A couple of days ago I wrote a dreadful piece of drivel that I’ve since removed from this blog (not a step I take lightly but it was just that bad). I was trying to explain my concern at the way that some educational technology commentators appeared to be becoming increasingly critical of MOOC platforms such as Coursera and educational technology entrepreneurs in general. For me, at that point, the rise of private MOOC platforms and edtech startups in general was something that, while not ideal, was at least the lesser of two evils and could be seen as a positive trend in changing higher education for the better.
And yes it is the openness. I had convinced myself that a ‘sort of’ open was good enough as long as enough disruption was going on to make the big changes that I think we need. I was wrong. While we may argue about what form of MOOC is best, the role of instruction versus connection, how assessment could be carried out, if at all we should all be agreed that an ethical MOOC should be open. Very much like the Psychology MOOC that Mike Caulfield co-created.
I’ve been familiar with the basic concepts around the use of open badges for a while now but I have to admit that they hadn’t really grabbed my attention front and centre until, that is, I got my first badge almost by accident yesterday. Let’s just say it was an aha moment.
Now, as an aside, let me say that this course was one of the best pieces of online learning that I have ever undertaken. The use of video explanations coupled with interactive exercises is extremely well done. The explanations are perfectly pitched. The technology used is powerful but seamless. In short, I loved it and I learnt a lot that will improve the way I code. Continue reading →
Quite obviously Mark sits on the ‘make money’ side of the fence, as is evidenced by such terminology as delivery model, product, marketplace, consumer.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I actually dislike the use of the language of commerce being applied to higher education. Nothing irks me more than hearing students being described as consumers or customers. They’re not; they’re students. The reason I used that language in my blog post was that it is the language that Clayton Christensen uses when he talks about disruptive innovations. It was just clearer to use that language in describing the way that MOOCs are working as a disruptive innovation in higher education. That was the point I was trying to make.
In what can only be described as a rant, six community colleges members have taken to Inside Higher Education to produce a self serving article that bemoans the implications of the use of educational technology and, in particular, the rise of the MOOC.
Without encumbering themselves with anything so drastic as a bit of research into their topic they proceed to brand MOOCs (presumably all types of MOOC) in fairly inflammatory language as being “designed to impose, not improved learning, but a new business model on higher education, which opens the door for wide-scale profiteering”.
There are a couple of problems with this; firstly it supposes that the current higher education business model is the only one that should exist and, secondly, that the current higher education delivery model does, in fact provide a better learning experience.
Both of these claims are contentious to say the least. MOOCs are a classic disruptive innovation that fits the model described by Christensen precisely. They operate at the lower end of the supposed product capability range at low cost to the student. Typically such innovations arrive in a marketplace in which the functionality of existing ‘products’ has increased beyond the current level of demand from the consumer at a cost beyond what they are prepared to pay. In other words, the disruptive innovation is good enough.
Well that’s a big topic for what I aim to be quite a short post. I was listening, from a distance, to the Great Debate which was held at the ASCILITE 2012 conference currently underway in Wellington, NZ. The debate was on MOOCs as game changers in higher education. I have more to say on that but I’ll leave it for another post. What I want to talk about here was the emphasis placed by the anti-Mooc debaters on how bad it would be to have higher education run by venture capitalists. I remarked in a tweet how perplexed I was by this sentiment.
I’m not sure why there seems to be an obsession with the ‘evil’ of venture capitalists at #ascilite2012
The Conversation web site is currently half way through a series of invited posts entitled “The Future of Higher Education”. It has been a disappointing series so far in that five of the first six posts have focussed on MOOCS and the sixth has been a general post on equity in online learning. Now MOOCs are an important development but the future of higher education is bigger than MOOCs and the questions are much more fundamental. Here are are some questions that I think this series should be addressing. Continue reading →
My friend Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer) recently wrote a thoughtful piece in The Conversation web site entitled Academics behaving badly? Universities and online reputations. For the record I think that the points she made were valid and true but I also think that there is an underlying issue that remains uncovered. Simply put, it is that fact that policies around the use of social media by the academy have, in many cases, been outsourced to individuals who are not members of the academy and do not understand the purpose of the academy. As a result they fundamentally miss the opportunities that social media offer universities in engaging with the wider community. This seems to me to be particularly true in Australia where rampant managerialism associated with the corporate university has led to situation in which ‘brand positioning’ and being ‘on message’ is seen to be more important than concepts of sharing, collaboration and collegiality in knowledge distribution and generation.
I ran a short workshop for colleagues on the topics of connectivism and the rise of MOOCs earlier this week . As part of the workshop I wanted to show the relationship between connectivism and the first MOOCs in a diagram. I also wanted to show some of the ideas and theories that formed the basis for connectivism and for the first open online courses. Lastly, I wanted to show some of the outcomes from the first MOOCs and from George Siemens paper on connectivism .
The resulting diagram is below and it’s available under Creative Commons license for re-use and, preferably, improvement. I say improvement because I’m not entirely happy with it and I think some relationships are missing or could be re-interpreted. Inevitably, it is trade off between presenting complex ideas and relationships in as simple a way as possible. I’d welcome suggestions for improvement or you’re welcome to it yourself.