One of the major challenges for MOOCs—which so far mostly come from U.S. universities—is to tailor the content of courses to a diverse worldwide audience with any number of combinations of language, educational, motivational, and cultural backgrounds. Critics fear the rise of big box education from only a few elite institutions in Western nations, and worry these may not fit the different learning styles in different nations.
EdX, the not-for-profit online learning enterprise founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today released its XBlock SDK to the general public under the Affero GPL open source license. XBlock is the underlying architecture supporting the rich, interactive course content found in edX courses.
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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