MOOC’s Fork in the Road: Will it stand the TEST of time?

MOOCs is an acroymn for Massive Open On-line Course(s).


MOOCs are a new way of taking courses and learning new material. They were originally being offered for computer tech  and other technology courses now they have begun to expand into universities. All of these courses are free in sense you can sign up for them with about paying a fee however, if you register through a school and expect some type of credit towards a degree you will be paying for that aspect of the course. They offer a chance for students to learn at their own pace with interactivity, student to student communication and online labing. These courses are designed for students to explore and teach themselves as well as each other instead of learning in a traditional classroom with a teacher.

There are two different types of MOOCs that are on rise right now.

One is xMOOCs this is a newer version and it works more or less like you your standard university on-line course. This is where students are taught by structured and organized course material. With  these MOOCs assessments and test are used to measure the students understanding of the material. At the end usually some type of award, degree or passing grade is given.

The more original version is cMOOCs, this one is version of courses is only to achieve, for the student, life long learning. A student won’t, more than likely, receive any type of credit from the course but instead the achievement is a more self-fulfilling one. In this version a student is not limited or expect to learn anything impaticualr but rather to have a free place to discover and explore the topic on their own. They learn from their peers and the information that they gather. Students set their own goals and there is no platform or structured path. Audrey Watters called cMOOCs brings up in her article the idea of  connectivism. Which is an idea of teaching that focuses on exploration and self education the goal is set by the individual and only the individual can measure whether they learned anything or not, they use a system called gRSShopper. Downes, the creator of this system describes it by saying,

Rather than driving users to a course website or a learning platform for all their interactions, the users on gRSShopper “are assumed to be outside the system for the most part,” writes Downes, “inhabiting their own spaces, and not mine.”

This is one of the biggest problems with this form of teaching. Due to this type of system grading is almost impossible. They want peer feedback, students to grade their peers which is ineffective. Students may not know enough about the subject to respond. Also due to the fact that most students that use this type of learning are outside the US there are also language barriers that make peer review almost impossible.  The other problem is the large drop out rate with this form of learning. Students do not last in these class for a number of reasons. The two biggest are lack of drive which is very important due to the fact  that a lot of the work done has little to no guidance by the teacher. Another reason is that the course itself didn’t hold the students attention. These issues have caused a lot of teachers to drop that part of the course.

We see these issues and question if MOOCs will survive much longer. This system could either continue to lose its popularity and fade into the darkness or it can be improved and reevaluated and continue to grow and expand from university to university; eventually becoming, possibly, the future of higher education. This is the fork in the road, What do you think?



MOOCs Are A Major Trend In Tech-Ed

Coursera a platform for xMOOCs

Andrey Waters wrote an a blog called “The Year of  the MOOC” in which she explains why MOOCs are one of the top trends in technical education of 2012. MOOCs stands for Massive Open Online Courses.  As the name implies, these courses are available to anyone in the world with access to the World Wide Web and are free of charge. Students may even obtain certificates once they pass a course.Their most recent version are content based and place emphasis on video lectures and multiple choice tests. These courses run in open-source platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.

I believe Andrey Water, being an educational technology blogger, chose MOOCs as one of the top trends in education in 2012 because within that year, open-source platforms such as Coursera, edX and Udacity where serially launched and many universities around the world used these platform for their courses.  Among such universities are the prestigious MIT and Harvard of the United States which both took a step further by creating their own platform called edX.

MIT and Harvard launch the edX initiative, each chipping in $30 million to create the non-profit and eventually open-source platform.

MOOCs are an excellent way to allow people all over the world, who take life long education seriously, to continue educating themselves at the highest level for free. I personally applaud the efforts of those who have contributed to this cause and hope that this trend continues in the future. However, As a future K-12 educator, I’m aware that if MOOCs become very successful, they could potentially change how K-12 education is delivered in the future.