Tag Archives: open education

Udacity: Shifting Models Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Just over a year ago (a year and two days, to be exact), Clay Shirky wrote Napster, Udacity & the Academy, one of a few “must-read” articles regarding the MOOC phenomenon.  Shirky built an argument that MOOCs fit the monicker of Christensen’s theory of disruptive technology, doing so by noting the dominant higher education narrative (made up of Ivy League or Tier 1 Research schools) focuses on a small and misleading fraction of the sea of higher education (regional schools, community colleges, for-profit institutions), allowing him to posit that the theory behind the MOOC is proof that higher education can be disrupted:

The possibility MOOCs hold out isn’t replacement; anything that could replace the traditional college experience would have to work like one, and the institutions best at working like a college are already colleges. The possibility MOOCs hold out is that the educational parts of education can be unbundled.

Shirky then links this “unbundled education” (possible for those who cannot afford the “ransom note” of a higher education sticker price) to the potential of a MOOC, noting that, like the musical track unbundled from the CD, learning can be set free from the degree.

The argument Shirky presents is compelling, and was a watershed moment in the MOOC debate, a place where a well-respected Internet scholar seemingly sided with a movement that many practitioners viewed as antithetical to learning and the Open movement.  As an advocate for Open, Shriky’s argument of a collegiate experience grounded in reality and not lofty Ivy stature saw MOOCs as an opportunity to improve that reality, an opportunity for those whom payment was one of the primary hurdles:

MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system.

One year and two days ago, this was the advertised potential of the MOOC movement.  The heavily advertised potential.

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Project Lessons Learned – Iteration 1 of the SJSU/Udacity Pilot

A research-based report of the results of SJSU’s Spring 2013 pilot of lower-level mathematics courses offered via Massive Open Online Course platform (though I do like the term Augmented Online Learning Environment, or AOLE) has arrived — or at least a preliminary version.  Dubbed “Project Lessons Learned” by the research team, the results are pretty much in-line with anecdotal expectations as well as the buzz coming from SJSU:  at-risk students w/o a strong background in higher education or the subject matter fared poorly, while students w/ a strong background in higher education and/or the subject matter did better.  This is not new to those critical of MOOCs as an agent of democratizing global education, and the (for lack of a better term) bellyaching that came from Udacity in regards to student population continues to ring hollow, as globally more students share characteristics with the unsuccessful demographic.

Udacity’s response is also expected, highlighting success and mitigating struggle.

All of this comes in the shadow of Udacity’s private-private education partnership, the Open Education Alliance.  How will Udacity utilize its successes and failures in developing an open education model?  Also, how many more education terms can Udacity co-opt?  The original MOOC definition was for a learning model rather different from today’s cultural understanding of MOOC, and Open Education/Open Access as a theory and practice (with distinct roots in the early part of the century, and a history well before that) does not, at first glance, look like Udacity’s vision.

Making Sense of MOOC Research – Sir John Daniel & the MOOC Tempest

Very recent (read: September 25) research on the MOOC phenomenon by Sir John Daniel, one of the pioneers of open education (#oped12) and distance learning.  A piece that I will return to for my scholarship (as well as pick from for other cited authors), but on first second glance:

  • I appreciate the focus on the xMOOC (still don’t like that term by the way, as it and cMOOC say that these are just two different apples off the same tree, when it’s more like two distinctly different trees ended up in the same forest because two birds delivered seeds from distant lands).  Most published research comes from the cMOOC side of things, making a foray into the MOOC topic difficult, as the Man on the Street would associate MOOC with the sort of thing being done by Harvard, MIT and Stanford. Continue reading

History of Open Education – Why is it All CAI?

In Siemens & McGreal cMOOC Open Education course (##Oped12), there is a link to a history of open education timeline that provides some fodder for education theorists.  The common thread here is a necessity for computer-based technology.  Certainly, without digital communication tools that allow what we today would call the remixing of content, creating work towards an open goal would prove difficult.  But not impossible.   Continue reading