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The pedagogy of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): the UK view | Siân Bayne and Jen Ross, the Higher Education Academy

The pedagogy of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): the UK view  | Siân Bayne and Jen Ross, the Higher Education Academy | Learning & Mind & Brain | Scoop.it

The report contains four main sections:

• an overview of the current UK MOOC landscape, illustrating the rich and to date rather neglected history of innovation in open course delivery within the UK during the period preceding our engagement with the large MOOC platforms and the launch of FutureLearn;

 

• a literature review which addresses key areas of concern within the current published and grey literatures on MOOC pedagogy and associated contextual issues; here we outline what we see as the most important themes currently driving the MOOC pedagogy debate;

 

• a series of ‘snapshots’ of current UK MOOCs, with an emphasis on looking at the detail of teacher practice, and on approaching the question of MOOC pedagogy from the position of the active teacher-practitioner;

 

• a conclusion which brings together themes from the literature review with the ‘snapshots’ in order to outline what we consider to be the most pressing issues the UK higher education community should be addressing in relation to MOOC pedagogy.


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Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, March 9, 12:26 PM

This is a valuable report, particularly since it doesn’t try to cover everything but focuses on pedagogical issues in particular. Also, the fact that the report limits itself to the UK situation may bother some, but the benefit again is depth. And the UK situation is contrasted with the well-known US MOOC platforms, portraying the UK MOOCs as being European in character. This is exemplified by the pan European OpenupEd platform, which exhibits such European values as equity, quality and diversity. A strong point is the literature review and the in-depth discussion of five exemplary MOOCs. Together, they show that the distinction between cMOOCs and xMOOCs is too simple, meanwhile intermediate and different kinds MOOCs have enriched the MOOC landscape.

 

The report contains a wealth of other interesting facts and views. Although it is of course a mere mark on the developmental timeline of MOOCs, anybody with an interest in their pedagogy should read it. It is time well spent.  @pbsloep

joan gavin's curator insight, March 10, 6:19 AM

Important to remember that MOOCs are designed to give people a "taster" in a particular subject.  They are not intended to replace university degrees.

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A MOOC Delusion: Why Visions to Educate the World Are Absurd | Ghanashyam Sharma - The Chronicle of Higher Education

A MOOC Delusion: Why Visions to Educate the World Are Absurd | Ghanashyam Sharma - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Learning & Mind & Brain | Scoop.it

[…] perhaps the most prominent motivation among professors at prestigious universities for teaching massively open online courses, or MOOCs, is “altruism—a desire to increase access to higher education worldwide.” […] After seven years of being within American academe, first as a graduate student and now as an instructor, I share that desire. […] But I don’t share the delusion that seems to be the basis for the excitement over MOOCs among my colleagues here in the United States. There is a dire need for some healthy skepticism among educators about the idea that MOOCs are a wonderful means to go global in order to do good.

...

As companies advertising their products, providers of MOOC platforms make grandiose claims and present themselves as visionary leaders of a new mode of higher education. As Coursera says in its “Our Vision” section, these leaders, “envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few.” Even more puzzling is the fact that when it comes to the “global” side of the argument, even serious educators seem to easily buy into the hype, perhaps because they are inspired (I almost said “blinded”) by altruism. That is, on general issues of teaching and learning—including curricular design and delivery, student participation and retention, and peer review and assessment—the academic conversation about MOOCs is now extremely rich, critical, and increasingly productive. But the excitement about the unprecedented access that people around the world now have to education from places like Harvard and MIT overshadows what should have been a topic of serious conversation: the intellectual barrier in spite of technological access. The elephant in the room is still invisible.

