Tag Archives: economics


Coursera announced this week the addition of a Career Services department for students in the organization.  According to the website, students who opt-in for the program will submit a resume and other information to the site, which will be viewable by selected partner companies.  From Andrew Ng, one of the founders of Coursera:

This is a relatively uncontroversial business model that most of our university partners are excited about.

Controversy is in the eye of the viewer, so Ng’s quote may or may not be accurate depending on the onlooker.  That said, many in the educational field (here, here and here, to name a few) have openly wondered how MOOCs will make money (in part to provide ROI for the venture capital backing them), so movements toward a revenue stream deserve more than lip service. Continue reading

Reviewing Christensen’s Disruptive Technologies (Harvard Business Review, 1995) in MOOC Terms

One of the common citations in xMOOC artifacts and discussion is the idea of xMOOC as a disruptive technology.  The concept, developed by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen, is tossed into discussion as if it’s vital reading I should already know…none of the authors do more than give a cursory definition to the concept in abstract fashion rather than concrete, and in all of the articles I have read, I don’t see consensus on the definition.  This makes me think several possibilities:  1) this is a concept so integral to this field that I should know all about it and am an idiot for not having a foundational knowledge, or 2) this is a concept not fully understood but thrown out there in a way that sounds erudite but lacks foundation.  I think it’s a mix of both.  As a learner struggling to grasp a topic (my background is in both media and social sciences, not business), the best way is to personally dive in rather than rely on the previews of others.  At the same time, it took those previews to get here, so perhaps this review can help others start to nail out a more complete definition on the topic.   Continue reading

Firing at the MOOC Moving Target

I sit down at my computer on Monday morning to see what folks wrote about re: MOOCs over the weekend.  And herein lies the problem in trying to define a learning trend/model/phenomenon/hysteria:

  • Michael Feldstein wrote a thorough engagement of LMS companies such as Instructure throwing their hats into the higher ed MOOC fray.  Feldstein continued to look at the MOOC movement in terms of disruptive innovation, and while in the article he questions that approach, dominant ideology of the time (or at least dominant media narrative) links MOOC to the theory of Christensen, so I’m going to need to go back to that one.
  • The New York Times wrote an article with the inflated title The Year of the MOOC.  The article pays very little lip service to the MOOC movement prior to Seb Thrun and 2011, continuing the media narrative that MOOCs pretty much fell out of the sky at that time, though a few people were dabbling around some years before.   Continue reading

MOOC Pedagogy – Waiting for Big Data?

I’m in a constant search to find documented discussion of the pedagogy behind the various MOOC iterations. cMOOCs are not so hard; they are borne of distance education and most adhere to connectivism, which is a pedagogical approach in my opinion, a learning theory in the opinions of others. xMOOCs are much more difficult; due to their newness there is little scholarly data on the model, and the creators have not shown as much interest in describing existing pedagogy as in stamping this model as the future of higher education (#cfhe12). Nicholas Carr notes that part of the reason for gathering learning analytics from the courses is to improve pedagogy: (xMOOCs) hope to build large behavioral data bases that can then be mined for pedagogical insights.

Continue reading

Social Learning in Independent Spaces?

I recently posted a response to a research paper by Terry Anderson which looked at the various modes of interaction across learning platforms and spaces.  Among the important and interesting notes was Anderson’s assertion that high quality learning could happen if one of three interactions (student-student, student-teacher or student-content) was of a high quality, regardless of the quality of the other two.  Yet in my reading of Anderson’s work, I saw him continue to discuss student-student interactions with great importance, moreso than he gave to student-teacher or student-content.  This ties into some existing learning theory popular today, most notably social learning theory (though, to be general, the Canadians like to call it social cognition) via Bandura (and Vygotsky’s social development theory). Continue reading

MOOC Revenues: Does MOOC = University of Phoenix?

From a Chronicle of Higher Education article looking at potential ways MOOC-affiliated universities (the article defines MOOC as what scholars would call xMOOC) could benefit financially through the MOOC affiliation, an interesting and snippy comment about MOOCs and the University of Phoenix:

Ms. Koller insists that the courses the company is offering differ fundamentally from those at the University of Phoenix. “Their online effort is really traditional teaching mediated by the computer as opposed to using the tech in a fundamental way,” she argues. “There’s no economies of scale there. What we’re doing is one instructor, 50,000 students. This is the way to bend the cost curves.” Continue reading

MOOCenomics – “the inputs of education trump the outputs of education”

Great insight in David Touve’s Inside Higher Ed article looking at the contradictions of the MOOC world, namely in the difference between taking coursework from a MOOC-affiliated institution and receiving a degree from such a place (while Touve’s examples come from what we would call xMOOCs, cMOOCs are not transient for credit at other institutions).  Touve looks at it like a syllogism:  If MOOCs such as edX stress the rigor of their courses is on par with those offered by affiliated institutions, but if edX only offers a certificate and offers no credit toward a degree, then the most important variable in receiving a degree is getting into the school, or what you do prior to engaging in the coursework.   Continue reading