To sign up for Michigan State University’s How to Start Your Own Business, for example, budding entrepreneurs have to pay $79 up front for the first of five courses in the Specialization or prepay $474 for the entire program.
When enrolling in a MOOC on Coursera, learners are normally met with a box asking them if they would like to take it free — giving them access to all the course materials but not awarding a certificate upon completion — or pay $49 for an identity-verified course certificate provided upon completion. Learners can first pick the free option but change their minds later, however.
The question the article asks — how does charging for access fit the mission of access to world’s best education — is a variation on a question that’s been asked for 4+ years now, ever since Coursera, Udacity, edX and others became the go-to mainstream voices on EdTech expertise — what makes these providers the world’s best education besides a mission statement and a platform for PR? David Wiley’s quote from 2013 is the touchstone I remember from that period — MOOC as a concept, to him, was out of the barn and the acronym rather stood for Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash. Continue reading →
Tomorrow (Friday, 3:30pm in White Horse at The Canyons Resort – Park City, UT) I will present the theoretical and practical elements behind the MOOCseum, a learning model I developed in partial fulfillment of my doctoral coursework at Pepperdine University. This project is under consideration for a Waves of Innovation grant at Pepperdine, and I have explored the topic with both the Chief Financial Officer at Pepperdine as well as the director of the Weisman Art Center, an art museum on Pepperdine’s Malibu campus receiving patronage from the Weisman Trust. The development of the learning model is exciting, and so are the trials that have come with putting it into practice at various institutional levels. I look forward to sharing the results!
As a MOOCseum is designed to both mirror the distance education aspect of a MOOC while providing a real-time, event-based learning experience, I have posted a potential MOOCseum learning experience at my home page, rolinmoe.org. The Open Education Conference will film the presentation, and I will link to it at that time. Please join the conversation either in blog comments, Tweets (#MOOCseum), or other potential avenues of social interaction and innovation.
At the heart of the Open Education Resources movement (and the Open movement in general) is the notion that education is a public good. The progression to such sentiment may be based in a notion that an educated citizenry betters democracy and civic life (folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson), or that knowledge and wisdom are non-rivalrous and non-excludable (Econ 101), or that the increase and diffusion of knowledge stimulates societal and cultural growth (James Smithson, John Quincy Adams). Regardless of its germination, the crux of such thought is that the provision of education from an egalitarian lens results in benefit across the population.
At face value the Massive Open Online Course fits this vision: courses are free, prerequisites are encouraged but not enforced, and access to the best professors at the best universities is not bound to geography or economics. And research into the framework of the MOOC points to the opening of university walls, the building of intra- and internet communications and an attempt to promote the increase and diffusion of knowledge for society, whether communal or global. That’s why it’s worth noting that one of the primary voices in OER, David Wiley, sees the 2013 incarnation of MOOCs as a money grab:
I propose that, whenever you hear the acronym MOOC, you think: “Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash”
How can a MOOC be both a bastion for openness and the epitome of closed content? Continue reading →