The cancellation “temporary suspension” of Coursera’s Fundamentals of Online Education course is a watershed moment in the rapidly growing world of MOOCs. Inside Higher Ed has summarized the problems which befell the course and led to suspension, and a number of course participants have documented their experiences, displeasure and ideas for potential fixes (Debbie Morrison’s experience, chronicled on her blog Online Learning Insights, was the first on the scene, and subsequent artifacts continue to arrive, such as the #foemooc Twitter feed). There are many questions on a structural level, such as why a course with an enrollment of 40K would utilize a service such as Google Documents, which limits docs to 50 simultaneous users. These are the questions most likely to be asked and answered in the dominant narrative…when if Coursera discusses it in the media or on their site (as of publication, Coursera had no notice or explanation of the suspension on their page; rather, the course is listed as upcoming), they will likely focus on the structural shortcomings and their structural fixes. There are other considerations and potential questions to put in the forum as well:
1) The partnership between the California State University system (San Jose State University to be specific) and MOOC provider Udacity allows a credit-based output for MOOC enrollment. This is despite a lack of accreditation for Udacity, a for-profit enterprise producing curricular materials. One could say it is the responsibility of the scholastic institution to assure quality control, and that would be true in conventional academia…but the narrative in society is not about San Jose State University doing great things in their utilization of a resource such as Udacity, but instead about Udacity changing education as we know it, and that change is implied as for the better. Continue reading →
In a video interview with Forbes magazine, Sal Khan worked through a history of education, starting with an industrial view of the classroom experience (which Khan calls the Prussian model) and ending with Internet-based personalized learning such as his Khan Academy.
From this perspective, education has the potential to evolve from an age-defined small cohort model to a capability-defined infinite system where the individual is not restrained by the relative progress of others. Following that thread, such a system could not only change the dynamic of the classroom, but could reinvent the classroom, or even remove the bricks and mortar classroom altogether. Such potential greatly benefits students, according to this perspective.
Keeping up with MOOC thoughts via Twitter (as best I can):
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and MOOCs: From September 19, Audrey Watters looks at reasons behind some colleges (quoting Ohio State University) adopting the xMOOC as a course module and potential revenue stream; the quote from the OSU president states that he does not want his school to end up too far behind the other schools involved in xMOOCs such as Coursera. This is a theme that has popped up occasionally over the past 12 months…institutions are afraid to be left behind and perhaps rendered irrelevant in a xMOOC world. I wonder if there were similar fears when correspondence courses started incorporating radio and video all those years ago. Continue reading →
A lot of the research I have found on distance education comes from Otto Peters. In a 1967 writing on Industrialization & Distance Ed, Peters echoes Annand in saying that educative practices have not changed in hundreds of years, despite the rest of the world undergoing the Industrial Revolution. Peters does not specifically call for industrializing education, but he says it needs to be considered relative to cost effectiveness and access options. Continue reading →
I should have known David Annand’s 2007 article on reorganizing universities for the information age would be a challenging read based on the keywords: Industrialization, Fordism, Luddites. Annand, a professor at Athabasca University (home of cMOOC innovators George Siemens & Stephen Downes), wrote about the changes he saw necessary in the digital age of higher education. His literature review, theoretical foundation and arguments ran in a direction I did not expect, calling into questions some of the beliefs I had built in my quest to define MOOC. Finding resistance, I am going to dive deep into the writing to see where the differentiation is and why. Continue reading →
One of my research curiosities is on the development of the cMOOC versus the Udacity-like MOOC. Both go by MOOC, but the methodology, impetus and learning theory behind each seems vastly different. Seeing is one thing, however; this is about research. An earlier blog post pointed to distance education as a place to see the evolution of MOOC learning theory, specifically for the Udacity-like MOOC, as the cMOOCs label themselves under constructivist measures. But there is dissent within distance ed circles in regards to its place in the evolution of online learning. Continue reading →