MoocMooc – Looking Back

I’m taking part in MoocMooc, a mooc about moocs. It’s one of the shorter MOOCs at one week long and our final day’s task is to reflect on our experiences over the week. So what are my thoughts after a week of this ‘meta-mooc’?

Firstly, on the nature of MOOCs themselves, their strength (whatever type of MOOC we’re talking about) is that they offer opportunities for education to people that would not otherwise have access to them. They have a number of issues. For example, the definition of ‘open’ that they employ varies across the different types. Some MOOCs have proprietary content hosted within a proprietary platform so that ‘open’ refers only to being able to access. Other MOOCs such as David Wiley’s Introduction to Openness in Education  are open in the fullest sense – open access to open content on an open source platform. Their definition of ‘course’ is just as loose. In MOOCs such as Udacity (xMOOCs) a course closely resembles traditional education while in the connectivist MOOCs the course is whatever path the learner chooses to take and success or failure at the course largely depends on whether the participant learned what they needed from participation in a network of peers.

Secondly, assessment and credentialling are also issues and related to the concept of what it means to succeed or fail in a course. The massive element is only causing issues when the designer of the MOOC is trying to scale traditional practices of teaching or assessment to the MOOC, e.g. assessment via a submitted piece of writing. For this reason, I don’t think that xMOOCs will replace the traditional university experience because they’re trying to replicate the existing experience online and at a larger scale but without having solved the problems and contradictions that that approach will bring. For example, if one group of participants is paying for credentialling then is the MOOC really open or is it just a distance education course with guest access? And if the course offers credentialling then how can assessment be done at scale and with validity?

The more connectivist MOOCs could have the capacity to be a more disruptive effect on the traditional university experience because they are trying to do something different, and because they’re trying to do something different the methods of assessment need to be different. Indeed, connectivist MOOCs in their purest form mean that we will need to examine not only what assessment is, but what the purposes of assessment are.

Have I enjoyed this week? Absolutely, despite not being as ‘connectivist’ as I would have liked. My previous experience with MOOCs had been with Coursera and Udacity and I was interested in experiencing a different approach, as well as starting to get my head around the various facets of MOOCs.


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