Yesterday’s Chronicle announcement of the MOOC-related study Preparing for the Digital University (a comprehensive review of distance, blended and online learning funded in part by the Gates Foundation and investigated in part by Athabasca University) created somewhat of a tremor in the social media landscape for those who follow George Siemens (one of the researchers in the study, the point-person for the Chronicle write up, and one of the creators of CCK08, the course that spawned the MOOC acronym) and Stephen Downes (one of the more prevalent and accessible EdTech researchers today, as well as the other primary creator of CCK08, the course that spawned the MOOC acronym). Downes addressed the research study at his website, Siemens and Downes discussed the differences of opinion on Twitter, Downes elucidated his point at his blog, and Siemens responded at his blog.
Every bit of the conversation between the two is worth reading (as well as the Twitter additions from other EdTech-minded individuals). This conversation is a highlighted example of a more and more common conversation happening within this wing of the EdTech world — the *forgotten history* of distance education/online learning and what it means when *we* forget *our* history. Downes points out inefficiencies in the MOOC research Siemens links to (based on the MOOC Research Initiative) due to a lack of familiarity with the richness of the field, and after calling for people to take education back from edtech vendors, Siemens also links to the importance of research and evidence. From this perspective, the problem is ignorance or naivety and the solution is research, research seen here as both an awakening of the shoulders of giants as well as a tool of influence in greater conversations. Continue reading