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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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MOOC-SCOOP
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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Mooc test agreement between FutureLearn and Pearson

Mooc test agreement between FutureLearn and Pearson | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
The UK massive open online course platform FutureLearn has signed an agreement with the proctored examination provider Pearson VUE
timokos's insight:

Didn't Udacity abandon this road already in 2013?

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IMS, Mozilla Partner on Digital Badges for Education

IMS, Mozilla Partner on Digital Badges for Education | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
IMS Global has unveiled its Digital Credentialing Initiative which aims to promote the adoption, integration and transferability of digital credentials in education and the workplace. The initiative is said to improve the current IMS interoperability standards and seeks to extend Open Badges adoption and transfer across and within institutions and corporations.

Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
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Arizona State U 'MOOCs for credit' program faces unanswered accreditation questions | InsideHigherEd

Arizona State U 'MOOCs for credit' program faces unanswered accreditation questions | InsideHigherEd | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
timokos's insight:

Accrediting Agencies unprepared to evaluate & accredit the Global Freshman Academy by ASU & edX.

 

George Siemens debunks the disruptive nature of this initiative: '“This is what has in the past been called ‘distance education’ or ‘online learning,’” Siemens said in an email. “Nothing new here, folks, move along.”


Curious what the verdict of the accreditors will be….

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Reimagine Freshman Year with the Global Freshman Academy

Reimagine Freshman Year with the Global Freshman Academy | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
timokos's insight:

 MOOCs for credit! Next step in opening up access to Higher Ed.

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Jones International, First Fully Online University, to Close

Jones International, First Fully Online University, to Close | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

"Jones International University, the first completely online university in the world, has recently announced it will be closing its doors next year as a result of declining enrollment and increased competition."


Via EDTC@UTB
timokos's insight:

First of more private & for profit casualties of the disruption of HE education market as a result of the MOOC revolution? This was predicted by Moody's investor services in 2012 (see: https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Massive-open-online-courses-carry-mixed-credit-implications-for--PR_255083)

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EDTC@UTB's curator insight, April 8, 5:47 PM

Wow... I didn't see that coming.

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Three Insights from the HarvardX and MITx Year Two Reports

Three Insights from the HarvardX and MITx Year Two Reports | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
timokos's insight:

Great report based on data of 69 MOOCs and over 1 million unique users, pointing the way for new & valuable research directions.

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Why MOOC OERs are “ultimate necessity” in higher education - eCampus News

Why MOOC OERs are “ultimate necessity” in higher education - eCampus News | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
A University College of London researcher discusses 3 strategies to open up MOOC content, and why going OER might help solve MOOCs' many problems.

Via Leona Ungerer, Bert Frissen
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Joran Le Cren's curator insight, March 25, 10:48 AM
While the opening of education materials is laudable, it is important to understand that nothing is free and designing MOOC is expansive. If I compare this to the open source software, programmers spend their time and their passion on it. Indirectly, they pay the cost of the software instead of the people who will use the software. It was very difficult to develop an open source software few years ago because programmers had to work in paid job at the same time. Now, business models exist where programmers can live on developing open source softwares. Problem #1: lack of pedagogy leads to low retention - yes and no: lack of pedagogy does not help but low retention is more due to the lack of goals of the participants. Curiosity can motivate you few weeks but not months. MOOCs are too long. Online courses shall be shorter, competency-based and driven by participant goals. Problem #2: design for several profiles and languages - sure it is important. But still, it is expansive in time and money. Well, some wikipedia-like platform can do the trick. However, while wikipedia delivers knowledge with up to no creativity, a good educational course can be highly creative. And it is harder to share freely. Take Flickr that share pictures, some are CC and others are proprietary. CC pictures have often a lower quality than proprietary pictures. Problem #3: Lack of funding leading to contracts with locked-down content - true but why platform providers and governments should pay for this? Taking the open source software world again, the companies are the ones who sponsor OSS because they have a direct advantage: they can maintain a high-quality software without R&D. Back to the educational world, ask the companies to sponsor the educational resources to participate to their employees' continuous training. Some other quotes : - "shall not require a registration" : IMO, both learners and educators benefit of the data collected during the online learning. - "it is a right for all citizens" : you can argue that citizens shall have access to content produced with public money but it is only true in one country. What about foreigners accessing content produced by this country's citizens money.
Sonia Santoveña's curator insight, March 28, 5:06 AM

añada su visión ...

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Cost comparison: MOOCs versus ILT

Cost comparison: MOOCs versus ILT | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

Not surprisingly, one of the most common questions I get from people who are interested in using massive open online courses (MOOCs) for training is: “How much do they cost?”

This is a simple question, but the answer is complex.

