Daniel (2012) Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility
MOOC represent a research challenge because they are still a very new phenomena; even newer are the xMOOCs from the US elite universities which are more behaviourist-based than the earlier, connectivist ones (cMOOCs).
The two approaches are very different and the newness of xMOOCs means we have not yet seen much of a reaction to them. There is a theory that institutions such as Stanford and MIT are using MOOC methodology to try and master online learning as a response to the presumed impact that it will have on their on-campus students – if they do not know how to tame this technology it will represent a major threat to their futures.
The xMOOCs have been claimed to have very high registration levels but also claimed to have equally high attrition rates, instances of plagiarism and suspect results from some who do complete.
There are a number of possible monetization opportunities from MOOCs although it is not certain that the institutions will benefit substantially from them.
A merchant bank-driven initiative called Academic Partnerships has launched a series of MOOCs with other universities which are achieving income and good graduation rates.
Daniel raises a number of criticisms of xMOOCs, among them the fact that the universities behind them are known for their research, not their teaching, which may account for what is seen by some as very poor pedagogy. The drop out rate is also an interesting paradox – Daniel says that these universities are defined by the numbers of people they exclude, which somehow implies that large numbers of people dropping out along the way is not a bad thing for them.
Daniel states that MOOCs do not represent a solution to the provision of education in the developing world, though online technology probably is. He predicts that the methods used by xMOOCs will change and adapt as assessment of MOOC practice becomes more commonplace (in the same way that teaching quality assessment now is). He cites Ernie Boyer, who had a vision that universities would one day see to distinguish themselves through their unique qualities rather than by competing on external factors, and suggests that MOOCs could help to make this happen.