Pipe line or Pipe Dream?

The Year of the MOOC

As we unbundle assessment from the university, for example, it gets re-bundled with Pearson. As we unbundle the content from the campus classroom, it gets re-bundled with textbook publishers. With MOOCs, power might shift to the learner; it’s just as likely that power shifts to the venture capitalists.



Three Kinds of MOOCs…which help explain some of the different perceptions surrounding the dominance of the top universities in this space and the concept of openness.

Each type of MOOC has all three elements (networks, tasks and content), but each has a goal that is dominant.

Each type of MOOC has all three elements (networks, tasks and content), but each has a goal that is dominant.

MOOCs front page news in the Australian today

Only elite to survive slump in university funds by :Julie Hare,  From: The Australian  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/only-elite-to-survive-slump-in-university-funds/story-e6frgcjx-1226501913522

Ernst & Young report say exploding enrolments in massive online open courses, or MOOCs, and increased demand for tertiary degrees globally point to the need for Australian institutions to broaden their scope in how and where they teach.


Illustration: Igor Saktor Source: Supplied


Not only will the impact be felt in structural change, but so much so that the watchdog Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agencyresolves to monitor online courses by :BERNARD LANE  From: The Australian http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/opinion/watchdog-resolves-to-monitor-online-courses/story-e6frgcko-1226501785367

Universities must plan for a future in which they do not need to generate academic content for many of their courses. Instead, learning materials can be outsourced from elite global universities. These materials will be online and of fine quality. And they will be free, or at least inexpensiveIf the preceding analysis is accurate then the disruptive effect of massive online open courses may be mainly on one dimension of academic work, the delivery of content. This alone will have a substantial impact, for the knowledge and theory underpinning course content is the intellectual centrepiece and the cornerstone of academic values.

Brace for dawn of digital delivery by RICHARD JAMES http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/opinion/brace-for-dawn-of-digital-delivery/story-e6frgcko-1226501787306

Lots of coverage at the moment partly because of  Live-stream: Future of Higher Education symposium and the paradigm shift is a major concern to the not only the nature but the regulation and governance of unis in Australia. http://theconversation.edu.au/live-stream-future-of-higher-education-symposium-10196

10 million international students a pipe line or pipe dream…

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Buck Lewis

Unis were told to meet Asian demand – up from 700,000 students to potentially 10 million. AUSTRALIAN universities and colleges need to rewrite the rules of international education to meet unprecedented demand from Asia’s surging middle classes, according to opposition policy heavyweight Andrew Robb.


The design of MOOCs was for collaboration – not about accreditation through universities – although they have morphed as they have been taken up by universities –

What is a MOOC?

What does this mean for students in our schools? How does this alter the balance of being in control of your own learning?

Unknown path ahead

The learning journey appears to disappear the closer you get to the edge. There is always the promise of the next best thing on the horizon while you are still struggling to get a grip ins the shifting sands below. Blue sky dreaming takes over before you have had  chance to catch your breath and look back and see any achievements behind you… and being led by Stephen Downes into new territory.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Stephen Downes

Daphne Koller: What we’re learning from online education

Daphne looks at real course experience and massive data – move away from the 1 hour lecture and chunk content down to concepts. Break away from one size fits all – active learning and students have to  engage with the material. Feedback is essential – use peers to grade to earn from each other.

This made me reflect on the first MOOC that II enrolled in as a networked learning opportunity in 2009 with 2,300 others. At that stage it seemed massive, and people were creating off shoots in other languages. That seems nothing compared to current offerings with 40,000 students referred to by Daphne Koller.

Since then, the term MOOC has taken off and even Google ran courses and now has released a developer app for their MOOCs and a test site http://cbmultidemo.appspot.com/

There has been so much inconsistent air space about MOOCs, and Lisa broke them down into 3 useful categories with a different focus. HTTP://LISAHISTORY.NET/WORDPRESS/2012/08/THREE-KINDS-OF-MOOCS/

Each type of MOOC has all three elements (networks, tasks and content), but each has a goal that is dominant.

Network-based MOOCs are the original MOOCs, taught by Alec Couros, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier. The goal is not so much content and skills acquisition, but conversation, socially constructed knowledge, and exposure to the milieu of learning on the open web using distributed means. The pedagogy of network-based MOOCs is based in connectivist or connectivist-style methods. Resources are provided, but exploration is more important than any particular content. Traditional assessment is difficult.

Task-based MOOCs emphasize skills in the sense that they ask the learner to complete certain types of work. In Jim Groom’s ds106 at UMW, the learning is distributed and the formats variable. There are many options for completing each assignment, but a certain number and variety of assignments need to be done to perform the skills. Similarly, our POT Certificate Class focuses on different topics for each week, and skills are demonstrated through sections on design, audio, video etc. in an effort to expose learners to many different formats and styles in online teaching. Community is crucial, particularly for examples and assistance, but it is a secondary goal. Pedagogy of task-based MOOCs tend to be a mix of instructivism and constructivism. Traditional assessment is difficult here too.

Content-based MOOCs are the ones with huge enrollments, commercial prospects, big university professors, automated testing, and exposure in the popular press. Community is difficult but may be highly significant to the participants, or one can go it alone. Content acquisition is more important in these classes than either networking or task completion, and they tend to use instructivist pedagogy. Traditional assessment, both formative and summative, may be emphasized. Mass participation seems to imply mass processing.

eg Coursera and Udacity

Google ran Google Research used to host a MOOC to 155K students (I was one of the many thousands) After the course, they released  the Google App Engine so that the concept can be replicated.