anthropologist in me is fascinated by mass hysteria, and I will tell you what I have I learned.

    1- Hard to find rationale conversations about MOOCs
    It is hard to have a rationale conversation about MOOCs. Colleagues, whose perspective I have trusted for some time, have emotional reactions to MOOCs that surprise me. Some are very pro MOOCs, most are the opposite. When I probe as to why, the emotional barrage begins.

    2- It is a lot about expectation management
    I think the art of successful MOOCing depends on successful expectation management. Anyone who expects the same experience in a MOOC s/he gets in a graduate class of 12 students simply has not been educated about what to expect. Because we are not used to this new experience, we bring old expectations to it, that simply don’t work.

    3- We need a MOOC study/taxonomy
    We are at the point at which we should develop a taxonomy of MOOCs. There are many different approaches at this point; variables include class size, participant interaction, faculty interaction with students, feedback, assignment course credit, student response, etc. We are at the point at which we need a scientific study this phenomenon.

    4- We should watch how new technologies will impact MOOCs – especially AI
    I had McLuhan as a teacher all those years ago, and I still watch the medium massage the message. In the case of MOOCs, because we can do them, we try to do them, and then grow into their technical capabilities. The question is how to handle them. I think we should expect to see the growth of AI in terms of analyzing student text work. Otherwise, we will be using multiple choice tests, which sets us back pedagogically a number of years. It will also be interesting to watch how social media evolves with regard to MOOCs

    5- Developing public syllabi the new role of the teacher?
    The last point is philosophical. I think one of the new roles of the teacher can be that of preparing publicly accessible course material, whether they translate into MOOCs or not. By that I mean it is up to us to use our cultivated filters to help others who are trying to understand a content area. Recently I took a MOOC through MIT in creativity, technology and education. I didn’t pay for it, receive course credit or faculty feedback – but I was fine with that because I didn’t expect that. Instead, I took advantage of the fact that MIT specialists had put together an experience for students. Otherwise, would have had to do that on my own, without any of the insight they had. The value they added was finding and packaging the resources for the course. Essentially this is what we as teachers do every time we develop a syllabus. So, making this public becomes one of our new roles – adding value to the world of info overload by simplifying and interpreting it. Whether we add a “class” to go along with it is, to me, secondary.

  2. I took a course, College Algebra, through and found the content and rigor to be quite good. This particular course was partnered with UC San Diego and I had the option of taking the course for credit (for a very nominal fee). In this case the course was well presented, logically laid out, and covered the content in sufficient detail to promote learning. Because I was taking the course as a refresher and not for credit, I can’t comment if the testing components would have been more rigorous. On the tests and quizzes you were given immediate feedback if you got the question right/wrong and I had the option of coming back and reworking the problems I got wrong. I did this a few times to fix mistakes so I would learn. Would a MOOC replace an entire College curriculum? I don’t think so; too much other learning goes on at University. But, it clearly has a place in both supplementing learning and, as in my case, providing continuing adult education.

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