"There are missing elements – learners’ needs (and motivation), pedagogy (from both teachers and learners’ perspectives) and openness which seems fundamental and universal in most Higher Education system, but not thoroughly addressed, as most posts published in those newspapers have been written from the perspectives of news reporters, senior executives or CEO, professors, administrators and researchers, but not much by teachers and learners"
John is right, empirical research on MOOCs, particularly xMOOCs, is badly needed. edX promisies to do so (see my October 2011 blog on the seminar by Katie Vale from edX http://tiny.cc/sp3nrw), but I am afraid the data gathered by the for-profit providers will remain behind the company walls. So they are of little use (another argument against the commodification and privitasation of higher education?).
For want of those data, John suggests different learners have different needs, some being better served by the social-constructivist and connectivist approaches of cMOOCs, others by the instructivist approaches of xMOOCs. For example, high-school kids preparing for college would do better in an xMOOC, lifelong learners better in a cMOOC. This seems to make intuitive sense. After all, if you learn calculus you will want to be told how to do that, and if you want to specialise as an environmental consultant, you need discussion. But do you indeed? John's classification is a good starting point, but perhaps the categories of learners and pedagogies need to be refined. And that of course would bring in the whole discussion on learning styles and on media use (a good starter is Tony Bates' recent blog post: http://tiny.cc/mn4nrw). Somewhere in that discussion (the various kinds of) xMOOCs and cMOOCs would no doubt fit.
But even with this attempt to take a more fine-grained look and bring in existing research, shouldn't these high school kids somehow need to figure out how to learn socially anyway. If we do not already start their initiation at high school, when will we? I would argue that in this day and age, there is a wider perspective to efficiency of learning that needs to be taken into account, a lifelong learning one, that is. (@pbsloep)