Opening up education
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Opening up education
Trends and developments in all aspects of open education: OER, Open courses (a.o. MOOC)
Curated by Robert Schuwer
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Rescooped by Robert Schuwer from Networked Learning - MOOCs and more!

The MOOC as Three Kinds of Learning Management System | Justin Reich - EdTech Researcher, blog

Coursera describes itself as a "education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free." … If Coursera is selling courseware to universities, what exactly are they selling?

Via Peter B. Sloep
Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, June 2, 2013 5:12 AM

Justin Reich then uses a taxonomy of learning management systems (LMSs) pioneered by John Richards ( to clarify the question he asks. I must admit that the distinctions he makes are not entirely clear to me, but this is how I understand them. The first kind is your typical LMS (or VLE in the UK?), a platform for course development, such as Moodle or Blackboard. To me, they are an example of a  substitutive technology, they provide alternative means of doing what people used to do already. As the name Blackboard aptly illustrates, traditional LMSs by and large conserve lecture-based teaching in classes, and only add alternative means to make learning materials available and add additional communication channels. The second kind Justin describes are self-contained online courses, with PLATO as an example (for those who still know this system). Here, there's no need for a teacher, they allow for fully independent learning, and to the user the technology (platform) and content blend seamlessly. This is an example of a transformative technology as it upsets dominant modes of teaching and learning. The third kind, which Justin dubs a digital teaching platform, sits in the middle: "This is a learning management system that is pre-populated with content and learning objects, but designed to be used by students in a classroom with a teacher." The punch line is that Coursera (and presumably the other MOOC providers too) are trying to be all three at the same time. Although this is new, Justin wonders whether such a hardly focused strategy will work. 


My understanding of what Coursera cs are trying to do is different, though. To me, MOOC providers are essentially providers of a technological platform (compare a 2011 blog post by George Siemens - - who discusses a similar notion). They provide a comprehensive and consolidated set of tools and technologies that not only afford a hopefully first-class user experience to the student but also take the dull logistic work out of the hands of the course providing professors and school (but see my blog post on the responsibilities MOOC providers could and should assume - In my perception then, Coursera cs best match the third kind in Justin's classification.


So the question is not so much whether Coursera cs will fail because of a lack of focus, but rather whether in the way we have organised our educational system there is room for such platforms. It seems to me that given the socio-political situation, in the USA there is whereas in continental Europe there isn't; or, put differently, that MOOCs will take a different form on both continents. The recent launch of a MOOC initiative by the European Association for Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU), backed by the European Commission, seems to support this view ( (@pbsloep)

timokos's comment, June 4, 2013 5:05 AM
I agree that there is a completely different socio-political system in the USA and Europe, but I'm not sure if the OpunUpEd initiative will be able to compete with the reputation of the universities that have partnered with Coursera c.s. I wouldn't be surprised if Coursera tries the same strategy in Europe with lesser ranked universities (just as with their deal with the 9 State System Universities in the USA)
Peter B. Sloep's comment, June 5, 2013 7:29 AM
I am not sure about Coursera's business strategy. However, playing the elite university card has much more traction in the US and presumably many developing countries than it does in Europe, which has a more egalitarian educational system, France and the UK perhaps excepted.
Rescooped by Robert Schuwer from Networked Learning - MOOCs and more!

MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education | Li Yuan & Stephen Powell - JISC CETIS publications

MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education | Li Yuan & Stephen Powell - JISC CETIS publications | Opening up education |

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.

Via Peter B. Sloep
Peter B. Sloep's comment, March 25, 2013 9:57 AM
You are right, pity that cMOOCs have not been included as their inclusion would have significantly widened the range of possible outcome scenarios. Still, in defence of the authors, I don't think they set out to cover cMOOCs as well as these are not seen as threatening to HE as it is now.
suifaijohnmak's comment, March 25, 2013 10:08 AM
Yes, I agreed fully with your view :)
verstelle's curator insight, March 26, 2013 3:58 PM

Thorough report from the Brittish JISC/CETIS. 

Many of the reported is not new for those who follow MOOC developments but it is worth reading e.g. for these conclusions:


"...there is a significant question for higher education institutions to address: are online teaching innovations, such as MOOCs, heralding a change in the business landscape that poses a threat to their existing models of provision of degree courses? [...] If this is the case, then the theory of disruptive 

innovation suggests that there is a strong argument for establishing an autonomous business unit in order to make an appropriate response to these potentially disruptive innovations"

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Refactoring Coursera

Refactoring Coursera | Opening up education |
There’s really four elements companies like Coursera have brought to the table. Massive Classes: This was the original “intellectual” pitch. Massive data was going to build better...

Via timokos
timokos's curator insight, May 31, 2013 7:55 AM

Strong analysis of the evolution of Coursera's Business Model and their move into the LMS and Publishing Services Market

Rescooped by Robert Schuwer from Networked Learning - MOOCs and more!

Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching | Steve Kolowich - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching | Steve Kolowich - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Opening up education |

Students regularly drop out of massive open online courses before they come to term. For a professor to drop out is less common.

Via Peter B. Sloep
Peter B. Sloep's curator insight, February 18, 2013 8:10 AM

As Steve Kolowich aptly notes "[McKenzie's] departure marks the second debacle for Coursera this month." As many already have argued in response to the first 'disaster' (, such events are the growing pains of any innovation. Still I can't help but think that a clear contractual agreement between Coursera, the professor in question (McKenzie) and his institute (UCAL at Irvine), could have prevented this debacle. (When you read the article, the disagreement seems to be between McKenzie and his university over what constitutes a proper teaching style for MOOCs). Not to anticipate these kinds of issues is not taking the 37,000 students that apparently have enrolled and 'their hopes and dreams' (as Tony Bates puts it) seriously. I really think there is no excuse for such a lack of professionalism. Whether the course is free of not, doesn't really matter. Nor does whether MOOCs are generally speaking an innovation to be welcomed or frowned upon. (@pbsloep)