Amazing? Revolutionary? Disruptive to higher education as we know it? Or is it all just hype?
In this short Espresso Coffee course we hope to get everyone thinking about these issues and more.
These three days provide a taster for a more detailed course on MOOCs that we have planned for 2017. We thought we would use the last Coffee Course for the year to get everyone thinking about this topic – a topic which is sure to stir up discussion!
So what is a MOOC?
More than a course, more than a school or institution, a MOOC is an event bringing people together who are interested in a subject. Some MOOCs are participatory and encourage engagement with other people’s work, and promote networking. Others may be less participatory. There may be tasks to complete, usually collaboratively, but usually no assignments as such. It is sometimes possible to pay a fee for some form of accreditation for work completed in a MOOC. We’ll learn more about this tomorrow in our next post.
Let’s start with a dictionary definition from the Oxford Online dictionary:
“a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people: anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up”
For a more complex definition that might appeal more to academics and educational designers, take a look at the Wikieducator.
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Let’s take a closer look at each of these terms.
Delivered world wide and takes in tens and even hundreds of thousands of participants per course. By 2012, the first MOOCs, led by Stanford University professors and an MIT professor, who put their own campus course on line as open, free, no-credit courses, attracted more than 100,000 students from all around the world.
Generally this refers to the fact that the course is open to anyone who wishes to participate. There are no prerequisites, entrance requirements, applicant interviews or tuition fees. The platforms and course content are not generally “open” – these are owned by course developers and subject to the normal copyright restrictions. However, EdX provides truly open educational and platform resources that can be used and adapted by others, in addition to its commercial profit-making platform.
The course is delivered online over the internet using videos, downloadable readings, discussions and social media activity. Sometimes local groups might form to have “meet ups” but the content and activities are all online.
People may have different definitions of what constitutes a course but it is generally a series of instructional content delivered over a period of time in a structured way. There is usually some kind of time span during which the course runs.
Watch this video by Educause explaining MOOCs and the “connected age.”
A little bit of MOOC history
The acronym MOOC was first coined by Stanford University in 2011.
In 2008, the University of Manitoba in Canada, offered an online course in “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” in which they enrolled a small number of paying students, but also invited a group of non-paying “auditors.” Unexpectedly, over 2000 auditors enrolled, in spite of very little marketing.
In 2011, the University of Illinois offered the first US-based MOOC, called “Online Learning Today and Tomorrow” and attracted over 2500 participants. Other mass participant online learning sites emerged around the same time, including the Khan Academy, TED and iTunesU.
In the summer of 2012, there was a rapid growth of enrolments in the three major MOOC platforms that had emerged – Coursera, Udacity and EdX (Sandeen, 2013).
There is now a range of MOOC types with different approaches to accreditation and distribution.
Many traditional universities have jumped on board for a variety of reasons, such as the following:
- Enhance their reputations,
- Engage alumni,
- Recruit students for fee-based degree programs,
- Replace more traditional learning management systems,
- Provide students with additional preparation or tutoring,
- Use learning analytics for course design or refinement,
- Try new pedagogies that might be imported into fee-based online and classroom-based programs,
- Provide professional-development opportunities for faculty preparing to teach new courses, and
- Internationalize place-based courses.
(Sandeen, 2013, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00091383.2013.842103 )
In the three years up to 2015, over 25 million people from around the world enrolled in MOOCs offered by Coursera, EdX and other platforms. Many saw it as a revolution in higher education but it has been found that only a small percentage were completing the courses and most participants were already graduates of higher education.
Nevertheless, a survey completed in 2015 shows that those with low socioeconomic status from non-OECD countries and those without a college education are more likely to report benefits. The overwhelming majority of people who completed MOOCs report career or educational benefits, and a substantial number report tangible benefits such as getting a new job, starting a business, or completing prerequisites for an academic program.
Zhengao, C, et al Who’s benefiting from MOOCs and Why? Harvard Business Review, September 22, 2015
(More on this in Different Perspectives on MOOCs, Day 3)
Examples of some great MOOC sites
Chen Zhenghao; Brandon Alcorn; Gayle Christensen; Nicholas Eriksson; Daphne Koller; Ezekiel J. Emanuel, September 22, 2015 “Who’s benefiting from MOOCs and Why?” In Harvard Business Review, September 22, 2015
Pilkey, B, 2015, “MOOCs, e-Learning and Beyond: exploring the future of virtual built environment teaching University College London, 1st July, 2014” The Town Planning Review 86:1 2015 109-114 http://search.proquest.com/docview/1652463518?accountid=8330
Sandeen, Cathy, 2013, “Integrating MOOCs into traditional higher education: the emerging “MOOC 3.0″ era”, in Change, the Magazine of Higher Learning Vol 45, 2013, Issue 6 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2013.842103
- What has your experience with MOOCs been like? Have you taken any? Are you a MOOC addict? Do you always finish your MOOC course or are you a MOOC butterfly? Tell us about your experience!
- How does the idea of MOOCs fit, or not fit, with your educational philosophy and approach?