 

There has been some conversation about this in venues like The Chronicle. One recent Chronicle blog post discussed the “McDonaldization of Higher Education” and an article on InsideHigherEd summarized a few principled objections by researchers of international education. But among academics, there seems to be as yet nothing but the consideration of students around the world as statistical figures. As cited in the latter article, scholars of international education have always warned against “a one-way transfer of educational materials from the rich north to the poor south will amount to a wave of ‘intellectual neo-colonialism.’” But, again, because the MOOC movement is dominated by providers eyeing the world “market” for education, whatever they proclaim to be their motive, their attempts to make MOOCs “accessible” to international learners goes to show that they are either ignorant or unwilling to acknowledge geopolitical dynamics that shape learning experience on a global scale.


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Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, July 18, 2013 3:41 AM

Using himself as an example, Ghanashyam Sharma then points out how local courses are, how much culture is silently presupposed and therefore, how difficult it is to have one particular course cater for a worldwide audience: '… students in other parts of the world have their “own realities,” their “own context and culture.” It would be absurd to ignore how significantly those realities shape students’ participation in our virtual classrooms.'  If you are not convinced, read the discussion that follows the article. There Ghanashyam Sharma points out how his argument holds even for a computer science course and biologist Raymond Richie chimes in with examples from biology. Highly recommended! (@pbsloep)

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MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education | Li Yuan & Stephen Powell - JISC CETIS publications

MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education | Li Yuan & Stephen Powell - JISC CETIS publications | Learning & Mind & Brain | Scoop.it

This report sets out to help decision makers in higher education institutions gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and trends towards greater openness in higher education and to think about the implications for their institutions. The phenomena of MOOCs are described, placing them in the wider context of open education, online learning and the changes that are currently taking place in higher education at a time of globalisation of education and constrained budgets. The report is written from a UK higher education perspective, but is largely informed by the developments in MOOCs from the USA and Canada. A literature review was undertaken focussing on the extensive reporting of MOOCs through blogs, press releases as well as openly available reports. This identified current debates about new course provision, the impact of changes in funding and the implications for greater openness in higher education. The theory of disruptive innovation is used to help form the questions of policy and strategy that higher education institutions need to address.


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Peter B. Sloep's comment, March 25, 2013 9:57 AM
You are right, pity that cMOOCs have not been included as their inclusion would have significantly widened the range of possible outcome scenarios. Still, in defence of the authors, I don't think they set out to cover cMOOCs as well as these are not seen as threatening to HE as it is now.
suifaijohnmak's comment, March 25, 2013 10:08 AM
Yes, I agreed fully with your view :)
verstelle's curator insight, March 26, 2013 3:58 PM

Thorough report from the Brittish JISC/CETIS. 

Many of the reported is not new for those who follow MOOC developments but it is worth reading e.g. for these conclusions:

 

"...there is a significant question for higher education institutions to address: are online teaching innovations, such as MOOCs, heralding a change in the business landscape that poses a threat to their existing models of provision of degree courses? [...] If this is the case, then the theory of disruptive 

innovation suggests that there is a strong argument for establishing an autonomous business unit in order to make an appropriate response to these potentially disruptive innovations"

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The attack of the MOOCs | The Economist, Higher Education

The attack of the MOOCs | The Economist, Higher Education | Learning & Mind & Brain | Scoop.it

An army of new online courses is scaring the wits out of traditional universities. But can they find a viable business model?


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Gabi Witthaus's curator insight, August 22, 2013 4:04 AM

Good commentary by Peter Sloep: "This concise article contains little news for those who keep up to date on MOOC developments. However, it still is useful in that it only takes on the question of whether (higher) education with MOOCs can be turned into a viable business. This is revealing, both in that the Economist concludes that the verdict is still out on that question and in that no single sentence is devoted to the question of whether this is a good idea in the first place." (@pbsloep)

 

I suppose it is The Economist, after all...

drsmetty's curator insight, August 25, 2013 7:26 AM

Offering MOOC's... a “lemming-like rush”? Interesting metaphor.

Fiona Harvey's curator insight, September 21, 2013 7:16 AM

Business models are appearing - Coursera announced this week that they have made $1million on their Signature track (although this pales into insignificance against their investors $66 million) Better than nothing though!  Interesting article though. 

