Posted by: crudbasher | August 31, 2010

Massive Open Online Course – A Great Experiment

Great article.  This talks about a nacent movement called Massive Open Online Course.  The idea is to open online college courses to anyone who wants to participate, not just the people paying for it.  Naturally the paying students will get the credit and degree, but everyone can get the knowledge.  This goes back to what I have been saying in the last few weeks.  Many colleges are making money by credentialing their students, not by teaching them.  In a way this is an encouraging sign.  I am becoming more convinced that alternate forms of learning will arise soon to coexist at first with the regular university system, and then to supplant it.  This can be a painful transition for many.

As I have been saying, Universities have to answer this question: What are you selling that is worth what you are charging?  Keep your eyes open and always question your business model because it can change quickly these days.

See this previous post for more thoughts in this vein. If You Give it Away for Free, Is It Worth Anything?

  • Fascinating idea. Opening up access to online course for no credit.

    tags: education openteaching learning2.0 nell

    • So when a colleague suggested they co-teach an online class in learning theory at the University of Manitoba, in 2008, Mr. Downes welcomed the chance to expand that privileged club. The idea: Why not invite the rest of world to join the 25 students who were taking the course for credit?
    • Over 2,300 people showed up.
    • They didn’t get credit, but they didn’t get a bill, either. In an experiment that could point to a more open future for e-learning, Mr. Downes and George Siemens attracted about 1,200 noncredit participants last year.
    • “We have to get away from this whole idea that universities own learning,” says Alec V. Couros, who teaches his own open class as an associate professor of education at Regina, in Saskatchewan. “They own education in some sense. But they don’t own learning.”
    • Openness proponents contend that distance education often isolates students behind password-protected gates. By unlatching those barriers, professors like Mr. Couros are inventing a way of learning online that feels less like a digital copy of face-to-face classes and more like the open, social, connected Web of blogs, wikis, and Twitter. It can expose students to a far broader network than they would encounter discussing their lessons with a small group of graduate students.
    • The classes have even spawned a new name: Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC.
    • But the difficult questions remain.
    • How do professors protect students who feel uncomfortable—or unsafe—communicating in a classroom on the open Web? How do they deal with learning content that isn’t licensed for open use? What about informal students who want course credit?
    • And, most basically, if professors offer the masses a chance to pull up a virtual seat in class, how do they make sure the crowd behaves?
    • Instead of restricting posts to a closed discussion forum in a system like Blackboard, the class left students free to debate anywhere. Some used Moodle, an open-source course-management system. Others preferred blogs, Twitter, or Ning. In the virtual world Second Life, students built two Spanish-language sites. Some even got together face-to-face to discuss the material.
    • “This is a very different way to learn,” Ms. Drexler says. “I as a learner had to take responsibility. I had to take control of that learning process way more than I’ve had to do in any traditional type of course, whether it’s face-to-face or online.”
    • Like many institutions, the University of California at Irvine publishes free online learning materials, such as lecture slides and syllabi. But Gary W. Matkin, dean of continuing education, says he can see inviting outsiders to participate in an online course only if they did so in a separate space.
    • Partly, he says, it’s about student privacy. But it’s also about setting a learning context for paying students, meaning what they see and how their education is structured. If instructors don’t control that context, he says, “they’re in some sense abdicating their responsibilities to their own students.”
    • Open teaching is up against academe’s history of private classrooms and intellectual-property ownership, says Lori Wallace, dean of extended education. For it to spread more broadly in distance education, she says, would involve “some very significant changes to the culture.”

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. This is a neat trend, my question is at what point do the people taking the class for free surpass those paying for the class in terms of skills? Does that mean that those paying for the class are paying for a “golden ticket” of sorts to get into a job even if there are others who are more qualified? As always I will be interested in seeing how all of this plays out.

    • I think your question goes back to assessment. Not by schools, but by businesses. They will be a better way to screen potential employees. Just sorting by degree doesn’t really take into account all the other things a person might know. It’s tricky, but I really think this will change dramatically in the next decade.

  2. […] has been some discussion of MOOCs as a learning mode, both negative and positive and even one from George Siemens about his concerns. I am really excited about anything open and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: