Saturday, June 1, 2013

MOOCs - are the clouds beginning to clear?

Nubes y sol - Clouds and sun by Aloriel, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Aloriel

Martin Weller wonders if the whole MOOC bubble has already burst in his post, You Can Stop Worrying About MOOCs Now. This week has seen the announcement by Coursera that they will be partnering with 10 US state university systems and public schools to provide them with course content. Instead of being the revolutionary element of disruption in higher education the xMOOCs are beginning to blend in with regular campus by providing ready-made course content for smaller universities and colleges to embed in their own programs. A college can thus offer a wider range of courses since they do not have to make the investment in developing the course material and can offer the tuition and examination that the MOOC cannot offer.

I'm not surprised by this move and it fits in with the layered model of education with free resources at the bottom layer and then optional value-added services like tuition, validation, examination etc higher up and at a fee. Martin sees this as the xMOOCs revealing their true colours and instead of offering free education for all they are now looking to establish a good business model within the traditional set-up.

A few weeks ago there was a discussion about whether MOOCs are courses or textbooks and the answer seems to be verging toward the latter with the course element added on by other parties, at a cost. Rather than disrupting higher education MOOCs may well end up fitting comforably into it providing new dimensions but not challenging too hard.

Maybe we should let them get on with it and get back to looking at MOOCs as they were originally conceived:

"So what about MOOCs, you know, those free, open courses? Is this the end of them? No, I don't think so, but maybe they can now become what we always wanted them to be, focused on access and experimentation and not hype and commercialism."

Time for a reminder of the roots of MOOC with Dave Cormier's classic video description. Now this is what I call a MOOC:

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