Archive for August, 2015

I’m an enthusiast of MOOCs in spite of all the critiques that may be raised. We should ask those critics whether they have participated in MOOCs.

I never saw the MOOCs as a threat to the formal university courses. In fact, I see MOOCs as a good marketing strategy of the HE institutions. At least they invest on something that can benefit learners in a free and open way.

My expectations are still high for the benefits of MOOCs in the education landscape and I hope that the movement grows contagious to many other institutions and that the offer may diversify languages so that they may reach more learners, who may not be proficient in english and don’t dare to participate as they might.

As is said in the article – http://world.edu/far-from-bust-five-ways-moocs-are-helping-people-get-on-in-life/ – MOOCS have been a bed test for developing high quality online learning materials and I believe also a good way to try online pedagogical strategies that may be used and adapted to formal courses as well.

The article points out some of the critiques: the fact that many people enrol but easily drop out (or just remain as lurkers); that the courses lack credibility to employers; that MOOCs are a hype fashion, etc.

I suppose that in spite of many drop outs or little engagement, as the number of enrolments is so high even a small percentage of those who remain motivated and effectively participate  mean a large number of people, compared to a traditional formal course, we are dealing with another scale.

A MOOC can’t be compared to a formal year long course, since it’s much shorter in duration and can be pretty intensive in interaction.

I think MOOCs fulfill a good learning experience (depending on the motivation and personal investment of the learner), it’s an excellent opportunity to engage in a well prepared course and  in a conversation with so many different people around the world from different continents and cultural backgrounds.

I agree that MOOCs’ participants have a high cultural and educational background and we may wonder if they help much to democratize education worldwide, but the potential remains, open to spread the seed.

In the article there are other links for other articles and sources, like this article by a professor who transferred his MOOC experience to his formal courses at the university – http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveblank/2014/02/10/what-i-learned-by-flipping-the-mooc/; or this other professor – https://www.class-central.com/report/caltech-mooc-flipped-classroom/ , who says «I do not view a Caltech MOOC as an attempt at mass education. I view it as an attempt at mass targeting of talent. Anyone in the world, with the aptitude and discipline to take this course, will get a genuine sample of what Caltech education is like.».

Another article focus on the advantage of MOOCs for professional training – https://theconversation.com/developing-countries-and-the-mooc-learning-revolution-19355 – «MOOCs as a way professionals can extend their professional knowledge, rather than as only an adjunct to undergraduate courses and secondly by gaining insight into how people plan and perform learning activities within these new environments.»

Studies on MOOCs have been carried out, like  this australian study – http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/sydney13/program/papers/Marrone.pdf – «This paper outlines a preliminary scoping exercise that surveyed how good practice principles around cultural inclusion are currently incorporated into online learning, and more specifically, into Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Combining good practices principles for learning and teaching across cultures and elements of Universal Instructional Design, this small-scale survey of courses provided on four MOOC platforms – Coursera, Udacity, Open2Study and edX – looks at determining what can be considered good culturally inclusive practice. The aim of the project is to establish minimum standards and examples of good practice that can form the benchmarks for all online units.»

No matter what might be said about MOOCs, the fact is that a phenomenon happened in a short period of time, since the first MOOC in 2006 and I believe the future ahead will bring us more good news from MOOCs – I’m starting my 26th MOOC next September.

An interview to the founder of OERU about the sustainability of a future Open Education across the world

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150822074220204

The initiative has already 10 years but it seems that has only produced one graduation course. The expectations have fallen short, from my point of view, though the values and principles that ground it are to be praised.

In spite of the «close» aspect of elearning platforms and big consortia (Coursera, edX, etc), we can’t minimize the opportunity that has been given to many people around the world to join multiple learning experiences, in multiple knowledge areas, with a good quality standard. These MOOCs don’t aim to grant degrees as OERU wishes to do in a free and open way, to many students in developing countries who have no opportunity to enrol in universities, nontheless they have reached many people, across the world and are open to anyone.

As for the «logins», any space you create in any tool requires it, so what used to be an obstacle became mainstream and I don’t think it is a big issue any longer. As citizens we have to login to pay taxes and to many other institutional services. As professionals we have to login to our job platforms.

It’s true that once the courses of these big Consortia close you don’t have access to them, but you can always organize yourself, i.e. maintaining an e-portfolio, downloading resources or collecting them in other online tools that you can manage, writing reflections on the activities and discussions in your own blog. So, I suppose it’s not a big issue.

I agree that to leave the courses open has its advantage for the participants, but after a few months I suppose that only few participants will access them. There are new challenges and courses to engage and people move forward.

So, I think that the most important is to help people organize themselves to become autonomous and defend themselves of any sort of centralization or dependence (if that is possible).

The more MOOCs and learning initiatives you have at your disposal, the better. It’s up to oneself to choose.

The University of Iowa is going to launch a new MOOC «How writers write Fiction», by the end of September 2015.

