What is a MOOC?


Massive Open [[#|Online Courses]] (MOOCs) are an evolutionary step further than Open Content. A few faculty have begun using online platforms to teach courses to large numbers of students, occasionally reaching above 100,000 enrollments in a single course offering. These courses are offered for free to anyone who chooses to access them. In the majority of cases, course credits are not offered for completing a MOOC. While one-off MOOCs have been taught since at least 2008, they are rapidly gaining momentum, largely due to companies and collaborative projects such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity. - allan.gyorke allan.gyorke Nov 21, 2012

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Some [[#|higher education]] institutions are considering accepting MOOCs to fulfill some basic requirements (possibly after passing an exam). - allan.gyorke allan.gyorke Nov 21, 2012
  • MOOCs may be a threat to existing financial models of some institutions since they are creating low-cost or free alternatives to normal tuition-based course offerings.- allan.gyorke allan.gyorke Nov 21, 2012 Or they may be an opportunity for insit=utions to revisit and reconstruct their current business/financila models in light of the affordances and displaceents that MOOCs amy bring.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
  • MOOCs are often criticized for low completion rates and a lack of mechanisms to ensure academic integrity. - allan.gyorke allan.gyorke Nov 21, 2012- jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012
  • MOOCs are also criticized for low levels of engagement. Interactions that lead to learning often occur within peer groups, or with TA's who moderate the MOOC experience. The flow of instructor involvement is, by definition often one-way--from the online lecture out to the student.- jasonr jasonr Nov 26, 2012- billshewbridge billshewbridge Dec 1, 2012
  • It's important to understand current MOOCs are still first generation. They've been around for about a year really. IMHO complaints about low completion rates are irrelevant. If 10% of a class of 100,000 people finish, that's still 10,000 people who finished. If the class is free, then what's the problem? - andrew.barras andrew.barras Nov 26, 2012Totally agree- helga helga Nov 29, 2012 I think there is potential for a new generation of MOOC's to take the education sector by storm with higher levels of engagement. Utilizing previous students as well as facilitators can bring MOOC's into the active learning environment. - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Dec 2, 2012
  • Despite the unfortunate connotations of the name ( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mook) the fact that MOOCs will play a part in all our futures is beyond question, but the effect they will have long term is anybody's guess. On the one hand, they can provide education, with a small e, to the masses, which has to be a good thing, but if that means that Education with a capital E is compromised, that is a bad thing. We rely on the funding from students to carry out our work in Higher Education, and if that funding is reduced because the number of participating students is reduced, then we area ll in trouble. As a former employee of Kaplan Open Learning in the UK, I consistently saw educational standards compromised in the pursuit of profit - if students did not pass the module, KOL did not get paid, therefore pressure was placed on the tutors to ensure students got a passing grade, even if they did not deserve it. MOOCs will have to be monetised in some way, as we cannot rely on our debt-ridden traditional students to fund these pro bono courses forever - and there are some interesting suggestions as to how this may be done - but my main concern is that the for profit motivations may well compromise the level of education provided. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 27, 2012- jasonr jasonr Nov 27, 2012
  • MOOCS are just getting off the ground. I've taken several courses from Coursera and now am enrolled in two from Venture-Lab. In each case, trying to create team collaboration has been immensely challenging...both from the software side that creates teams among thousands of students, and then all the issues with time zones, firewalls, blocked websites and so on that are encountered when your 'team' lives on 2 or 3 different continents. Apart from that issue, I have found them to be immensely rewarding. With or without the 'letter of completion' that comes with some courses. I note that UW (Seattle) has just received a large grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to use Coursera courses and adapt them to a UW learning platform to both: prepare high school students for college ("college readiness") *and* to help students already enrolled have a more enriched learning environment to draw from. I like the idea that MOOCS really flatten the learning playing field and brings world class education to many learners, regardless of age, income level or location. If you have a smartphone with decent bandwidth you could learn from just about anywhere. I think these classes are especially exciting for high school students who are bored with the standard venue and want something more. - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012
  • MOOCs may influence take up of educational technologies, blended and online learning for those academic afraid of being too far left behind - j.zagami j.zagami Nov 30, 2012
  • Having moved past the fit of giggles induced by Damian's comment above ("Despite the unfortunate connotations of the name ( http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mook"), I have to say that Massive Open Online Courses appear to me to be the huge deal-changers for all of us this year that tablets were when we were doing our survey of the landscape for last year's Horizon Report Higher Education edition. Mainstream media reps (including The New York Times--check out the article "The Year of the Mooc," published on November 2, 2012 and at least two others on the same topic in the same publication this month alone), education writers (great, thought-provoking interview--"MOOCs on the Move: How Coursera Is Disrupting the Traditional Classroom"--in the November 7, 2012 issue of the online "Knowledge @ Wharton" newsletter), and thoughtful bloggers (William Weitzer's "Making the Most of MOOCs" November 20, 2012 posting on Higher Ed Mash Up is just one of many accessible examples) are among those chronicling the interesting and exciting state of this learning technology. Colleagues' comments here in the wiki discussion also suggest a great path for us to follow: one that takes an and-and approach (onsite and online learning rather than onsite or online learning; formal facilitated-learning and the less grade-based experience of those who take part of the course without necessarily seeing completion as the goal rather than completion or non-completion as diametrically-opposed options) rather than an either-or approach. My own work in workplace learning and performance (staff training) projects with a variety of clients as well as my own ongoing formal (academic-based) and informal (as simple as participating in onsite learning opportunities and webinars) learning experiences, furthermore, show me that the more we seek possibilities in blended learning in all its possibilities (onsite and online, synchronous and asynchronous, structured learning opportunities and extremely informal learning opportunities through discussion groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and numerous other platforms), the more effective we're going to be in meeting the needs of our current learners and those we look forward to working with in the months and years to come. And these Massive Open Online Courses seem to be options that we should be exploring with an eye toward making them as effective, engaging, and far-reaching as we can rather than waiting to see how they play out while our learners leave us behind.