Learning Futures
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Learning Futures
Learning Futures
Trends and forecasts for learning in a digital age
Curated by Cathy Ellis
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Rescooped by Cathy Ellis from Networked Learning - MOOCs and more

Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman’s ‘Revolution Hits the Universities’ | Kris Olds -Inside Higher Ed

Memo to Trustees re: Thomas Friedman’s ‘Revolution Hits the Universities’ | Kris Olds -Inside Higher Ed | Learning Futures | Scoop.it

"In short, there are political and economic machinations associated with the stirring of interest in, and coverage of, MOOCs. Given this, and given the stakes at hand, it is important to address the MOOCs phenomenon is a serious, sustained, and reflective way, not in a knee jerk fashion, one way or the other."

Via Peter B. Sloep
Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, February 14, 2013 6:50 AM

This is an article I failed to notice when it came out, January 27th 2013, but still it is well worth mentioning. It was prompted by an article by Thomas Friedman ("The World is Flat") in the New York Times (http://tiny.cc/jyvhsw) and by a Moody's report on MOOCs (cf. http://tiny.cc/dsvhsw). Kris Olds tries to put some realism into the overly enthusiastic reports on MOOCs that have appeared, particulary the one by Friedman.


First, he argues, the upscaling that MOOCs promise is less simple than Friedman suggests: the world is not flat but spiky, with lots of differences between people in their ability to actually take a MOOC (technical, in terms of learning capabilities). Second, the investments needed to set up a MOOC are high, even though the running costs may be low. So not everybody will be able to develop a MOOC. And finally, MOOCs have become part of a political discussion, with their potential to cut costs and thus lower public university funding, which in turn means less taxes. MOOCs thus are a politized platform, and indeed they are. But they are not just so in an economic sense. As I have argued earlier elsewhere (http://tiny.cc/e4uhsw), they are also subject to political debate in view of their capacity to upset the philosphy that underlies our higher education system. MOOCs have the potential to turn higher education into a commodity, a private good, subjected to the laws of the market economy. That is a revolution indeed, considering that at present higher education is a public good, depending on where you live fully or in part. (@pbsloep)

Paulo Moekotte's comment, February 18, 2013 2:41 PM
Dear Peter,

I guess the way xMOOCs are developing substantiates Olds' points with regard to the economical perspective and tendency to commodify HigherEd through this kind of distribution models of learning. But let's not forget that the aspect of increasing accessibility and affordability of learning is still a favorable option in a lot of developing countries. Therefore extending education to those in need but hard to reach, should not be dismissed lightly.
A political discussion about costs and new distribution models that could possibly compete with traditonal institutions and educational means in developed countries however troubles the discussion, and could endanger the societal goals of equality and social mobility that have longtime spurred public education.

The discussion about costs has been led for more than ten years in the US, mainly corroborated by the longstanding and succesful projects and work of Carol Twigg concerning large-enrollment introductory courses and the use of technology (i.e. Program in Course Redesign).

Nevertheless, cMOOCs originate and operate from a different, more community driven angle and altruistic, not for profit perspective. Taken connectivisme serious would mean that models and initiatives we've known for a longer time, like the OER-model of the Rice university (the openstaxcollege for example) would be less depend on institutions and more community driven. Developing and sustaining OER-models is a costly affair and not something that publicly funded institutions can keep on doing forever.

So what's new about the cMOOCs when looking at the 'older' OER-models? And should we favor cMOOC's over xMOOCs? Or can both models co-exist? And where do the control of the quality of content and delivery and the accreditation of outcomes step in? Still a lot of questions that remain to be answered.
Rescooped by Cathy Ellis from MOOC's and disruptive learning

Tony Bates: What’s right and what’s wrong about Coursera-style MOOCs

Tony Bates: What’s right and what’s wrong about Coursera-style MOOCs | Learning Futures | Scoop.it

Daphne Koller, one of the two founders of Coursera, describes some of the key features of the Coursera MOOCs, and the lessons she has learned to date about teaching and learning from these courses. The video is well worth watching, just for this.

Via Dennis T OConnor, Mari Carmen Martin
Dennis T OConnor's curator insight, January 10, 2013 12:44 PM

This quote from Tony Bates sets an interesting stage for Koller's Ted Talk on Coursera.

"However I’m probably going to suffer the same kind of fate of the Russian female punk band, Pussy Riot, by spitting on the altar of MOOCs, but this TED talk captures for me all that is both right and wrong about the MOOCs being promoted by the elite US universities. Let me start by saying that I actually applaud Daphne Koller and her colleagues for developing massive open online MOOCs. Any attempt to make the knowledge of some of the world’s leading experts available to anyone free of charge is an excellent endeavour. If only it stopped there. What I object to is the hubris and misleading claims that are evident in this TED video. As someone once said about one of Sigmund Freud’s lectures, what is new is not true, and what is true is not new. -

Piet Kommers's curator insight, January 27, 2013 3:36 PM

Where is the servant leadership that forsters learners to identify and stimulate ambitions?

Rescooped by Cathy Ellis from MOOCs and FE

The MOOC in Further Education Colleges – distraction or lever for change? | Learning Futures Lab | Cathy Ellis

"When not one, but two, Government Ministers start dropping the word ‘MOOC’ into their speeches and tweets, should those of us working in the field of Educational Technology be encouraged or worried? And, furthermore, when part of the rationale for such support is that British education is now part of the Coalition Government’s 2012 Industrial Strategy and some of the collective rhetoric comes close to a chauvinistic claim for the superiority of the British education system, then we seem to be entering into a global skirmish to put a competitive British MOOC into cyberspace."

Via Peter B. Sloep, Cathy Ellis
Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, January 27, 2013 3:30 PM

This extensive and well-argued article takes an unusual stance in that it focusses on Further Education Colleges. Indeed, such a focus is badly needed as MOOCs and FE at first sight seem natural allies. And although the post is UK centric, it is well worth reading.


Cathy Ellis' argument consists of five points. Her first point, lack of funding on formal grounds, sounds specific to the UK, although others might recognise it. Her second is an interesting one, as it goes a long way towards explaining the success of MOOCs: "In the era of YouTube and TED, the ‘teacher as performer’ has taken root, and academics who would previously have stayed in their dusty lecture halls are now clamouring to be on stage. This has bred the era of the ‘rock star’ or ‘celebrity academic’ ...." This leads her to suggest to "Do your own TED-events and create your own YouTube channel".


Third, she advises against 'offshore' MOOC providers. A MOOC platform connected to the local VLE has the advantage of churning out useful data. This does not imply we should dismiss the "'industrial' scale MOOCs", they are "like an amplification of Open Educational Resources' and should be thus used, Cathy argues (4). Finally, MOOCs have done their job if their advent "mobilises leadership and policy makers to engage seriously with Educational Technology and support the sector in providing the conditions for it to flourish."


What the article argues for then, is to mainstream MOOCs: We use the technology to inspire our own teaching, we use the 'industrial' platforms and their content as OERs. Makes sense, if the colleges in HE and FE (and elsewhere) manage to survive the MOOC swell. With the "ever growing commodification of education" - Cathy's own words - this is no certainty, as I have argued elsewhere.