What is a MOOC?

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an evolutionary step further than Open Content. A few faculty have begun using online platforms to teach courses to large numbers of students, occasionally reaching above 100,000 enrollments in a single course offering. These courses are offered for free to anyone who chooses to access them. In the majority of cases, course credits are not offered for completing a MOOC. While one-off MOOCs have been taught since at least 2008, they are rapidly gaining momentum, largely due to companies and collaborative projects such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity.

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1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Moving past much of the hype that has appeared around MOOCs over the past year or two, we might start by seeing MOOCs as an innovative important part of our learning landscape rather than a challenger to or replacement for other forms of learning. (thanks Paul - well put! - amichaelberman amichaelberman Oct 20, 2013) This approach allows us to take the best of what we do with other learning approaches and tools so we can carry those into the development of and delivery of MOOCs--and the reverse is equally true, as I'm already seeing from my experience participating in MOOCs and applying lessons learned to the traininng-teaching-learning endeavors I facilitate. The relevancy to the educational sector I know best is that, for learners who are prepared to work effectively in a MOOC environment, there can be tremendous learning successes and the fostering of sustainable communities of learning.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 9, 2013
  • We are contemplating making both of our online offerings structured more like MOOCs as the demand for what we do is substantial both domestically and internationally. I can imagine that we would create a new hybrid type of MOOC that has some of the salient features, but is tweaked a bit to meet our unique needs. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013
  • My institution, the University of Leeds, is one of the first in the UK to make the move into MOOC provision with FutureLearn and, as launch day approaches, it is far too soon to say what, if any, impact it will have upon the wider educational landscape. However, a great deal of time, effort and money has gone into the production of the MOOCs, and if nothing else, it shows our high level of commitment to the concept. Will it revolutionise education as we know it? Maybe. Will it change the way we do things? It already has. The creation of digital assets that can be repurposed for online learning has increased exponentially since our MOOC project was first mooted and, if it acheives nothing else, it has succeeded in raising the level of interest in blended learning with our academics, which can only be a good thing. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • We at Javeriana Cali University are been following the MOOC movement for a couple of years since the Khan Academy experiment. We think that it is already changing the landscape of higher education and it will force all of us to think carefully about what are we providing to our students. In fact, we agree with "The Avalanche Is Comming" in terms of "the content is not the only think that we provide". About monetization, I belive that it is already happening: A few months ago I took a wonderful MOOC about Probabilistic Graphical Models from Daphne Koller. We were around 100.000 students. At some point, she talked about her book (with the same name) and I believe that several of us buy it. If 20% of us did it, we produced a lot of money. The course was fantastic and really make me easier to get the book which of course was much more deep than the course. (- jreinoso jreinoso Oct 14, 2013)
  • I'm coming from a focus of library staff professional development within a connectivist framework. I'd also call it "connected learning." I've studied Learning 2.0/23 Things and similar programs. The parallels between the MOOC movement, connectivism, and L2.0 programs merit consideration. Might we argue that L2.0 programs, offered in hundreds of organizations since 2006, are connectivist precursors to the evolving, open, and large-scale learning landscapes we’re experiencing now? I also believe, based on findings and reflection, that MOOCs for ongoing professional development and training may be one of the most useful and prominent outcomes of this movement. - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 5, 2014
  • Circling back to what Michael wrote: MOOCs and libraries share something very important: the best of them can foster engaged learning, which in turns contributes positively and substantially to the development of local and extended (think onsite as well as online) communities. Connectivist MOOCs offer quite a bit to libraries and library users since that type of MOOC and libraries both have the connective-learning Michael has mentioned. Two resources for those who are still on the fence about this: Environmental Scan and Assessment of OERs [Open Educational Resources],MOOCs, and Librarires: What Effectiveness Means for Libraries' Impact on Open Education (Association of College and Research Libraries,2014) -- http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/publications/whitepapers/Environmental%20Scan%20and%20Assessment.pdf -- and MOOCs: Two Takes on How Masssive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) May Affect Libraries and Library Services (American Libraries, May/June 2014) -- http://tinyurl.com/lstdgh6 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli May 10, 2014 - Marwin.Britto Marwin.Britto May 10, 2014 Paul - this is excellent! - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 11, 2014~

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Because MOOCs are still a relatively young and still-to-be-developed resource, we're not yet seeing trainers, teachers, and learners differentiate between the sort of MOOCs produced by Coursera, edX, Udacity, and others providing these "xMOOCs" as opposed to the more learner-oriented and creative approach we experience in connectivist MOOCs or "cMOOCs". The connectivist MOOCs really do force us to rethink our approach to learning in many ways, and seem to offer the greatest potential for supporting lifelong learning through collaboration and the development of sustainable learning communities.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 9, 2013 - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 21, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 30, 2013 Yes - the statement above is very much xMOOC focused. The more interesting platforms, to me, are cMOOCs. cMOOCs stress the relationship between course content and a community of learners. - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 5, 2014
  • I would agree with the above comment made here. The issues of granting credits and monitizing MOOCs is just around the corner. - deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013 Also agree. And what will the matrix be on how this will be granted credits is another discussion topic. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 21, 2013
  • I also agree and would add that cMOOCs are by far the more innovative and interesting approach (and of course the precursor of xMOOCs). However, "thanks" to the media hype, at least for now xMOOCs and the inevitable monetization of MOOCs are much more present. - helga helga Oct 12, 2013 - paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 18, 2013
  • The UK HE community are collaborating with FutureLearn to market MOOCS: https://www.futurelearn.com/ but what we are producing are definitely xMOOCs rather than cMOOCs, which I personally find a little disappointing, as we all we are doing is just translating existing courses, by re-purposing the learning and teaching materials, rather than creating new and innovative content from scratch. Monetisation will kill off the MOOC. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • Institutional thinking about MOOCs is generally not well articulated, and will, necessarily, become more sophisticated about where the value lies for institutions, audiences they seek to serve, how they format and evaluate these experiences. This is occurring in a time when there is a dialog about whether education, especially higher education, should be considered a public good or primarily a private investment for which the beneficiary should be expected to pay See Holmwood: markets vs dialogue for an interesting article - alanwolf alanwolf Oct 22, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 30, 2013
  • While MOOCs are often criticised for low assessment completion rates, this can be seen as a positive, where participants are focused on the learning available over the completion of accreditation based assessment. This however means that where higher education courses have become based around assessment, because "if it is not assessed then students will not do it", MOOCs may need to adopt a less assessment focused model to cater for the majority of participants who are more interested in learning for the sake of learning, something many academics have lamented has disappeared from assessment focused courses. - j.zagami j.zagami Oct 23, 2013- Marwin.Britto Marwin.Britto May 10, 2014
  • The nature of MOOCs as courses is problematic. They start and finish at specific times, and while often repeated (sometimes with repeat participants), they do not necessarily foster an ongoing learning community. For most participants not focused on a credentialing process, the blending of MOOCs with Communities of Practice, with MOOCs as initial catalyst or refresher events, seems the next evolutionary step. - j.zagami j.zagami Oct 23, 2013 The core group who engaged deeply in the MOOC I co-taught moved to Facebook and continue their community of practice. This is most probably not the norm for MOOCs in general. - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 11, 2014
  • The Open nature of MOOCs and the implications this has for copyright infringement is a significant barrier. - j.zagami j.zagami Oct 23, 2013
  • The trend towards SmallOOC's and MClosedOC's as institutions fail to tackle the challenges of massive and open, but still want to get their online courses included in the MOOC bandwagon. - j.zagami j.zagami Oct 23, 2013 <- completely agree with this as there's MOOC hysteria at the moment and a worrying interest in SPOCs - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 26, 2013
  • The positioning of Learning Management and Content Management System providers, as well as publishers, to 'support' MOOC's. - j.zagami j.zagami Oct 23, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • MOOCs--particularly connectivist MOOCs--have the potential to make us rethink our entire approach to the way many of us have approached training-teaching-learning. A couple of examples: a) exploring the value of project-based learning (where learners actually expand course content by creating learning objects reflecting their growth as learners) as opposed to learning measured by quizzes and tests of information that is quickly forgotten rather than retained and applied, and b) having learners play active, integral roles in setting their learning goals and shaping their own learning experiences within the overal requirements of the learning experiences we provide and facilitate--think of it as the difference between fostering learning/exploration as we do through graduate-level seminars (for learners of all ages) as opposed to defining success based on a learner's ability to simply repeat what they have gained through lectures and rote memorization that doesn't stick.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 9, 2013 - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 21, 2013
  • The impact I think will be greater globally than locally for us as we look forward. Looking at MOOCs objectively, I find it interesting that the highest number of enrollments come from central Europe and developing countries where quality educational access is limited.- deborah.cooke deborah.cooke Oct 10, 2013 Fascinated by the information Deborah added about high enrollments in central Europe and developing countries; makes me wonder whether Google's Project Loon (mentioned in the "Review Press Clippings" section of this wiki as a project designed to increase Internet access in remote/underserved areas) will, as suggested, increase the use of MOOCs.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Oct 10, 2013
  • Not sure if the emphasis should be only on MOOCs, but on the reasearch projects triggered by MOOCs. Such as learning analytics, peer-to-peer-grading, signature tracking etc. At least, MOOCs serve as catalysts... - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 13, 2013
  • Jochen is right - the spin offs from MOOC culture may well prove to be more fruitful than the MOOCs themselves. If all they do is open academic minds to the possibilities of what can be achieved through the use of online resources, then they will have served their purpose. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • At least MOOCs have raised awareness of online learning. There will be failures (and have been a few already) but once the hype dies down we may see a workable model, just a shame the original concept has been distorted with a drive for profit and market share - http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/mooc-creators-criticise-courses-lack-of-creativity/2008180.article - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 26, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 30, 2013
  • As stated above - cMOOCs for ongoing, advanced training within higher ed and in the corporate world are a fascinating model to explore. The LIS professional may find the role of connector to be a prominent part of future duties within these platforms. A connector is someone who can facilitate a group to make connections between learning, ideas, and practice. Also, this person is a leader of sorts who connects people within organizations and lets those connections grow. - mstephens7 mstephens7 May 5, 2014
  • xMOOCs present a particular challenge with content (e.g. course readings). Libraries can play an important role in helping deal with copyright and access issues, as well as help locate open content. - oren oren May 8, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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