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


Via Lucas Gruez
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Goodbye, SAT: How online courses will change college admissions

Goodbye, SAT: How online courses will change college admissions | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Students have a new way to show they’re ready for university classes.
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$1.55M MOOC Project to Expand Global Education

$1.55M MOOC Project to Expand Global Education | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

The two-year initiative, Advancing MOOCs for Development, will be driven by research on online course enrollment in the Philippines, Colombia and South Africa. The Technology & Social Change Group, or TASCHA, at the University of Washington’s Information School will conduct the research with support from IREX, a nonprofit development organization.

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


Via Lucas Gruez
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Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching

Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
(2015). Teacherbot: interventions in automated teaching. Teaching in Higher Education: Vol. 20, Twentieth Anniversary Special Issue, pp. 455-467. doi: 10.1080/13562517.2015.1020783
timokos's insight:

Great article by Sian Bayne on her experiences with teacherbots in EDCMOOC, which I was unfortunately unable to follow.

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Confessions of a Community College Dean: What Problem are ASU and EdX Solving?

Confessions of a Community College Dean: What Problem are ASU and EdX Solving? | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
timokos's insight:

Community College Dean's critique of ASU's Global Freshman Academy: price-wise this is not disruptive and improving access since Community College fee's are usually lower than $200 per credit. Only innovation is paying after you successfully complete the course.

 

Interesting are the mixed reactions in the comments-thread by professionals from the HE-institutions on the one side ('credit laundering') and a (anonymous??) parents / students on the other side.

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MIT creates new Online Education Policy Initiative

MIT creates new Online Education Policy Initiative | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Project brings together leaders in learning sciences, social sciences, and cognitive sciences to collaborate on a vision for the future of online learning.
timokos's insight:

Interesting read for HE-institutions thinking about their online strategy

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MIT creates new Online Education Policy Initiative

MIT creates new Online Education Policy Initiative | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Project brings together leaders in learning sciences, social sciences, and cognitive sciences to collaborate on a vision for the future of online learning.

Via NikolaosKourakos, juandoming
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Political pressure builds for a new accreditation and aid pathway for upstart providers

Political pressure builds for a new accreditation and aid pathway for upstart providers | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Any federal attempts to open even a limited amount of aid dollars to noninstitutional providers almost certainly would face a major challenge from established colleges and, probably, faculty groups. Yet many well-placed observers predict the feds will try something sooner than later. The rare bipartisan support for new ways of delivering higher education is too strong to be ignored

Via Alberto Acereda, Ph.D.
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For a Better Flip, Try MOOCs -- Campus Technology

For a Better Flip, Try MOOCs -- Campus Technology | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Innovative faculty are running MOOCs and flipped-format on-campus courses on the same schedule and having the two groups interact online — with interesting results.
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Between MOOC and COOC : Oil & Gas MOOC launched by IFP School with the support of Total

Between MOOC and COOC : Oil & Gas MOOC launched by IFP School with the support of Total | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

With the support of Total, IFP School, the French leader in industry-oriented graduate programs in the fields of energy and transport, is launching the first specialized oil and gas Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), “Oil & Gas: from exploration to distribution” ...

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


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Lucas Gruez's curator insight, March 30, 3:37 PM

Between MOOC and COOC, an interesting exemple

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6 Benefits Of Using MOOCs For Corporate Training

6 Benefits Of Using MOOCs For Corporate Training | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

A primary goal for many organizations, even those with sizable Learning and Development budgets, is to maximize training results and minimize investment of resources. MOOCs for corporate training are quickly becoming popular solutions. In this article, I’ll highlight the many benefits that MOOCs can offer to corporations...

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


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Coursera's Stiglitz: MOOC revolution is just beginning [SXSWedu 2015]

Coursera's Stiglitz: MOOC revolution is just beginning [SXSWedu 2015] | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
We caught up with the massive open online course provider's head of business development to talk credentialing, JetBlue, and the format's continuing potential for disruption.
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Innovative MOOCs Take Learning in New Directions

Innovative MOOCs Take Learning in New Directions | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
Recent efforts are tweaking the formula for massive open online courses and expanding their reach to new audiences.

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


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Seven “C”s Ensure Learner Engagement in Corporate MOOCs by Hilary Albert & Manjit Sekhon : Learning Solutions Magazine

Seven “C”s Ensure Learner Engagement in Corporate MOOCs by Hilary  Albert & Manjit  Sekhon : Learning Solutions Magazine | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it
In a recent corporate MOOC, over 85 percent of the participants completed the training—17 times higher than the average
academic MOOC. What drove those results?
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Online Learning Must Be Collaborative, Social

Online Learning Must Be Collaborative, Social | MOOC-SCOOP | Scoop.it

The report, Innovating Pedagogy 2014, is the third annual report concerning technological trends that could revolutionize education.  It suggests that the next step in the world of MOOCs is to introduce massive open social learning. ..

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


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