The competitors for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are fragmenting, some into commercial learning and development where payment is easier to take, for specific skills training such as graduate induction and by profession, say law, accountancy, banking and pharmaceuticals. These are MOOCs that are neither massive nor open anymore. All see the value in improving their learning approaches, and to attract and identify the very best potential candidates, but open education should be for everyone, not a replay of an elitist model of the last millenium. Peter Stockwell puts the qualities and potential of FutureLearn very well at the end of the first week of the ‘How to Read a Human Mind’ in which he commends the contributions made by participants, how the most scholarly step in to explain and assist the novice, and the ‘wiki nature’ of the course allowing educators to rejig their module as it is represented.
By comparison, efforts to use alternative platforms such as EdX, Coursera and Udacity I have found to be such direct reflections of formal, campus based training that they prefer an approach that fails to exploit our burgeoning digital literacy. The learning environments are dated and labyrinthine. The only successes I have had here has been where educators have taken a closer interest in the activity of the students, but this could only be achieved by their committing additional time: taking part in discussions and adding additional content on the fly, which cannot be the long term modus operandi of a ‘massive’ course with thousands, even tens of thousands of participants. If universities expect MOOCs to deliver plausible candidates for formal courses this doesn’t need to impact on the quality or nature of the experience, it does however require a mindshift in the way universities expose and reveal their educators and teaching methods.