MOOCs and teaching: does anyone really know what they are talking about
The flash over MOOCs seems to be ebbing away. Perhaps it is because it costs so much to produce a good one and there is no clear return on that investment.
Coursera Launches An Online Vocational Mini-Credential Taught By Top Colleges Now this looks interesting. I checked out the "mini-specialization" dealing with virtual education and thought that this kind of set-up has some promise, but, as with everything in higher ed, so much depends on the abilities of the instructors.
James Grimmelmann, MOOCs: Over Already? This strain of thought has been echoed elsewhere:
- Valerie Strauss, Are MOOCs Already Over?
- Emma Green, What MOOCs Can't Teach
- Carl Straumshein, Confirming the MOOC Myth
- Susan Adams, Are MOOCs Really a Failure?
The problem is production costs for video. It is simply not that easy to prepare and shoot great quality video. Another issues is distance education. There is an entirely different dynamic associated with online education, and most people, who have not been involved with it, do not understand. Actually, a whole lot of people do not understand the entire education process. One student can listen to a five-minute explanation of how to do a problem and correctly do the problem. Another student might take days to figure it out. Yet another student might have to read how to do the problem before being able to do the problem. They will all get the problem done, but at different paces and in different ways. You really can't rush that much.
See my latest post with my thoughts on MOOCs after completing three MOOCs. I was surprised to learn that one of the MOOC courses that I completed had a completion rate (success rate) of 12%, which is perhaps high for a MOOC. I have no idea what the future is for these, but I think that there is perhaps a niche for them in higher education. In other words, some students will be able to learn that way, but credentialing and assessment remain problematic issues right now.
- Ry Rivard, Beyond MOOC Hype, suggests that key players in the MOOC game are beginning to urge caution and to wonder about the "hype" factor: "Carol Geary Schneider, the head of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, worries that MOOCs can amplify the “least productive pedagogy” in American higher education, which she calls lectures followed by multiple-choice tests. But she does see potential for MOOCs to help flip classrooms so professors can spend less time lecturing in class and more time engaging students. "
- Look at all these pseudo-MOOC index sites, and there are a lot more:
- The Huffington Post now has an updated list of its posts having to do with MOOCs. Check out Dr. Keith Devlin,
MOOC Mania Meets the Sober Reality of Education:
Teaching and learning are complex processes that require considerable expertise to understand well. In particular, education has a significant feature unfamiliar to most legislators and business leaders (as well as some prominent business-leaders-turned-philanthropists), who tend to view it as a process that takes a raw material -- incoming students -- and produces graduates who emerge at the other end with knowledge and skills that society finds of value. (Those outcomes need not be employment skills -- their value is to society, and that can manifest in many different ways.)
But the production-line analogy has a major limitation. If a manufacturer finds the raw materials are inferior, she or he looks for other suppliers (or else uses the threat thereof to force the suppliers to up their game). But in education, you have to work with the supply you get -- and still produce a quality output. Indeed, that is the whole point of education.
- Having completed my first MOOC, and started another one, I have a much better idea of what is involved and the level of academic rigor there. I do not see how you can grade a course with 40,000 people supposedly enrolled in it.
- Now there is a MOOC list, keeping track of new and upcoming MOOCs
- Re what I just wrote, not only do so few have a clear idea of what happens in a college classroom, even fewer have any idea of what happens in an online classroom. It is actually pretty easy to make some videos and call it a course; it is a much different task to actually teach that course
- The commentary on MOOCs continues unabated. For example, Tim Worstall, What MOOCs Will Really Kill Is The Research University. As I have written elsewhere, I think the underlying infatuation with MOOCs and all the commentary about them is clearly a result of so few people, including university and college presidents and administrators, really understanding what a college education is all about.
- Sean McMinn, MOOCs being embraced by top U.S. universities (It is a race to not be left behind without any realization of what colleges are getting into. See the fiasco of what happened at UVa last summer.) Here is a quote from Roy Weiss, University of Chicago deputy provost for research: "We need to be offering our students the latest types of educational experiences that are available....And the other thing is a commitment we have to society at large to enable individuals from all over the world to experience the University of Chicago education at some level." Reminds you of football conference re-alignment in college football. Is there any real reason for West Virgina to be in the same conference as Oklahoma?
- Valerie Strauss<, Why MOOCS won’t revolutionize higher ed
- Clay Shirky, MOOCs and Economic Reality
- Michael Hiltzik, The perils of online college learning: "Online learning is seen today as the answer to virtually every problem facing higher education, especially public higher ed." (The reality, of course, is much different.)
- Major Players in the MOOC Universe, The Chronicle of Higher Learning, 7 May 2013
- Anuli Akanegbu, Does the Khan Academy Pass the MOOC “Duck Test”? It is getting harder and harder for me to keep up with all the MOOC information and commentary.
- A. J. Jacobs, Two Cheers for Web U! (New York Times) This is a priceless quote: "The professor is, in most cases, out of students’ reach, only slightly more accessible than the pope or Thomas Pynchon. Several of my Coursera courses begin by warning students not to e-mail the professor. We are told not to “friend” the professor on Facebook. If you happen to see the professor on the street, avoid all eye contact (well, that last one is more implied than stated). There are, after all, often tens of thousands of students and just one top instructor."
- Welcome to the Mooc Guide
- Charlie Rose has a program to talk about MOOCs. Got to say that I did not watch it. I am convinced that this is the newest fad in a long line of higher education fads. What, suddenly everyone is going to learn by watching TV? (ok, they are YouTube lectures, but it is pretty much the same thing.)
- Jason Mittell, “The Real Digital Change Agent,” is really open access to educational materials; it is not the MOOC phenomenon. Yes, let's open up those Blackboard walls.
- Thomas Friedman, The Professors’ Big Stage
- Carolyn Segal, MOOCs r Us
- John McNeill, MOOCs and Historical Research
- Jeremy Adelman, History à la MOOC