Opening up education
18.2K views | +1 today
Opening up education
Trends and developments in all aspects of open education: OER, Open courses (a.o. MOOC)
Curated by Robert Schuwer
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
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 MOOC-SCOOP!

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