#Oped12 The Future of Higher Education and the MOOCs

With thanks to  John Mak for this post:

This talk by Michele Pistone discusses the future of higher education, which has been based on the same educational model for more than 100 years.

But the status quo is about to be disrupted, by the Internet and those educators — including new competitors — who would unleash its potential. Higher education institutions at a whole have not adequately recognized the threat to the status quo, or come close to responding adequately to it. In truth, responding adequately will be very difficult, because higher ed face a classic innovator’s dilemma. (TED video description)

There are many questions that relate to the future of higher education:

1. What would be the future role of Higher Education Institutions and Universities in the global and local communities?

2. What would they do, in times of rapid changes in society and a quest for more responsive to the needs and expectations of the society, government, learners and educators?

3. How would they do it differently?

One of the significant responses to these questions is the MOOC movement, with the introduction of x MOOCs by some of the prestigious Higher Education Institutions and Universities.

Here in an overview of MOOC, a typical MOOC likes Coursera is run based on the following design and delivery

With Coursera, the faculty member developing a course can either record lectures as presented to a class of students, or can make the recording in a studio or other location. The professor can then supplement the video with assessments—like quizzes—that can be automatically graded using Coursera software. The courses also include mastery-building interactive assignments and collaborative online forums. Time commitment varies; courses can range from a few weeks to over two months.

Ray Schroeder elaborates in this post on “how did we get here in the first place” – with MOOC, and what will happen next.  Ray explains that maturing of the internet, the recession that happened a few years ago and the rate of increase in college tuition and fees in recent years have led to the development and demand of such xMOOCs.

He further concludes: “These announcements point to the potential for a radically different higher education marketplace, disrupted by MOOCs. Classes with massive enrollment from a relatively small group of providers may dominate the market for many courses, and perhaps even degree programs. Colleges and universities may become brokers of credentials gathered from many sources, in many formats.”  I think this would soon have a multiplier effect, where more institutions would establish their own MOOCs or join the current MOOCs partnership, in order to be the leaders in this MOOC movement.

In this Schaffhauser, Dian. “Education Leaders See MOOCs, Distance Learning as the Future of Higher Ed.” Campus Technology 20 Aug. 2012. Web.http://campustechnology.com/articles/2012/08/20/education-leaders-see-moocs-distance-learning-as-the-future.aspx

“The overall findings of the survey stated in the form of an equation might be: Today’s tough economy + market dynamics + technological advances = a higher education environment by 2020 in which 1) most people will get at least some of their education in massive open online courses; 2) a fairly large percentage will get all of their education in MOOCs; and 3) only a select few are likely to be able to afford to experience a fully campus-based, face-to-face education,” said principal author Janna Quitney Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet and associate professor in Elon’s School of Communications

I have been wondering how these MOOCs would evolve.  It seems that the current trend of more and more higher education institutions joining in the x MOOCs would likely exhibit the patterns as shown in the figure below, where such disruptive innovations (MOOCs) would soon out-perform the higher education institutions in a number of respects, especially in terms of the number of registrations of the students to MOOCs on a global basis, the attraction of global learners to those higher education institutions, and the branding in an international market, in the adoption of innovations in education and online education.

However, there may be challenges to such xMOOCs when it comes to the quality accreditation (such as those plagiarism and identity problems), and the sustainability of the business models (i.e. how it would be  financed in the long run).  There are also numerous critics on the pedagogy employed in xMOOCs, where concerns are made on the push education model where knowledge is pre-packaged and broadcasted, basically on a knowledge transfer model from the professor to the learners, with machine grading for the assessment.  It seems that there are little ACTUAL interaction between participants and the professor throughout the course, especially when the course participants amounted to tens of thousands.  See my previous post on the merits and demerits of the MOOCs.

In this connection, it may be important to speculate the future of MOOCs using the Product Life Cycle concept.  There are lots of assumptions behind this Product Life Cycle, and that we need more information in order to complete the Cycle.

First, what would be the Product Life Cycle like?

I reckon the current x MOOCs are at the stage of growth, though the business models are still emerging, see this post and this post on the possible models.

Institutions and MOOCs providers would likely refine their MOOCs as more experiences are gained, based on the feedback of the professors and learners, and the findings from the researches.  Also, there would be more intense competition among the different MOOCs providers in showcasing their brands, together with the “travelling” free study groups and free webinars and conferences to further attract new institutions on board and new learners to participate in the courses.  This might take two to three years for the growth to fully develop.

I would speculate that after 2 years of growth, in around 2014, the MOOCs would mature into global platforms where there would be different categories, with x MOOCs, c MOOCs and hybrid c & x MOOCs etc. all building their reputation in a global market.

What would happen next?  What do you think?

Photo credit: this post.

Why MOOCs will not save universities

Dr Stefan Popenici reviews discussions about economics, moocs and universities’ role in changing themselves or having less impact on what could be described as education. He highlights differences in perceptions of academic roles, their status and influences on changing academic practices. He looks at the current economic models and management practices where risk taking by both academics and students has not been ecnouraged or supported.

He looks at the ‘ideas’ initiatives which churn out ideas and describes how a push for greater efficiency is removing the conversation away from universities

These forums of ideas and debate have no equivalent initiative organized by an academic institution in the last decade. This used to be an integral part of any university mission, but the culture of debate, inquiry, exploration and public conversation crumbled under the pressure of efficiency. Universities are not capable nor even interested to have something similar and most academic conferences are now paper-presentation-marathons with little if any discussion about what goes today as serious research

He goes on to look at Moocs and questions the economic viability, the engagement of large audiences and reflects on the ability of tools and platforms to realistically change the future.


