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We're All to Blame for MOOCs

We're All to Blame for MOOCs | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Professors are deeply invested in the logic leading to massive open online courses and are ill-prepared to argue against them.

Via Smithstorian
timokos's insight:

The homogenization of higher education will lead to a Mass Market with a few dominant players like IKEA or Wallmart. For all others it is "time to "get big or get out" — or, better put, "get online or get an identity", as Smithsonian put it so bluntly.

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Smithstorian's curator insight, June 5, 2013 7:51 PM

Innovation cheerleaders and flat-worlders like Thomas Friedman and Clay Shirky are very excited, for they have seen the future of academe, and it consists of MOOCs. They happily envision open and affordable online access to dynamic, learned professors—the kind once available only to students paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition at places like Harvard and Stanford. MOOCs will democratize education, they say, creating a more equal and consumer-friendly world.

 

Faculty members, meanwhile, watch these developments with nervousness and fear. In the rapidly rising popularity of MOOCs, they see the beginning of the end of higher education as they have known it.

 

Yet, far from a radical innovation, MOOCs are simply the natural extension of trends that have been at the heart of the modern university for decades. Defenders of the status quo are reminiscent of Casablanca's Captain Renault, who is "shocked, shocked" to discover an activity in which he himself partook. In April, the philosophy department at San Jose State University published an open letter bashing the use of Michael Sandel's MOOC, "Justice." Those professors compared the situation to "something out of a dystopian novel." ("Departments across the country possess unique specializations and character, and should stay that way," they wrote.)

 

Such rhetoric notwithstanding, faculties have been deeply invested in the logic leading to the rise of MOOCs, and are fundamentally ill-prepared to mount a serious intellectual argument against them.

 

For decades, nearly all of America's colleges and universities have moved away from the cultures and intellectual traditions within which they were founded. Religious institutions have become increasingly and uniformly secular (George Marsden documents this in The Soul of the American University). 

 

 The widespread abandonment of the title "college" in favor of "university" demonstrates the preference to be perceived as "universal" and research-oriented rather than as a "collegium" drawn to a unique scholastic endeavor rooted in place and history. Higher education is becoming increasingly monocultural as demands for geographic (and market) expansiveness take precedence.


The faculty are deeply invested in the logic leading to MOOCs, and are ill-prepared to mount a serious intellectual argument against them.

 

The faculty is composed of a rootless professoriate drawn from graduate programs aimed at producing research for denizens of the disciplines, and not oriented to culturally specific institutions, which, of course, are disappearing. To compensate for the professoriate's emphasis on narrowly focused research (which diminishes their focus on institutional governance), a cadre of administrators is needed. 

 

Meanwhile, student bodies are becoming more homogeneous, claims of "diversity" notwithstanding, as they are shaped by standardized high-school curricula and nationalized testing regimens. Universities look to one another for prevailing norms and settle on a standardless standardization: the universal commitment to the amorphous goal of "excellence." Universities have come to value the same policies and practices: publishing in national and global academic presses and universally recognized disciplinary journals; participating in international disciplinary associations with conferences that "normalize" every discipline; emphasizing research (especially student research) at the expense of the humanities by insisting that the humanities are valuable only insofar as they create knowledge along the model of the natural sciences; and making broad institutional commitments to globalization, social justice, diversity, and the importance of STEM.

 

Part of this standardizing shift is driven by accrediting institutions and government bureaucracies, with their demands for "measurable outcomes" and "assessment." But a great deal of this impulse stems from internal institutional actors, including the faculty. The seemingly universal embrace of the research university—whether large and public or small and private—leads faculty members to demand that particular institutional affiliations, missions, cultures, and identities be relegated to occasional ceremonial expression. A global research culture dominates. The demand to generate "new knowledge" requires institutions to conform to canons of academic standardization that, over time, force colleges and universities to become intellectually indistinguishable from one another.

 

This embrace of uniformity has led nearly every institution to adopt the ethic of "globalization" and "internationalization." One sees a growing number of universities establishing international campuses, such as Education City, in Qatar, which includes programs from Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Georgetown, and Texas A&M. The assumption that knowledge is neither produced nor transmitted in local contexts leads, inevitably, to the conclusion that institutional identity is purely accidental—that every institution is, at its essence, a global content-delivery system. The result? Higher education is more monocultural than ever before.

 

As any botanist knows, a monoculture is highly susceptible to a single pathogen. A great shakeout is under way, and MOOCs are the logical outgrowth of this push for interchangeable educational delivery. Curricula, faculty, and students are overwhelmingly indistinct, and MOOCs are simply the cheapest way to combine those elements in our economically constrained times.

