This seems to leave me with more questions about the role of MOOCs in public education than confidence that the model is actually opening education.
Is there evidence that this model will remain cheaper than traditional classes, or can we expect, once the novelty wears off, universities to charge more and more for credits while investing less and less in the infrastructure (labour and development) of education? This has been the trend with every other model and platform, has it not? Could the one-time purchase of course materials vs. the employment of academics in stable, sustainable, full-time jobs help to justify (and worsen) cuts to public education funding? Does lowering the cost of a few course-by-course "samples," as they put it in the article, actually address systemic issues like poverty and racism that make entire degree programs less accessible for some people?
Sounds like a neat course about dinosaurs, and the model itself is interesting, but I'm still skeptical that MOOCs are the answer to systemic problems in education.
sarah beth August 3, 2013 - 2:29am
Sarah, Thanks for your post.
MOOCs are NOT the answer to systemic problems in education. No one is claiming that. I would also point out that the traditional university is also NOT the answer to systemic problems in education NOR is the present open university model, an anwer. They have been around for years to little effect on the systemic issues. There is no evidence that MOOCs will remain cheaper, nor is there any evidence that they will become more expensive. They are too new and they are diverse. There are different models. But, there is evidence that traditional university courses will remain become more expensive. This we know.
Investing less (proportionately) in infrastructure and labour is the reason for our ability to sustain our standard of living and raise it. Why would you think that education should be exempt from this trend? if one can clean the house yourself with a vacuum and wash clothes and dishes with machines rather than employing 3 maids, then why wouldn't you do that? Why would we hire 10 000 workers with shovels when we can use machinery to do the job, faster, better and more economically?
But, let me repeat MOOCs are NOT the answer. Neither are our educational structures. However, MOOCs are experimenting in better ways of delivering education to masses of people. If one or another or many of them succeed in providing quality learning opportunities to large numbers of learners, that would be wonderful. Meanwhile traditional universities who are not experimenting, we know will not find any answers.
All the best.
Rory McGreal August 16, 2013 - 5:59pm
Great post Rory, and well said. Thanks. My share http://suifaijohnmak.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/mooc-movement-are-we-at-the-crossroad-in-higher-education/MOOCs (both c and xMOOCs) are about changes. Are people ready to embrace those changes? Not everyone is viewing such changes in positive ways, though every MOOCs and even online education, have their "yin-and-yang" impact on education. Who led the changes? If people reflected on the first cMOOCs, were they led from the grass-roots? xMOOCs are led from the top and "driven" by the MOOCs providers and HE institutions, and so could be perceived differently. As I have shared, most successful implementation of education reforms and initiatives were driven from the top. Only revolutions were driven from the open or bottom (like internet, technology, or people in society). Are people still the most valuable assets to society and community? If yes, how are people going to embrace changes and adapt to a "revolutionary" ecology?
- Sui Fai John Mak
an unauthenticated user of the Landing August 2, 2013 - 9:14pm
Rory, thanks for demolishing this self-serving defence of the traditional university model as the gold standard for learning. The deficiencies of the latter have become increasingly evident, as the Internet, the most powerful learning platform ever devised, offers better alternatives. Is there any doubt that traditional higher education is in crisis? I point to:-
I could go on and on. Yes, higher education has problems, an abundance of problems. Are online education and MOOCs the answer to those problems? Not by themselves. However, they are steps forward by offering valid alternatives that are supported by a growing number of students who are voting through their enrollment choices. MOOCs and online education are continually evolving, whereas classroom practices are not to any significant extent.
If defenders of the cherished traditional university model ignore their deficiencies and alternative online learning methods, they’re just whistling past the graveyard.……Alex Kuskis, PhD
"Education must always concentrate its resources at the major point of information intake; we merely have to ask, From what sources do growing minds nowadays acquire most factual data? How much critical awareness is conferred at these points?” – McLuhan, M. (1955) “Communications and Communication Arts”, Teacher College Record. 57 (4), 104-110.
“Universities are concerned with the communication of knowledge. So radical innovation in communications technologies inevitably suggest change in universities.”- Brown, J.S., & Duguid, P. (2000). The Social Life of Information (p. 230)
- Alex Kuskis
an unauthenticated user of the Landing August 3, 2013 - 9:32am
This shows the demand by scholars for open access, where articles reach more readers and results in more citations. The journals and books compiling papers, strictly forbidding authors from posting their papers on the open Web, even in campus repositories feeding into Google Scholar and so forth, could gradually lose their monopolistic power as the demand from scholars tilts the playing field toward open access. - (Prof.) Steve McCarty (in Japan)
- Steve McCarty
an unauthenticated user of the Landing July 26, 2013 - 7:31pm
I agree that education (especially higher education) need not be "culturally relevant" to students; indeed, being able to communicate, learn, and work across cultures and other types of borders should be a critical goal of education in today's world. But while on-site classes are not always effective in helping students overcome cultural barriers, they don't have thousands of students in them. In other words, scale and quality of teaching/learning don't seem to go together. Now, when pointing out the blind spot in MOOC's global visions, I was not trying to compare it to on-site version of higher education. I just think that the blind spot needs to be part of the conversation. I study international students' academic transition (sorry if it sounds like a plug: www.translatingsuccess.org) and I read one story at a time of how students cross cultures, overcome barriers, embrace difference, succeed in places that scared the hell out of them. I wouldn't want myself or any of these students to be pandered/catered to their local tastes. But when I find myself, as a teacher, start moving toward the attitude that says, "you need to make all the adaptatioins to understand however the heck I am going to teach," I come to my 21st-century sense of global citizenship and want to work one-on-one with my students--whether they are from Kansas or Kathmandu.
Thank you for the observation. I completely agree with you about the need/value of overcoming/learning from cultural differences. My intention was to alert us as teachers toward thinking harder about our end of education, but after listening to the discourse on MOOC's global visions for months, I saw an impasse with regard to how its providers and many educators who bought that side of the argument much more easily than they did anything else. I understand how anyone who is serious about teaching can even imaging "educating the world" from right here.
- G Sharma
an unauthenticated user of the Landing July 24, 2013 - 3:34am
Oh, I agree with your approach, but it is important to me to consider MOOCs in relation to traditional classroom teaching. Critics of MOOCs all too often do not look at themselves. Also your view that scale and quality of teaching/learning don't seem to go together can be overcome by many different methodologies and technologies. Quality can now be maintained in mass classes. However one-on-one will in nearly every case be better. But who can afford it? There is a way through the morass of problems in international mass education. We haven't found it yet.
All the best.
Rory McGreal July 26, 2013 - 5:59pm
I found it difficult to get beyond the "you have got to be kidding" stage in reading the "Theft of American Intellectual Property". I thought it was particularly interesting that otherwise illegal tactics (eg. obtain control of someone's network without their authorization) should be allowed by certain private parties (copyright owners).
Was there a decision on what model AU will use for OER sustainability? It was my impression that if separating relationship from content was percieved as unacceptable in keeping with the OER philosophy.
Eric von Stackelberg June 2, 2013 - 12:29pm
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