Building Democratic Learning: The limits of Moocs

Fred Garnett writing from the WikiQuals project, mentions how he has been participating in several MOOCs and working on various open projects for several years. He calls the content-driven MOOCs #edspam which refers to the new range of MOOCs that have emerged after the original connectivist MOOCs. He refers to a discussion where commenters have said that the for students following Coursera MOOCs there is limited navigation opportunities. He reflects on the concept of distributed knowledge:

I don’t see that Connectivism MOOCs are creating distributed knowledge either, although they are distributing new practice and asking new questions about learning. The participants seem to be acting more like Wenger’s’ Technology Stewards within evolving Digital Habitats, (who walk at 45 between hierarchies & networks) revealing new ecologies of learning, or at least new Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks. It is this networked learning potential that is really exciting in the hype-world that MOOCs currently exist in. Sadly the MOOC is becoming a box in which institutions are trying to capture this evolving practice so they can sell it; they are trying to build an e-education service delivery model.

He discusses American educational policies and his own experience teaching in the US, reflecting on Open Access Models and Open Scholarship  and links to a slideshare he created of a recent discussion on education and what is emerging alongside market influences and makes suggestions for how to create participatory democratic education.

An invitation to join the Future of Education Mooc

Interrupting the scheduled broadcasting…. to bring you an exciting chance to join in a conversation that is continuing to blossom amongst educators who are passionate about changing education. Is this you?

If you’ve never tried a Mooc before, this is a chance to get a feel, connect and share in meaningful discussions with a range of educators around the world and the developers of the original Moocs. (The original Moocs are the ‘brand’ and the Stanford/Harvard Moocs are like the ‘generics’ ) Your opinions and your students’ opinions are invaluable to these discussions so invite your students along too or ask one of the facilitators for advice about how to do this.


The Fate of Community Colleges in an Online World

Lauren Landry reports on concerns voiced that if traditional education is going to be replaced then does this mean that community colleges will be chopped first. She does not believe that the xMOOCs will replace community college provision because she believes there are skills that cannot be taught online and learners may not get the support needed

They’re the students who may show up with learning disabilities, or who study when compelled but aren’t checking into the library on foursquare every day. They’re the students who could benefit from additional help, but need the in-person assistance and motivation of a community college staff to push them along and help them succeed.

In full


After Leadership Crisis Fueled by Distance-Ed Debate, UVa Will Put Free Classes Online

Nick DeSantis reports on recent changes at University of Virginia including a leadership crisis. They are joining a group of 12 other institutions which will put courses online using Coursera.

Ms. Sullvan said in a written statement that she was “pleased” that Virginia was joining the ranks of universities experimenting with Coursera.

“These classes will expand the university’s role in global education while reinforcing our core mission of teaching, research, and public service,” she said. “They will in no way diminish the value of a UVa degree, but rather enhance our brand and allow others to experience the learning environment of [Thomas] Jefferson’s Academical Village.”

In full

The Original Flipped Classroom | Peer to Peer Review

Barbara Fister looks at MOOCs and flipped classrooms and wonders about the pedagogy of instructional lectures. She suggests that libraries are the ultimate flipped classroom

They are designed for engagement, self-directed learning, and experiential education. They are the antithesis of the comforting simplicity of the textbook and the condensed overview of the lecture. In libraries, students find themselves in a swirling stream of ideas. We’re there to help, but they have to do the swimming.

In full

Online Learning is where Online Music was Five Years Ago

Andrew Maynard at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies reflects on the impact of youtube with online education, reporting on a panel at VidCon where all the panelists were not formally trained or from institutions but experienced online educators.

As new tools come online, educational institutions are jumping on the band-wagon to provide instructional content.  Initiatives like Coursera and edX are bringing college course material to a far wide audience using online video.  But even these innovations are in danger of looking turgid and outmoded in comparison to the new breed of community educators.

In full

Online Learning: The New Buzz Phrase Waiting for a Definition

Cathy Finn-Derecki has been trying 2 MOOCs, DS106 and Udacity Statistics. She mentions that Udacity is distraction free from other people and windows, but

then the DS106 in me creeps into the picture. I imagine this lecturer as the whole person. I want to do a mashup of the Udacity course, mocking Sebastian Thrun’s accent, turning the statistics lecture into a comedy sketch complete with charts and graphs. The possibilities for using video, audio, writing, and acting are endless. I break out of the checkboxes and lectures and have a chance to explore my alter ego’s needs. If one person can experience such extreme differences in online learning environments, how can we even discuss “online learning” as though it’s a monolithic thing?

In full

The Scholarly Web

John Elmes refers to a blog post by Professor Martin Weller who feels that the development of a more formal structure for MOOCs is likely. He has been an advocate of open education but has some reservations about MOOCs.

The beauty of forming a MOOC, he says, was that it “allowed you to explore new pedagogy…and subject matter”. He believes the latest models are too conventional.

Professor Weller also worries that, while they are free, they are not open in the sense of being “reusable and openly accessible”.

He is also concerned that if MOOCs were to develop a commercial aspect, it would not be long before “they are engaged in Facebook-type data selling, for instance”.

In full