The MOOC «How writers write Poetry» was a good experience and I’ve already enrolled in this next one.

http://iwp.uiowa.edu/iwp-courses/distance-learning-courses/fall-2015/how-writers-write-fiction

MOOCs for Development

Posted: August 25, 2015 in Moodle MOOC posts

An article about MOOCs’ costs, promoted by big universities and consortia and a new elearning platform for developing countries, promoted by the Commonwealth for Learning (CoL).

MOOCs for Development – http://acreelman.blogspot.pt/2015/08/moocs-for-development.html

Discussions about MOOCs high costs seem to me fallacious, since most of the courses are included in the current offer of institutions and the platforms are highly monetized with a great number of courses and thousands of participants. And some entities have offered MOOCs out of platforms, just using free tools and social media, and they work as well or even better than the ones on closed platforms.

In fact, I believe that MOOCs play an important role regarding HE institutions marketing, better than any paid advertisement (which has high costs).

I consider that a MOOC requires a careful planning and previous preparation which may involved a smaller or larger team of professors and technical support and requires an extra effort of monitoring hundreds and thousands of participants (though most of them are lurkers) along the course, but HE institutions can project a visibility and gain many supporters involving so many participants that benefit of the quality of these courses.

The fact that many of the MOOCs already offer a low cost certification may help to reduce the MOOCs’ costs as well, even if only a small number of participants require certification it may correspond to a big number related to the mass of enrolments.

Regarding the new elearning platform  – http://mookit.co/ – it seems to me that there are already many free and open source platforms available, it’s just one more.

A participant in a developing country with low access to the Internet or  communication failures will always face problems with any platform or online service. So, the important issue is to provide resources in multiple formats to overcome the demand of multimedia resources from the informatics systems and communications networks, and guarantee the inclusion of all participants (with and without disabilities).

Nice animations on a Whitman’s poem. I particularly enjoyed the last one.

An intervention by Audrey Waters at a Scratch Conference, about technology criticism and many citations of Seymour Papert

http://hackeducation.com/2015/08/15/criticism/

«One of the flaws Papert identifies in “technocentrism” is that it gives centrality to the technology itself, reducing people and culture to a secondary level. Instead “computer criticism” should look at context, at systems, at politics, at power.»

«As I was rereading Papert’s 1987 essay in preparation for this talk, I was struck – as I often am by his work – of how stuck ed-tech is. I mean, here he is, some 30 years ago, calling for the LOGO community to develop a better critique, frankly an activist critique about thinking and learning. “Do Not Ask What LOGO Can Do To People, But What People Can Do With LOGO.” Papert’s argument is not “why everyone should learn to code.”

Papert offers an activist critique. Criticism is activism. Criticism is a necessary tactic for this community, the Scratch community specifically and for the ed-tech community in general. It was necessary in 1987. It’s still necessary today – we might consider why we’re still at the point of having to make a case for ed-tech criticism too. It’s particularly necessary as we see funding flood into ed-tech, as we see policies about testing dictate the rationale for adopting devices, as we see the technology industry shape a conversation about “code” – a conversation that focuses on money and prestige but not on thinking, learning. Computer criticism can – and must – be about analysis and action. Critical thinking must work alongside critical pedagogical and technological practices. “Coding to learn” if you want to start there; or more simply, “learn by making.” But then too: making to reflect; making to think critically; making to engage with the world; it is from there, and only there, that we can get to making and coding to change the world.»

An article from eLearning Industry blog about the pedagogy of MOOCs

http://elearningindustry.com/the-pedagogy-behind-moocs-what-elearning-professionals-should-know

«What are the peculiarities of designing an online course that addresses to such a big audience? What does it mean in terms of instructional design? And is there an ideal pedagogy behind MOOCs? In this article, I’ll explain the peculiarities of an instructional design for “massive” learning, the different pedagogical approaches behind xMOOCs and cMOOCs, and I’ll show you how to motivate your learners in order to maximize the effectiveness of your MOOC courses and minimize dropout rates.»

And from the same author another previous article:

What Is Wrong With MOOCs? Key Issues To Consider Before Launching Your First MOOC

«Despite the extensive critique they have received since they first appeared back in 2008, without any doubt, MOOCs consist today the latest trend in online learning. As MOOC initials stand for Massive Open Online Courses, by definition, they raise some key issues for which eLearning professionals who want to keep up-to-date with latest trends in the field may need further clarification. In this article, I’ll discuss these key definition issues, I’ll explain why MOOCs have not received the expected attention up to present, and I’ll highlight the critiques they have received as important factors to consider before launching your first MOOC course.»

13 free websites and apps you can use to educate yourself to avoid university tuition fees and costly living expenses – http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/13-free-websites-and-apps-you-can-use-to-educate-yourself-to-avoid-university-tuition-fees-and-costly-living-expenses-10438134.html