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • Ideas I've been batting around: MOOCs will primarily disrupt non-elite institutions. At least in the short term, people will continue to want the credentials from elite schools. Meanwhile, many of the students admitted to elite schools are the ones most likely to be able to self-educate. (At least, they've preformed well on tests and show that they know how to make good grades.) So, the very schools that might be most threatened might be schools that have students that need more contact. So the disruption might be less significant in those schools than initially thought. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Dec 2, 2012
  • MOOCS (such as edX) not only provide learning experiences at an unprecedented scale but usher in new opportunities for innovation -- in how learning experiences are produced, where learning happens, how it is assessed and credentialed. They allow us to envision more profound structural changes in the relationship between individuals, institutions and learning and ultimately in the economics of education.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012
  • Also seeDaniel, J. (2012) Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility Seoul: www.tonybates.ca/wp-content/uploads/Making-Sense-of-MOOCs.pdf - vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Like most massively disruptive technologies, they won't at first eat into the traditional business model of universities. If you look at the demographics of most MOOC students, you will find people who would not be going to college. That's the biggest immediate impact. A secondary effect will be a tremendous amount of data generated on how people learn. This will allow better assessment tools to be created, and allow more effective iteration of the MOOCs themselves. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Nov 26, 2012
  • Failure to respond to the challenge that MOOCs represent will be our worst enemy - if we watch and wait too long, like the music and publishing industries before us, we may find it is too late to do anything useful about them. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 27, 2012 Ditto to what Damian says in his comment here- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • MOOCS don't run smoothly. The technical issues of managing thousands of students trying to access discussion forums, team pairing boards and the like are a current challenge. Also, there is increasing conversation about the whole issue of 'credit'. What will this look like in the future if the popularity and legitimacy of this platform continues to grow? - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012
  • The situations for which MOOCs are useful directly depend on the audience being impacted. Certainly, MOOCs provide access for learning to a wide array of people who have high speed connections. However, we shouldn't confuse access to learning with engaged learning. Should universities (or high schools for that matter) begin to replace traditional classes with MOOC attendance? Universities who partner with MOOCs are certainly able to better get their "brand" out to a wide audience, but reach doesn't equate education, and it certainly doesn't automatically translate to learning. MOOCs offer opportunities to augment traditional learning experiences, but I think we need to consider the audience and purpose(s) to which MOOCs are best suited. They are not a brush that we can use to repaint the canvas of secondary and higher education, in the hopes that it will serve as a remedy to fix imperfections in what is arguably a troubled educational system.- jasonr jasonr Nov 28, 2012
  • Are there second order MOOC effects? What if an separate organisation supplemented or even designed whole courses using other university's MOOC based components? While this may seem unfair, it's possible that in some locations where direct access to some learning isn't possible, local courses could be supplemented in this way - bringing benefit to students by adding a component of supervision and support, and by complementing local learning with that from MOOCs.- Gavin Gavin Nov 28, 2012
  • One very significant issue with MOOC's is that they often go beyond the fair use copyright exemptions for universities, as well as other content licensing arrangements such as academic papers, and open MOOC convenors up to the world of litigation, including all of those associated with reproduction of images and video in course materials. - j.zagami j.zagami Nov 30, 2012 An article about OER and MOOC's, relevant to this posting - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Dec 2, 2012
  • Some administrations may not see MOOCs in the same light as they see academic producing other works such as course materials, textbooks and academic papers, and seek to commercialise the intelectual property rights they hold over MOOC material in a discriminatory way to their enforcement of other IP works by academics. - j.zagami j.zagami Nov 30, 2012 Definitely agree on this issue - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Dec 2, 2012
  • It should also be noted that at least two of the services provide free courses, they are not open in the sense it is commonly used in the open education community where I would argue, the open in MOOC came from. We need a more refined vocabulary/taxonomy and really the base of this the online course. I recently saw MOOCs as described as the super-sizing of education. There is too little discussion that MOOCs have translated a formula of primarily lecture with some extras to huge size and online, and it same time in the face to face classroom there has been a increasing pressure to make even the large classes "active". There is a disconnect that should be addressed. MOOCs may address access to educational content and issues of cost, but they do address the increasing understanding of how to make an educational opportunity more effective. - alanwolf alanwolf Dec 2, 2012
  • Understanding how/place-based learning can leverage and benefit from learnings from MOOCs- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research, or creative inquiry?