 

Colleges and universities are like the once-ubiquitous department stores in every city—Filene's in Boston, G. Fox in Hartford, Woodward & Lothrop in Washington—which, while enjoying distinct locations and histories, became increasingly similar. When consumers grew to value uniformity over a local market culture, those local stores were susceptible to the challenge from a truly universal competitor that could offer the same wares, produced cheaply, at low, low prices. Those stores are all now out of business. MOOCs are the Wal-Mart of higher education.

 

Consider Clay Shirky's recent paean to MOOCs:


"Cheap graduate students let a college lower the cost of teaching the sections while continuing to produce lectures as an artisanal product, from scratch, on site, real time. The minute you try to explain exactly why we do it this way, though, the setup starts to seem a little bizarre. What would it be like to teach at a university where you could only assign books you yourself had written? Where you could only ask your students to read journal articles written by your fellow faculty members? Ridiculous. Unimaginable.

 

Every college provides access to a huge collection of potential readings, and to a tiny collection of potential lectures. We ask students to read the best works we can find, whoever produced them and where, but we only ask them to listen to the best lecture a local employee can produce that morning."

 

Shirky is correct, of course, that students at every institution should be exposed to a wide variety of works. Yet he finds it unthinkable that institutions would limit that exposure, or that they might have a commitment to how works are presented to students. The conceit that the cultures, missions, and identities of particular institutions produce "artisanal products" seems quaint. Our contemporary educational Filene's, according to Shirky, must get big or get out. This phrase—"get big or get out," along with "adapt or die"—was the mantra of Earl Butz, secretary of agriculture under President Richard Nixon, who urged the replacement of small, family-owned farms with large-scale, industrial farms. As it did to independent farmers, the consumerist ethic now appears poised to transform higher education.


This metaphor points to some small hope for a different future of higher education. A few winners will provide a cheap, mass-produced product to consumers—the Wal-Marts and the Monsantos of higher education—and many losers—today's Filene's, Woodward & Lothrop, and G. Fox. But Shirky's dismissive nod toward "artisanal" teaching points to a better path for those institutions that want not only to survive but to flourish, by refusing to go along with the monoculture. Those are the ones that have, or are seeking to recover, their distinctive institutional identities—often, but not always, a religious affiliation.

 

Think of Providence or Belmont Abbey among Roman Catholic institutions, or St. Olaf or Baylor among Protestant ones—all rightly anticipating that nondescript and indistinguishable institutions will be easy victims of the logic of standardization. This artisanal direction requires hiring faculty who expressly share a commitment to the institutional mission and attracting students who seek a distinctive education. Consider Hillsdale College, with its traditionalist emphasis on core curriculum and Western civilization, and a growing number of institutions that combine a liberal-arts education with some training in "trades" or manual labor, such as Deep Springs College, in California. (Try to teach baling hay via MOOC.)

 

If it is indeed time to "get big or get out" — or, better put, "get online or get an identity"—then I'm for the artisanal, the local, the educational equivalent of farmer's markets. The irony is that while most professors embrace the ideal embodied in farmer's markets, they have supported the evisceration of local institutional educational identity. It's time to insist not only on locally grown food, but on local knowledge. I'd rather make and share my own beer than encourage my students to guzzle Budweiser.

 

 

timokos's comment, June 7, 2013 3:59 AM
I completely agree! I too foresee a homogenization of higher education and a few Mass Producers dominating (online) higher education. For all others it is 'time to "get big or get out" — or, better put, "get online or get an identity"
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News and insights on Open and Online Education and innovations in Online Learning. There is a tsunami coming. I can't tell you exactly how its going to break, but my goal is to try to surf it, not to just stand there. [John Hennessy, President of Stanford University]
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Educators discover new ways that students cheat on MOOCs

Educators discover new ways that students cheat on MOOCs | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

... In a new working paper, researchers at MIT and Harvard University identify a new method of cheating specific to open online courses and recommend a number of strategies that prove effective in preventing such cheating...

http://www.scoop.it/t/easy-mooc


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How High Schoolers Spent Their Summer: Online, Taking More Courses

How High Schoolers Spent Their Summer: Online, Taking More Courses | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, intended as college-level work for anyone, are popping up on college applications, a sign of curiosity and, possibly, résumé packing.
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6 concerns students have about MOOCs

6 concerns students have about MOOCs | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
MOOCs have the potential to reach learners who otherwise may not have access to postsecondary education, but they have a long way to go in proving reliability of information and quality of content.

