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Activity 12 - background to MOOCs

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Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:29

According to Dave Cormier, MOOCs are about a sense of belonging and having a purpose. George Siemens mentioned the ongoing problem of the drop-out rate and went on to state another challenge is that participants may not be 'experts' in the particular field of study yet they can have quite an influence in e.g. social networking as the topics are discussed on perhaps Twitter. Interestingly Dave and George claimed that it's the learning that is important and not the completion of the course, sometimes life gets in the way and people burnout but if they gained some knowledge and understanding during their short time on the MOOC then that makes it a success. George expressed his concerns about MOOCs, "I have some issues and concerns with the pedagogical model. I don’t think that they’re as innovative as people give claim to because in my eyes they basically duplicate all of the structural components of a classroom, you know – the heavy emphasis on expertise, the drilling of content and quizzing. These MOOCs prepare people for the knowledge structure that we currently have, or have had over the last century, very well. My argument is that the complex problems that society faces going forward, aren’t going to be solved through necessarily an exclusive expertise model. They’re going to be solved through very much a networked and distributed approach, where many individuals provide different pieces of the knowledge puzzle. And so I think my main critique of those MOOC formats, is that they duplicate the classroom model and they don’t necessarily prepare people for participation in these very complex chaotic knowledge settings that most of us live in these days". However this was some time ago and my experience of FutureLearn MOOCs is that they have forums where you can discuss or ask questions, they have interviews (admittedly with 'experts') and quizzes - which George may dislike but I appreciate. Everyone learns differently and perhaps this model may not suit everybody. FutureLearn could argue that they are networked because they are on Facebook and Twitter, however yes I see his point that this duplicates a classroom model - albeit with a relaxed stance.


"MOOCs have created wide interest as a change agent in higher education, and the peer-reviewed research literature on them is growing but still limited. MOOCs generate a plethora of data in digital form for interested researchers. However, this volume has so far limited researchers to analysing only a tiny portion of the available data, restricting our understanding of MOOCs" Furthermore "Mak, et al. (2010) suggest that there has been unacceptable behaviour (for example, forceful intellectual debates, feelings of participation being demanded, and rude behaviour) from some MOOC participants, which has led other participants to cease posting on forums. The possible cultural differences of participants in MOOCs and their MOOC experience would be an interesting avenue of research in relation to cultural tension in MOOCs" (Liyanagunawardena et al., 2013). 


Mak, S., Williams, R., & Mackness, J. (2010). Blogs and forums as communication and learning tools in a MOOC. In Networked Learning Conference, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, 275-285.

Liyanagunawardena, T.R., Adams, A.A. and Williams, S. (2013) ‘MOOCs: a systematic study of the published literature 2008–2012’, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 202–27 [online]. Available at http://www.irrodl.org/ index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 1455/ 2531 (last accessed 17 April 2014).

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