  • Some on-line higher [[#|education programs]] will be taking a close look at the technologies and designs of MOOCs to see how they are able to provide feedback to students at scale. In many cases, MOOC platforms seem to be realizing ideas that have been in development for a while, such as calibrated peer review and smart discussion boards that combine similar questions and permit students to use social voting/rating systems to identify key topics. - allan.gyorke allan.gyorke Nov 21, 2012
  • This is a global scale method of learning. That will have profound impacts on the overall standard of living worldwide because ideas can be spread so rapidly. If you couple it with realtime translation software, I expect to see classes of a million people of more in just a few years. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Nov 26, 2012
  • Philosophically speaking, I am in favour of free courses providing education to all who desire it, which is a wonderful ideal to which to aspire. However, in the capitalist society in which we live and work, we need to be aware that somebody somewhere will have to pay at some point. There is no such thing as a free education.- damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Nov 27, 2012 I think this is really worth noting. In many of the MOOCs case, I suspect that in reality, we will come down seeing it as being paid for by marketing money, but if it becomes something different, it will be paid for somewhere. - lauren.pressley lauren.pressley Dec 2, 2012 Of course funding is definitely required to develop MOOC resources, but I think the cost per person benefited is very low compared to many other traditional forms of education. Meaning that this mode of education scales very very well. Some of the "innovative" assessment methods employed by MOOC instructors, including peer assessment, does not increase the manpower/cost requirements drastically as the number of students go up. - hnmok hnmok Dec 2, 2012
  • Many people in developed countries do not have fair access to learning, and many across the world in emerging nations may also have limited access. There may be a bigger loss by not embracing new models of learning such through MOOCs - Gavin Gavin Nov 28, 2012
  • World class educational access to the young, poor, under-served rural citizens of the world who are starved for quality education. Sites like Coursera and Venture-Lab are like a literal candy store for those who love to learn. - deborah.heal deborah.heal Nov 27, 2012
  • Many MOOCs are transforming into learning communities post course and this may be a natural and progressive trend, and may become the most valuable aspects of MOOCSs. With an expectation becoming established, paid courses may also come under pressure to also offer ongoing learning opportunities. - j.zagami j.zagami Nov 30, 2012
  • As so many colleagues in this discussion have noted, there are a variety of impacts to consider and help shape, not the least of which are business impacts on education, learning results produced through the availability of MOOCs--particularly as they can be a way of augmenting what is offered in formal grade-based academic settings--and increased opportunities to foster collaboration among learners as well as improved online interactions between those whose courses are offered and those who move toward greater levels of educational interactions after being introduced to a topic through MOOCs. And beyond the higher education field in which we're playing, there is the direct connection to be made between current learners in academic settings and learners in workplace environments. If we don't effectively prepare our learners for the online learning environments they're finding in contemporary workplaces, we're missing long-term collaborative possibilities that are increasingly becoming important as learners take advantage of formal academic offerings and workplace learning and performance offerings throughout their entire lives.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 2, 2012
  • The involvement of prestigious institutions in collaborative projects like Coursera is driving interest by other institutions afraid of being left behind on this. Once mechanisms for offering these courses for credit gain acceptance MOOCs have the potential of transforming higher ed. - billshewbridge billshewbridge Dec 1, 2012
  • A key impact that I think the MOOCs (and the hype around them) are having is to reinvigorate a look a blended/hybrid learning on campuses and the pedagogic models that can be used with them such as flipped classrooms, emporium, etc.) I think this is not to be underestimated even when the majority of current MOOCs are not xMOOCs (such as the original CA ones). In fact the low interactivity of a lot of the current batch of MOOCs is a spur for greater interactivity. [[user:Nick|1354506280] Yes . ~~ And in this regard it is also important to understand how online experiences can be made better/optimal for different disciplines; how distributed communities / self-organized groups can be leveraged; How to Provide the right kinds of scaffolding to support optimal student learning?- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
  • The MOOC model is still in an extremely rudimentary stage - most of the MOOC courses are (as noted by several people above) minimally interactive, and mimic or exacerbate the weaknesses of large lecture courses. They also make minimal use of the rich creative toolset available on any laptop or tablet today. Exceptions and other models exist - see Jim Groom's DS106 - http://ds106.us - and the Semester Online consortium http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/education/duke-northwestern-to-offer-semester-online-classes.html . However, the concern for "settling" into models that perpetuate poor or ineffectual classroom practices remains, particularly given the scale incentives. - rubenrp rubenrp Dec 3, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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