The MOOC is Dead. Long Live the MOOC

According to National Public Radio, all the hype about MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) may be just that,MOOC hype.  NPR even describes MOOC guru Sebastian Thrun as being contrite about his involvement in the phenomenon:

“We were on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and at the same time, I was realizing, we don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished. We have a lousy product.” . . . .

“Online education that leaves almost everybody behind except for highly motivated students, to me, can’t be a viable path to education. We look back at our early work and realize it wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. We had so many moments for improvement.”

The report goes on to describe faculty and student dissatisfaction with the whole approach to higher education embodied in MOOCs.

The NPR story is here.  But this is really not a death knell for MOOCs.  It is actually a birth pang.  For example a recent study by the Educause Center for Analysis and Research (EDCAR) looked at how students expect to use technology in their education.  They conclude with some recommendations about how colleges should integrate MOOCs and other technology into the curriculum:

  • Students expect their instructors—not others—to train them to effectively use the technology required for coursework (e.g., use of the CMS, hardware, and software—including specialty software and common productivity software). Instructors need support, encouragement, and possibly incentives to do so.
  • Educate your students about MOOCs; most students are unaware of them. Institutions have a fleeting opportunity to contextualize MOOCs for students in a way that will mesh with the institution’s own MOOC strategy.
  • Create (or update) a strategy for incorporating mobile device use into the classroom. Address the IT infrastructure barriers (such as a lack of convenient charging outlets and/or charging stations and insufficient network access) that keep students from using their devices effectively while on campus.
  • Approach learner analytics purposefully and thoughtfully by adhering to information privacy principles. Collect data for a stated and transparent purpose in order to build students’ confidence in learner analytics activities.

It suggests that, like most other educational technology, MOOCs are here to stay.  It is just a matter of finding effective ways of integrating them into the learning experience.

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