Apollo Amusing the Gods
There are myths about all technologies and innovations, and MOOCs, being very buzzworthy the past year, certainly have created a few.
An article in the EDUCAUSE Review
this month online has five MOOC myths it covers.
The quick list is:1. It's All about Money
2. MOOCs Create a Two-Tier Educational System
3. MOOCs Are Inherently Inferior
4. MOOCs Are Mechanistic
5. We've Seen How This Plays Out
We can argue if those are myths and if those are the five most important, but they all have some validity in being included in our MOOC discussion. You can read the article for details, but that fifth myth - We've Seen How This Plays Out
- is the one that most interested me.
Many in education (I hesitate to say "educators") quickly wrote off MOOCs as just another technology-related educational fad. Naysayers say that technology will not save education. Maybe education doesn't need saving, but the MOOC has been thrown into the mix with articles about predicting the end of education as we know it.
I suspect many of my readers have seen a presentation that includes some slide about how at one time the blackboard, phonograph, radio, films, television, VCR, CD, and online learning were going to revolutionize education. And they did not.
It turns out that most of these technologies have been more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I suspect the MOOC will follow that model.
But the article points out that one thing that might set MOOCs apart from earlier attempts to adapt technological innovation to education
is "their potential for enabling individualized learning." Rather than being ways of "packaging information," MOOCs might change the conventional classroom practice of presentation and delivery of content much more than online learning changed (or failed to change) it.
There are still plenty of sages on stages in higher education and in K-12 classrooms. The MOOC model might just change our focus from "where or from whom one receives instruction" to "how the learning process is designed."The MOOC is a disruptor, but
it may evolve into something else in a few years that really is a game-changer. If you believe in the Hype Cycle
, then you might look to other disruptors like Google, Amazon, Facebook, iPhone, iTunes, Netflix and even the Internet itself as disruptors that were once taken much less seriously and our now just part of our lives.Have we seen the MOOC before?
We certainly have seen big (though not massive) courses and free courses and lots of opportunities to learn online. But another consideration the article points us to is that the MOOC has occurred at a time when other trends are active in education. It might be more important to consider how MOOCs mix with these trends to be something more. The trends that seem to be converging now
along with the rise of the MOOC are: what the learning sciences are telling us about changing educational practices; a shift from seat-time to competency-based assessment models; the possible unbundling of knowledge acquisition from credits, credentials and degrees and a global economy where the current model just seems incompatible.
Finally, the article's author,