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.
This is the third mooc I’ve enrolled in and I have to say I’m enjoying it so far. I really like the use of WordPress, BuddyPress and the other technology that enable a distributed model of contributions. Great stuff.
There was a reasonable amount of discussion at the #pleconf last week on the role of e-portfolios in personal learning environments and who should be responsible for providing e-portfolio tools for students. I think the ground swell view was that e-portfolios are important but that students should be able to choose how they create their own e-portfolio. This is a view I agree with and is a slight softening of my previously held view which was that universities had no business in providing e-portfolio software. My view now is that universities probably should provide e-portfolio software for their students to use but that the use of that software should absolutely not be mandated and it should be up to the student to choose how they manage their e-portfolio.
This was the first year that I had attended a PLE Conference in person having been an active remote participant in 2010 when the conference was held in Barcelona and a slightly less active remote participant in 2011 when the conference was held in Southampton.
This year the conference was held jointly in Aveiro, Portugal and Melbourne, Australia. I attended the Melbourne venue and the highlight for me was seeing the two keynote speakers; Alec Couros (@courosa) and Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer). Having said that, they were ably supported by a range of interesting presentations.
Both Alec and Inger took us on personal narratives relating their beginnings in personal learning environments and of their experiences and practices. Alec wrapped this around the question of “Why networks matter in teaching & learning”. He had crowd sourced a number of responses to this question and included these in his presentation. You can see Alec’s slide show below:
I’m going to ignore the ‘teaching’ word and just concentrate on the ‘learning’ word because that is far more important and far more enabled by the network. I’m sure there are many reasons but this a short post so I’ll limit it to three:
Blackboard have set the cat amongst the pigeons with their announcement today that they have acquired both Moodlerooms and Netspot to help run a new business to support and host open source learning management systems.
Both George Siemens and Audrey Watters have already posted their initial views on this and both provide an interesting and sceptical take on Blackboard’s motivations. I agree with their scepticism but I disagree with George’s analysis of the Blackboard’s motivations. I actually think Blackboard are making a play to position themselves as the cloud provider of LMS solutions. Here are my reasons: