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Learning for free? MOOCs

For Goldsmiths Learning and Teaching Conference, 2012

Mira Vogel

on 12 April 2014

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Transcript of Learning for free? MOOCs

Context & catalysts for MOOCs
Networked living
Free & open, abundant
Read/write, social web
Legacy pedagogies e.g.
of scarce information
Open education
Global trends
HE institutions
Talent, content, platforms
Un/readiness to learn
- independent learning as
outcome, not condition
Widening participation
but restricted
Unhitching credit
from participation
Forming questions
Understanding the nature of knowledge
Participation &
Information to
Fees & other exclusions
(time, distance...)
Network infrastructure
emphasis on information
Chaotic, autonomous,
Peer-organised, informal peer review
Depend on aggregation
Emphasis: coping
with abundance; self-
expression; networking
Unofficial, adjunct
Humanities, education,
professional development
Open to alternatives to traditional HE
Structured, centralised, curricular
Expert-led, assessed
Emphasis: pre-defined subject knowledge
Sciences, technology, objective knowledge base
Ethos of original MOOCs
"...eliminating the learned dependence on the expert and the elite – not as a celebration of anti-intellectualism, but as a result of widespread and equitable access to expertise."
Fork in MOOC approaches - meeting needs
or hacking college?
Stephen Downes
A set of principles "connectivism ... autonomy, diversity, openness and interactivity."
Criticism 1:
MOOCs aren't courses
Jenny Mackness
Criticism 2:
free-&-open doesn't
automatically support independence
Criticism 4:
dispersed = disorientating
"Where's it happening today?"
Side effect of using students' own spaces.
"You choose ... Just like real life."
(Cormier & Gillis, 2010)
But autodidacts don't take courses.
Criticism 6:
'tyranny of participation'
Criticism 3:
spontaneous centralisation
Aren't MOOCs just a sequence in a network?

What about scaffolds, constraints, encouragement, progress monitoring, feedback, equitable access, individualised intervention from expert?
Gravitation towards the experts.
Not enough attention on each other.
Criticism 5:
MOOCs are elitist
Only already-successful people start MOOCs.

Secure incomes.

Sufficient free time.
Schema theory - the importance of prior knowledge - existing mental structures among which to make connections.
Counter example:
http://ds106.us/ (Groom et al)
Some rejection of silent participation.
Counter examples:
ds106 requires participation from UMW students.
fslt12 encourages, doesn't require
aiqus - community Q&A
Utopian views of participation (Ferreday & Hodgson, 2008)
Bell, F., 2011. Connectivism: Its Place in Theory-Informed Research and Innovation in Technology-Enabled Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3). Available at: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/902/1664.

Chamberlin, L. & Parish, T., 2011. MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses or Massive and Often Obtuse Courses? eLearn Magazine. Available at: http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2016017#1%29.

Cormier, D. & Gillis, N., 2010. What is a MOOC? Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc

Downes, S., 2007. What Connectivism is. Half an Hour. Available at: http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2007/02/what-connectivism-is.html.

Ferreday, D. & Hodgson, V., 2008. The Tyranny of Participation and Collaboration in Networked Learning. In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Networked Learning. 6th International Conference on Networked Learning. Halkidiki, Greece, pp. 640–647. Available at: http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2008/abstracts/PDFs/Hodgson_640-647.pdf.

Tschofen, C. & Mackness, J., 2012. Connectivism and dimensions of individual experience. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1).
authentic tasks and environment;
plenty of autonomous, solitary work;
ethos of independence and mutual support;
intrinsic feedback in assignments helps avoid dependency;
assignments with boundaries and constraints;
emphasis on skills and mashup lessens 'anxiety of influence'.
Counter example:
gRSShopper (Downes)
Dave Cormier
Imperative of participating
Otherwise perceived selfishness, denial of community values
But participation often dominated by those with most confidence, time, energy.
"... knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore ... learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks." (Downes, 2007)
Big Five personality traits
Autonomy v. community
(c.f. Tschofen & Mackness, 2012)
1. pull in blog posts
2. turn them into discussion objects
3. feed back to original blog post
Criticisms &

Openess, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism.
Counter examples:
pragmatism - there IS unmet need
There's a CPD niche
"Enrichment courses"
ds106 - a 'travelling' view of learning
ds106, fslt12 participants
to others through the MOOC
it's free
MOOCs only exist because of unmet HE need.

Further erode equity of access to HE - second rate.

Weeder courses - opportunity /= success
Learning determined by (Siemens, 2008):
depth & diversity of connections
frequency of exposure
integration with prior knowledge
strong and weak ties
Complex world, networks as filters
MOOCs & institutions
If MOOCs open everything
that can be, what's left?

Entitlement to expert attention - personalised judgment, guidance, feedback, timely intervention
Weight, commitment
Extrinsic motivation to succeed
Services and support
Reputable assessment and qualifications
These are unique to HE institutions.
...limited by the lack of structure, support and moderation normally associated with an online course ... they seek to engage in traditional groups as opposed to an open network. (Mackness et al, 2010)
"...a MOOC integrates the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an acknowledged expert in a field of study, and a collection of freely accessible online resources."
Foundational level
Degree level
Can MOOCs advance
degree level learning?
Building subject knowledge
Modelling / externalising discourse & interactions
Unhitching assessment from teaching
Assessing work done on other courses.
Or hybridising courses.
Or offering supervision and/or assessment based on existing MOOCs.
Forming groups within MOOC
Addressing the transition between
school and higher learning
Student ambassadors and academics model and demystify scholarship
Shaping A Level qualification (Gove, 2012)
Communities of inquiry / practice based on local needs
Shared experiences, focus of energies
Layers of structure
Mutual support & encouragement
Peer feedback
Frances Bell
Not new - communities of practice in existing open education tradition.
The critical importance of developing one's own personal learning network.
Needs of academics
Formal recognition of time spent on MOOCs;
Digital literacies and fluencies to participate in, and model, new forms of academic communication;
Licence to be private.
Aiqus and majoritarianism
Learning for Free?
The World of MOOCs

CCK, Change, ds106
edX, Coursera
Mira Vogel, Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit
Full transcript