We’re at a curious point in the hype cycle of educational innovation, where the hottest concept of the past year–Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs–is simultaneously being discovered by the mainstream media, even as the education-focused press is declaring them dead
Sasha’s comment: Yes! They can be growing and dying at the same time. What we’re learning is what works and what doesn’t work in MOOCs. More important than a “pure xMOOC” is how it will impact higher education as a whole, how it will transform and push learning models in more traditional education venues.
Can MOOCs really be growing and dying at the same time?
The best way to resolve these contradictory signals is probably to accept that the MOOC, itself still an evolving innovation, is little more than a rhetorical catchall for a set of anxieties around teaching, learning, funding and connecting higher education to the digital world.
Access to higher education is strained. The prices just keep rising.
This is a moment of cultural transition
Yet, partnerships between MOOC platforms and public institutions like SUNY and the University of California to create self-paced blended courses and multiple paths to degrees look like a sensible next step for the MOOC, but they are far from that revolutionary future.
Sasha’s comment: The concept of distributed learning, sans or simply in conjunction with, a traditional LMS is not only compelling, but also more participatory. When I was in my Masters in the Art of Teaching program at Kent State University (and at the elementary and secondary level they teach teachers how to teach, not just to deliver content), the phrase “the person who does the work is the person who does the learning” was drilled into my mind. Busy work and multiple choice tests don’t fulfill “work”, particularly in a world of student-generated content, where we’re looking at contextualized learning focusing on applying learning to real world situations.
projects to transform higher education in a direction that is connected and creative, is open as in open content and open as in open access, that is participatory, that takes advantage of some of the forms and practices that the MOOC also does but is not beholden to the narrow mainstream MOOC format (referring instead to some of the earlier iterations of student-created, distributed MOOCscreated by Dave Cormier, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and others.)
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