Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to explore some of the plethora of information out there. Google, as always, offered a number of sites to explore, a small portion of these have been shared in our OLTD 505 Google + Community. What has been most valuable is what others have shared. This has occurred through Twitter in my follower’s tweets and the hashtags #mooc and #moocchat , through our OLTD505 Google + Community and most recently through our online synchronous meeting with Stephen Downes.
First off let’s start with a definition. Of all the different definitions I came across I feel this one from Gartner Technology summarizes it best:
“The massive open online course (MOOC) is an online phenomenon made possible by: (1) social networking facilitation of acknowledged expert(s) in a field of study; (2) freely accessible online resources; and (3) hundreds to thousands of registered students. MOOCs have free (no fee) open enrollment to anyone anywhere with network access. MOOCs do not seek or require accreditation. Students self-organize their participation in a MOOC. However, even student “lurkers” are welcome.”
Thinking that a MOOC was a fairly new phenomenon I was surprised to discover through the writings of Paul Stacey, and Stephen Downes and George Siemens that MOOC’s have been around since 2008. Although there were two courses offered in a similar format in the Fall of 2007, one of these being Social Media and Open Education by our own instructor Alec Couros.
I was furthered awed by the number of MOOCs that are being offered worldwide. To get a sense of just how many check out the MOOC List to see “ The Complete List of Massive Open Online Courses (Free Online Courses) Offered by the Best Universities and Entities”. One MOOC that does not appear to be mentioned is the First Steps to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education that recently began at our own VIU, Vancouver Island University. This is one of many that I am sure have been missed.
With the growth of web 2.0 and the increasing costs of post-secondary education we are seeing more and more learners worldwide choosing to participate in MOOCs, this has fueled their continued growth. But with growth come questions and concerns such as the quality of the courses, completion rates, the cost associated with the creation and how does one get credit or do they, to name just a few. Please see my blog post “Concerns Related to MOOCs” for further discussion on this topic.
Of even more importance when looking to create any course is sound pedagogy. In relation to MOOCs Paul Stacey raises the question “How can you effectively teach thousands of students simultaneously?” Stacey discusses this in great detail in his blog post “The Pedagogy of MOOCs” the most recent post in his EDTech Frontier blog, a valuable read. If you are looking for MOOC pedagogical recommendations, Stacey outlines these at the end of the post.
xMOOCs :"They focus on concise, targeted video content – with short videos rather than full-length lectures to wade through – and use automated testing to check students’ understanding as they work through the content. …Whilst they include discussion forums, and allow people to bounce ideas around and discuss learning together, the centre of the course is the instructor-guided lesson. Each student’s journey/trajectory through the course is linear and based on the absorption and understanding of fixed competencies. Learning is seen as something that can be tested and certified."
cMOOCs are based on connectivism: "The connected aspect of learning is brought to the fore in a cMOOC. It’s a chaotic experience (as @RosemarySewart put it) and is inherently personal and subjective, as participants create their meaning and build and navigate their own web of connections.
cMOOCs are not proscriptive, and participants set their own learning goals and type of engagement. They won’t necessarily walk away with a fixed and tested set of specific skills or competencies, or knowledge of a set body of content. This makes cMOOCs tricky to grade or assess or certify. This, combined with the fact that the platform is totally open, means that they probably aren’t very easy to make any money from.
cMOOCs are discursive communities creating knowledge together."
Here is a list of cMOOCs from the blog post.
In closing, I am intrigued to see what the future will bring in the realm of MOOCs. Stephen Downes shared his thoughts during our presentation seminar. My understanding taken from this is, the hope is to move away from structured courses and look to the creation of MOOCs that will become “The Course as Network” the content is created as you go, looking to the many networks available on the web, there is a start and end date but it is open so you can enter and leave as you wish, which allows you to choose when you participate, and there are no barriers to participation
What the future brings is the question, but it is not based solely on time but on the energy put forth by people like Stephen Downes, Paul Stacey, George Siemens and our own Alec Couros, and others like them as they look to make learning open and accessible to all, while keeping in mind the importance of sound pedagogy.