“In the end, a successful course should develop, refine, or reinforce your preconceived knowledge about a subject, and in so doing, add value to your life and society as a whole.”
Me, from miscellaneous blog rambling 2014
Many skilled writers and orators will attempt to cloak their stance, or bias, within the nuances and flow of the thesis throughout their communication. I on the other hand, having limited skills at either of these arts will take a different approach. I am going to throw my bias right up front and admit that I began the assigned readings for week 2 of my class with a limited, albeit pessimistic view of Massive Online Learning Courses (MOOCs).
My first exposure to this growing phenomenon, and the passion that both opponents and advocates seem to exude, was at the American Society for Training & Development conference back in the Spring (ASTD, recently rebranded to Association for Talent Development). A charismatic young Ph.D, with a thick Oxford English accent (this description might sound accusatory here had he not used it himself), narrated one of the short seminars I attended. His task, to enlighten us on the joys and value of MOOCs, based on examples from several that he has both attended and facilitated (the sessions were recorded, but unfortunately the posting closed in June).
Let us just say that I hope his remaining audiences were more receptive. While I too harbored many of the same thoughts of his highly articulate hecklers, it became increasingly more difficult to watch the carnage. It was like trying not to look at a multicar pile up as you creep by on the highway. However, my empathetic gaze crept open the possibility that I might one day consider additional evidence from the scene of this horrific crime.
What my beleaguered young moderator failed to elucidate to the vapid Vegas crowd was that his examples originated from cMOOCs. These MOOCs are designed on the Connectivism model. They are more participatory. According to Bonnie Stewart, in her paper published in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, the first of these cMOOCs were offered by Stanford University in the Fall of 2011. She goes on to explain that a more dominant new breed of course, known as xMOOCs has since emerged. The xMOOCs “center more on delivery of course content than on the participatory exploration characterized by cMOOCs”. These xMOOCs differ in that they more closely resemble the design of traditional university courses, and are in my observation of the readings, at the root of the perceived threat for many opponents…or is it just a perception?
Georgia Tech announced a partnership last summer with Udacity and AT&T for an online Master’s Degree in Computer Science. This is not so impressive until you hear the numbers. The final degree will cost less than $7,000, will only require 8 instructors to handle the courses, but they are expected to serve as many as 10,000 students within the first 3 years. I believe the appropriate term for this is economy of scale on steroids. Let the MOOC-isteria ensue.