That may sound like a researcher or wary administrator’s perspective, but these sentiments are strongly expressed by today’s college students.

In a new qualitative data report, Communication Instructor Dr. Andrew Cole at Waukesha County Technical College and Dr. C. Erik Timmerman, associate professor at the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, reveal the thoughts of one large university’s current college students toward MOOCs.

Via Edumorfosis, juandoming
timokos's insight:

Interesting outcomes of evaluation amongst campus students on their view on c-MOOCs & xMOOCs

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MOOC Professors' Agency in the Face of Disruption

MOOC Professors' Agency in the Face of Disruption | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Stanford University used MOOCs as an opportunity to create a supportive environment for faculty to explore, create, and express themselves in new ways through open and digital education. Following its early support for MOOCs, Stanford built "soft infrastructure" to incubate good ideas and allow courses to evolve over time.

Via Robert Schuwer
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Coursera & University of Illinois launch fully accredited iMBA Program

Coursera & University of Illinois launch fully accredited iMBA Program | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

"About the iMBA program

Executive leadership skills and an accredited degree in an affordable online package.

Coursera and the University of Illinois bring you a rigorous business degree that’s accessible to anyone. Start with 6 Coursera Specializations in topics like management, finance, and marketing. When you’re ready, apply for admission and enhance your skills with 6 for-credit online MBA course sequences led by top professors and industry experts. You’ll finish with a fully-accredited Masters in Business Administration, for a fraction of the traditional cost.

timokos's insight:

Interesting move. Is this a game changer for the MBA market?

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Higher education: Creative destruction

Higher education: Creative destruction | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Reinventing an ancient institution will not be easy. But it does promise better education for many more people. Rarely have need and opportunity so neatly come together.


Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
timokos's insight:
Bald predictions about the impact of MOOCs (without any concrete evidence):
"(…) universities’ revenues would fall by more than half, employment in the industry would drop by nearly 30% and more than 700 institutions would shut their doors."
"Many towns and cities rely on universities. In some ways MOOCs will reinforce inequality both among students (the talented will be much more comfortable than the weaker outside the structured university environment) and among teachers (superstar lecturers will earn a fortune, to the fury of their less charismatic colleagues)."
Not very convincing, but it does raise the question what policies governments should adopt if Higher Education is in some way disrupted by online education.
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ASU Is No Longer Using Khan Academy In Developmental Math Program -

ASU Is No Longer Using Khan Academy In Developmental Math Program - | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
By Phil HillMore Posts (333) In these two episodes of e-Literate TV, we shared how Arizona State University (ASU) started using Khan Academy as the software platform for a redesigned developmental math course[1] (MAT 110). The program was designed in Summer … Continue reading →
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University of Phoenix to increase admissions requirements, close campuses

University of Phoenix to increase admissions requirements, close campuses | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
The Apollo Education Group-owned, for-profit college system expects to reduce its enrollment to 150,000 by 2016 with proposed changes.
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Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Student Diversity

Practical Guidance from MOOC Research: Student Diversity | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Over the next few days, I’ll release a series of short post on seven general themes from MOOC research that could inform the design of large-scale learning environments in the years ahead...

http://www.scoop.it/t/easy-mooc


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Nu in Transfer: de opkomst van online masters — De Nuffic

Nu in Transfer: de opkomst van online masters — De Nuffic | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Online heeft de toekomst, ook in internationalisering. Daarom in de nieuwe Transfer ruim aandacht voor digitale masters, videoconferencing en andere vormen van online samenwerking. Plus: een uitgebreid interview met “mister internationalisation” Hans de Wit.

Via HBOnieuwslijn
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MOOC 4.0: The Next Revolution in Learning & Leadership

MOOC 4.0: The Next Revolution in Learning & Leadership | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Last month my colleagues and I completed a pilot of what well may be the most interesting project of my life. It was the pilot of a new type of MOOC that pushes the MOOC design envelope by blending a globally transformative platform with an eco-system of deep personal, locally grounded learning communities.