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The MOOC as Three Kinds of Learning Management System | Justin Reich - EdTech Researcher, blog

Coursera describes itself as a "education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free." … If Coursera is selling courseware to universities, what exactly are they selling?


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Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, June 2, 2013 5:12 AM

Justin Reich then uses a taxonomy of learning management systems (LMSs) pioneered by John Richards (http://tiny.cc/wjj1xw) to clarify the question he asks. I must admit that the distinctions he makes are not entirely clear to me, but this is how I understand them. The first kind is your typical LMS (or VLE in the UK?), a platform for course development, such as Moodle or Blackboard. To me, they are an example of a  substitutive technology, they provide alternative means of doing what people used to do already. As the name Blackboard aptly illustrates, traditional LMSs by and large conserve lecture-based teaching in classes, and only add alternative means to make learning materials available and add additional communication channels. The second kind Justin describes are self-contained online courses, with PLATO as an example (for those who still know this system). Here, there's no need for a teacher, they allow for fully independent learning, and to the user the technology (platform) and content blend seamlessly. This is an example of a transformative technology as it upsets dominant modes of teaching and learning. The third kind, which Justin dubs a digital teaching platform, sits in the middle: "This is a learning management system that is pre-populated with content and learning objects, but designed to be used by students in a classroom with a teacher." The punch line is that Coursera (and presumably the other MOOC providers too) are trying to be all three at the same time. Although this is new, Justin wonders whether such a hardly focused strategy will work. 

 

My understanding of what Coursera cs are trying to do is different, though. To me, MOOC providers are essentially providers of a technological platform (compare a 2011 blog post by George Siemens - http://tiny.cc/8mm1xw - who discusses a similar notion). They provide a comprehensive and consolidated set of tools and technologies that not only afford a hopefully first-class user experience to the student but also take the dull logistic work out of the hands of the course providing professors and school (but see my blog post on the responsibilities MOOC providers could and should assume - http://tiny.cc/u8m1xw). In my perception then, Coursera cs best match the third kind in Justin's classification.

 

So the question is not so much whether Coursera cs will fail because of a lack of focus, but rather whether in the way we have organised our educational system there is room for such platforms. It seems to me that given the socio-political situation, in the USA there is whereas in continental Europe there isn't; or, put differently, that MOOCs will take a different form on both continents. The recent launch of a MOOC initiative by the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), backed by the European Commission, seems to support this view (http://tiny.cc/2en1xw). (@pbsloep)

timokos's comment, June 4, 2013 5:05 AM
I agree that there is a completely different socio-political system in the USA and Europe, but I'm not sure if the OpunUpEd initiative will be able to compete with the reputation of the universities that have partnered with Coursera c.s. I wouldn't be surprised if Coursera tries the same strategy in Europe with lesser ranked universities (just as with their deal with the 9 State System Universities in the USA)
Peter B. Sloep's comment, June 5, 2013 7:29 AM
I am not sure about Coursera's business strategy. However, playing the elite university card has much more traction in the US and presumably many developing countries than it does in Europe, which has a more egalitarian educational system, France and the UK perhaps excepted.
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Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee | TechCrunch

Coursera Takes A Big Step Toward Monetization, Now Lets Students Earn “Verified Certificates” For A Fee | TechCrunch | Learning & Mind & Brain | Scoop.it

"Coursera today unveiled its next phase and what will likely be its most significant source of revenue: Verified certificates. Students who take a course on its platform will now be able to earn “Verified Certificates” for a small fee. The new option, called Signature Track, is available on a course-by-course basis and is designed to provide verification for the work students complete on its platform, giving value to that work in the form of the startup’s first foray into credentialing. The certificate, however does not include credit toward a degree program, it simply aims to give them a more meaningful way to prove that they’ve completed the course."


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Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, January 9, 2013 11:08 AM

After their deal with the Amercian Council of Education, which was targeted towards awarding credits for courses, this is Coursera's next step, aimed at certification only. So the barebones of a business model are becoming apparent. (@ pbsloep)