Tagged: W10A12

Week 10 – Activity 12: Background to MOOCs

Timing: 4 hours

  • Watch this interview in which George Siemens and Dave Cormier are interviewed by Martin Weller about a range of issues concerning MOOCs.
  • Read Liyanagunawardena et al. (2013), MOOCs: A systematic study of the published literature 2008-2012.
  • Choose one article from this collection of MOOC literature: Katy Jordan’s MOOC literature browser. OU PhD student Jordan has collected together a comprehensive set of MOOC research literature.
  • Before we examine MOOCs in more detail, briefly consider if the MOOC approach could be adopted in your own area of education or training. Post your thoughts in your blog and then read and comment on your peers’ postings.


Video – 

What is participation in MOOCs? Traditionally we consider the success as being the completion of the course. However, if someone is following only certain parts of the course, i.e. the daily emails, or only watching the videos, has he/she failed? Do you even have to finish? What if you only want to learn about a certain topic covered in a MOOC?

There is a completely different social contract. As there is no value for money concept anymore. What level should a MOOC be at?

Burnout as instructors is high in MOOCs. There can be so many messages, tweets, and discussions to response to.

What was the benefit of being Open, as appose to just running an online course? One view is that the results of half-baked ideas into full ideas, and these can ends up being better. Another view is that the economies of scale changes.

The internet has allowed a large change in our pedagogical approach. Before, having an open lecture hall might have hosted the same number of people, but there was no way of proper interaction with the lecturer, or harnessing the real benefits of group work,  or any changes in the delivery of materials.

In the case of MITCW, Siemens believes we might be giving them more credit for innovation than they deserve. This is due to them reproducing the classroom model online. However, overall the new class structures, the financial structure, the reach of the courses, etc., has been amazing. This applies to all large MOOC providers at this stage (Coursera, EDx, etc.).

If we consider business models, the M in MOOC needs to be there (at least in most cases, such as a fraction of students paying for a certificate to finance the module). Therefore, we are not aiming at niche subject areas, and potentially mainstreaming content. One solution and wish is that industries/trade organisations begin running their own MOOCs to fill this gap.

If we consider Coursera, EDx etc., we have what seems like knowledge colonisation. Many students from Africa, Latin America, etc. are taking the courses, sometimes offered by their local universities (e.g. UCT in SA). But these universities are fitting into this Western standard mould and not offering anything new. It would be better possibly if the likes of UCT created their own infrastructure instead. It is possibly too soon to be centralising surely.

Where are MOOCs going in the future? Regarding the delivery of content, they can challenge traditional universities, but a massive course will never replicate the in-lab experience of looking through a microscope with your professor next to you. To really recreate the experience.

The individual parts of what MOOCs deliver, such as forums, instant chat, videos, etc. are here to stay, whether they remain under the umbrella of MOOCs or not doesn’t matter. Furthermore, can we bundle all of these together with traditional higher ed. Will we see MOOCs and higher ed come together to benefit society at large?

We need not only to understand MOOCs, but rather research where higher education is going, and what is the role of higher education in society? Has it changed and where is it going?

Readings – both readings for this week have notes on the PDF. The optional reading – MOOCs: What Motivates the Producers and Participants – is particularly relevant to the video.