Match 7 - 11 was Open Education Week. This was news to me. Even participating in a post-secondary program focused on online learning and teaching this event passed without recognition or even notice. That in itself is testimony to how important such events are to increase awareness of the open education movement.
One aspect of open education that was seen to have much promise was MOOCs (Masive Open Online Courses.) These courses, offered free to any individual, anywhere, with access to a computer and Internet connection originated in Canada.,The Pedagogy Of MOOCs reports that the first was rolled out in 2007.. The goal was to reach as many people as possible, measured by the number of students enrolled.
This makes one pause to consider the pedagogy of MOOCs. Face-to-face instruction values small class size. Would servicing larger number of students in an online setting sacrifice the quality of the instruction? In an environment where students have access to online articles, videos, discussion forums, and video conferencing with professors, experts and peers, should MOOCs be presented in a different manner than classes in brick and mortar setting? How should assessment look?
I liked how Dave Cormier presented a simple, yet comprehnsive plan for success in his video: Orient, declare, network, cluster and focus.
But even following this plan, will all students be successful? Dropout rates for MOOCs are notoriously high. Why is this? Are they not valued because they are free? Are students who are familiar with traditional learning models unprepared for an online learning experience? Are the selected platforms for delivering instruction poorly designed or not being utilized to their full potential?
In her video Koller presents many of the advantages of MOOCs such as those in Coursera. These include making it accessible to anyone regardless of their financial circumstances, large peer groups being able to help problem-solve in a timely manner through forums, easing the burden of grading through automated marking and peer assessment and the ability to review material whenever and however often the student likes.
In his article Bates argues that MOOCs have not been successful in providing higher education to the intended underprivileged population because many of the people in this demographic do not have access to computers or the Internet and the certificates granted by Coursera and other MOC providers are largely unrecognized. Bates states that MOOCs remain a " second class form of education."
Bates also argues that the predominantly behaviourist pedagogy of most Coursera courses is obsolete. He also points out that Koller's camparisons to face-to-face instruction are limited to lecture models and don't take into account the inovative practices that many educators are using in their classrooms today.
In his article Legon questions the quality of many MOOCs. He states that because many MOOCs afre being delivered by experts in the field it is being taken as a given that the content and delivery would be of a high quality. "This assumed connection between content expertise and a mature grasp of the challenges of online teaching, however, has not been demonstrated in MOOCs." (Legon 2013) Transferring a lecture-based program to a digital platform simply isn't effective and being an expert on a certain topic doesn't necessarily equate to being able to deliver instruction on that topic effectively.
The next generation of MOOCs (MOOC 2.0) are focusing more on instructional design . One example is NovoEd. Amin Saberi, a Stanford professor is quoted as saying "With this transition from brick-and-mortar classes to online learning, you shouldn’t lose the social, collaborative aspects of learning, It should be able to enable it."
I feel that while MOOCs have extraordinary potential, they will not be the solution to the problem of educating the masses until more thought is given to instructional design, all students have equal access to technology and the Internet and the learning is recognized by on-ground institutions.
Bates, Tony. Online and Learning and Distance Education Resources. What’s right and what’s wrong about Coursera-style MOOCs. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/08/05/whats-right-and-whats-wrong-about-coursera-style-moocs/ (10 June 2016)
Cormeir, Dave. Success in a Mooc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8avYQ5ZqM0
Koller, Daphne: What we're learning from online education. http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education. June 2012.
Legon, Ronald. Inside Higher Ed. MOOCs and the Quality Question. 2013. REtrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/04/25/moocs-do-not-represent-best-online-learning-essay (10 JUne 2106)
New, Jake. Chronicle of Higher Education. New MOOC Provider Says It Fosters Peer Interaction. 2013. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/new-mooc-provider-says-it-fosters-peer-interaction/43381 (10 JUne 2017)
Stacey, Paul. edtechfrontier.com. The Pedagogy og MOOCs. May 11, 2013