Sunday, June 19, 2016
Where do old MOOCs go when they die?
After a MOOC is over the course material and the learners' own material are available for future reference but the the question is for how long? How long can old courses be archived and should there be a best before date? Questions like this have arisen after Coursera's announcement that they are migrating to a new platform. The new platform will certainly offer many new features and better user experience but there is a little catch as outlined in an article on Class Central's blog, Coursera is Removing Hundreds of Courses. Here is a Guide To Get Them While You Can. The old platform will be shut down completely on 30 June and not all courses will be migrated to the new one. Class Central claims that hundreds of courses will be affected whereas Cousera's blog reassures users that losses will be minimal:
There are a few dozen courses on the old platform that will not migrate to the new platform, and thus will not be available after June 30th. These include courses that are out of date (e.g., medicine and technology courses that do not reflect recent research and development breakthroughs), courses that have been updated and relaunched under another title on the new platform, and a few courses that our university partners have chosen to discontinue for other reasons.
The Class Central guide however advises users who want to save the course material and own work from the endangered courses to do so as soon as possible since there is no indication from Coursera as to whether they will be migrated at all. There's a good step-by-step guide for downloading the courses so if you want access to any old Coursera courses, please check the guide as soon as possible.
MOOC critics will certainly voice concerns about the risk of courses and learners' material disappearing like this (though it must be stressed that it is unclear exactly whether the courses will disappear of not). Certainly the risk of all "free" services is that you are at the mercy of the service provider and there is always the risk that terms can change at short notice, price tags get added or the provider goes bust. Coursera are making a major upgrade of their service and have decided, along with the responsible universities, not to migrate courses that are no longer relevant. Maybe MOOC providers should have an archiving policy clearly stating how long material will be available and what rights the participants has in terms of accessing their material after the course is over and making it easy for them to download what they want to keep for the future. Alternatively let the responsible university take care of archiving.
Then again is this so unusual really? How long are students able to keep their LMS log-in after their degree is completed and can they easily download the course material? Universities are legally bound to archive old courses for several years but I'm not sure if any have archiving policies for MOOCs. As long as MOOCs are free and non-credit then maybe you can't expect them to be accessible forever but now that credits and other credentials are being awarded as well MOOCs being presented for recognition of prior learning it's time to develop archiving policies. A course shouldn't simply disappear.