MOOCs, Norway and the ecology of digital learning

Posted: November 17, 2013 in Moodle MOOC posts

A long post by Tony Bates about a recent conference held at Washington DC, promoted by institutions of USA, Canada and Norway.

MOOCs, Norway and the ecology of digital learning

«So here are my main take-aways from the conference.

  • Houston, we have a problem – ‘we’ being universities and colleges. Publicly funded post-secondary institutions are perceived by important policy-makers as being unnecessarily expensive and perhaps even more importantly, not adapting fast enough to meet the demands of the 21st century
  • as a result, politicians and policy-makers are only too willing to grasp at anything that might disrupt the perceived complacency within the system. MOOCs fit this requirement to perfection
  • there is a growing tendency to conflate MOOCs with online learning in general. This suits of course the elite universities who have come 20 years late to the party – they are re-defining online learning according to their own interests
  • even re-designing a large class in a highly selective institution is now considered to be a MOOC, so as well as the conflation with online learning, MOOCs are now being equated with any large class delivered online. The concept of open-ness runs the risk of being lost, with the focus switching to free or cheap
  • if they can get past the hubris, Ivy League universities have a lot to offer online learning. There were several examples in the conference of innovative approaches to online learning from some of the top universities in the USA, but they weren’t MOOCs as most of us would understand the term. We need to bridge the gap between the Ivy League newcomers and those who have been working in online learning elsewhere. We will all benefit from this
  • as a profession we have failed miserably to disseminate best practices in online learning to busy practitioners/instructors. This is not entirely our fault. If there is no requirement for pre-service training to teach in a university, there is no opportunity to bring these best practices to the attention of all faculty. Training new faculty in modern teaching methods, including online learning, based on good pedagogy and cognitive science, is the best way to address the perception that universities and colleges are failing to adapt to the 21st century.»

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