Via verstelle
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The (Accidental) Power of MOOCs

The (Accidental) Power of MOOCs | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Massive open online courses looked like they were on their way out—and then researchers discovered something curious about who’s participating...

http://www.scoop.it/t/easy-mooc


Via Lucas Gruez
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ed alvarado's comment, July 4, 12:33 AM
Brilliant!
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Edtech and the (Persisting) Motivation Gap

Edtech and the (Persisting) Motivation Gap | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Khan Academy’s announcement last week that they had launched their new SAT Prep program in partnership with the College Board was seen by the media as a watershed moment in the history of test prep. It’s obviously a big deal: The official maker of the exam has partnered with an education organizati

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Coursera Charts Course for International Expansion With $49.5M in Series C Funding (EdSurge News)

Coursera Charts Course for International Expansion With $49.5M in Series C Funding (EdSurge News) | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
The company once charged with “disrupting” American higher education has set its sights across the Pacific Ocean. And it has enticed plenty of schools—and companies—around the world to join its mission.
Coursera, a provider of massive open online courses, now boasts over 1,100 courses from 121
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MOOCs show promise in complementing UC-San Diego's campus offerings

MOOCs show promise in complementing UC-San Diego's campus offerings | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
UC San Diego offers a variety of MOOCs through Coursera and edX, which many of its own students take, rounding out their educations with cutting-edge skills they need for the workplace.
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The MOOC revolution that wasn’t

The MOOC revolution that wasn’t | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Via Robert Schuwer
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Great article by Audrey Waters. Explains the recent pivots of Udacity Coursera (& edX?) from Open Access HE for all to Education for Employability 

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elearnspace › White House: Innovation in Higher Education

timokos's insight:

Great blogpost by George Siemens. Tired of the 'college is broken' narrative of disruptive change agents, he predicts an unpredictable future, although he coins it as 'the golden age of learning' with more and more diverse universities, moving from a 4 year relationship with students to a 40 year relationship. 

 

This calls for more focus on managing and understanding change, especially through the use of data (analytics).

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MIT and German research on the [appalling] use of video in xMOOCs | Tony Bates

MIT and German research on the [appalling] use of video in xMOOCs | Tony Bates | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Via Robert Schuwer, Bert Frissen
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Why the open source business model is a failure

Why the open source business model is a failure | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Most open source companies can't thrive by selling maintenance and support subscriptions. But the cloud may be the key to revenue generation.

Via Robert Schuwer
timokos's insight:

Mmmmm, fits nicely with the point of view of a Venture Capitalist, looking to max his ROI. Don't think this argument is valid for publicly funded HE institutions. It does give food for thought though: added value of proprietary code (or any other IP) is continued funding for innovation, made possible largely by marketing ….. What does that mean for HE?

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Robert Schuwer's curator insight, July 7, 2:31 AM

Interesting "Gedankenexperiment": is the article still valid if we replace "open source software" with "open educational resources" and replace all other references to business accordingly?

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No, Sesame Street Was Not the First MOOC

No, Sesame Street Was Not the First MOOC | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
The History of the Future of Education Technology
timokos's insight:

“Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street.” by University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine debunked by my favourite critical ed-tech journalist!

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Who studies MOOCs? Interdisciplinarity in MOOC research and its changes over time | Veletsianos | The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning

Who studies MOOCs? Interdisciplinarity in MOOC research and its changes over time | Veletsianos | The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Who studies MOOCs? Interdisciplinarity in MOOC research and its changes over time

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MIT Researchers Develop Model To Predict MOOC Dropouts

MIT Researchers Develop Model To Predict MOOC Dropouts | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a model that aims to predict when students will drop out of a MOOC.

http://www.scoop.it/t/easy-mooc


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Emilycanfield's comment, July 4, 2:11 AM
Its impressive :)
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New bill would support innovative internet pilots for students

New bill would support innovative internet pilots for students | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
New legislation would support innovative methods to give students access to the internet and digital tools outside of classrooms.

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Is UK HE lagging behind the global race?

Is UK HE lagging behind the global race? | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
This year's annual survey of Vice-chancellors and report by PA Consulting has just been published - and for colleagues at Staffordshire, it's always good to read the work of Mike Boxall, who presented
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Institutional Strategies for MOOCs: Berklee’s Approach

Institutional Strategies for MOOCs: Berklee’s Approach | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Berklee’s Institutional Strategies with MOOCs

Many institutions entered the world of MOOCs as a way to begin offering courses online. Berklee’s reasons were different: MOOCs aligned with our mission and would enable us to address a number of strategic initiatives for the college including:

Raise visibility for BerkleeProvide readiness courses for prospective studentsProvide music education opportunities to international and underserved populationsProvide a pathway of study with Berklee OnlineLeverage and maximize industry partnerships

 

http://www.scoop.it/t/easy-mooc


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