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.