The MOOC Revolution May Be Over, But The Evolution Is Still Going Strong

Having just submitted the final version of a chapter for a book on MOOCs, I was pleased to see an article headlined "MOOC U: The Revolution Isn't Over" (excerpted from a book by Jeff Selingo). The article recalls a 2011 piece in The New York Times titled "Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course" about the artificial-intelligence class at Stanford University that got all the attention when 160,000 students in 190 countries took the Massive Open Online Course. That wasn't the first MOOC, but it was the one that got the mainstream media's attention. And the year of the MOOC and the MOOC-madness began.

In 2011-2013, I wrote a lot about MOOCs, taught in a MOOC environment, and did a good number of presentations to educators about the revolution. And I watched the rise and fall of the hype cycle for the phenomenon. That was what led my wife and I to collaborate on a chapter we titled "MOOCs: Evolution and Revolution." We don't believe the revolution is still on, but the evolution is certainly still with us.

Reading another article with the teaser headline, "The MOOC Where Everybody Learned", I continue to see that the skeptics still believe that students who succeed in MOOCs tend to have similar profiles. For one thing, they are students who are already well educated (holding degrees). Another common belief is that other students need coaching and academic support, possibly more of a hybrid course with face-to-face support.

But researchers MIT looked at a physics course (offered on the edX) in 2013 found that students who had spent significant time on the course showed evidence of learning no matter what their educational background.

What really surprised the researchers was that the MOOC students learned at a similar rate as did MIT students who had taken the on-campus version of a similar course. Yes, students who were not well-prepared students scored lower than those with more schooling, but all of them came away knowing more than they did before the MOOC.

Keep in mind that many MOOC participants don't enroll in a MOOC to get grades or credits. They are interested in learning.


Oregon State U To Offer MOOC for K-12 Educators

Oregon State University (OSU) will launch a massive open online course (MOOC) for K-12 educators this fall in partnership with Stanford University and the Oregon Department of Education.

The course, "Supporting English Language Learners under New Standards," will begin on October 1 and run for eight weeks. According to the university, it's intended to help K-12 teachers support English language learners, and it will focus on how English language learners construct claims supported by evidence, which is a key practice in both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards.

The course is open to teachers from around the world but may be of particular interest to those from the 11-state ELPA21 consortium, which is developing an assessment system based on the ELP Standards...


European Students and Employers Want More Web-Development MOOCs

Students, education providers, and employers call massive open online courses one of the best ways to learn web-development skills, according to a report released on Thursday by the European Commission.

The report, which drew on a survey of about 3,000 people, including 731 students, said that only one student in four was not familiar with MOOCs and that about 64 percent of the respondents had taken such courses.

Web-development courses appeared to be in high demand but were not always easy to find online. According to the report, only 56 MOOCs teach such skills throughout Europe, compared with 115 in the United States.

Most employers surveyed, including corporate managers, developers, and human-resources staff members, said MOOCs could help close a skills gap in web design. “They stressed the fact that in the current market it is especially difficult to find employees with domain-specific skills, iOS, Android, and HTML5 experts,” the report said.

For the most part, respondents rated MOOCs as more effective than colleges in teaching such skills.

cMOOC and xMOOC: Will They Blend?

dual layer
Ever visited the site? They literally blend things - like iPhones. They have powerful blenders, but they would not be able to blend the two types of Massive Open Online Courses.

George Siemens, a MOOC pioneer who is still deeply involved in them, wrote recently that is planning a MOOC for this fall (Data Analytics & Learning on edX), the topic of xMOOCs & cMOOCs and possibility of blending the two types was discussed.
His conclusion on that?

I’ve concluded that cMOOCs and xMOOCs are incompatible. They cannot be blended. Pedagogically and philosophically, they are too different. It’s like trying to make a cat a dog. Entertaining, perhaps, but a fruitless venture.
That doesn't mean he has given up on some redesign. Siemens suggests that the two can work "as parallel tracks where learners can navigate from one approach to another."

xMOOCs are the most popular now with the big MOOC providers (like Coursera and EdX) with module-based courses and traditional test-based assessments. It is impossible for a MOOC to be instructor-centered, but the design of the instruction and delivery is still much in control by the instructor(s).
In a cMOOC, the technology should a learner-centered system. That is harder to do with tens of thousands of learners.

Matt Crosslin (who participated in Siemens' "DesignJam") suggests that perhaps one day a platform will be able to offer a course that presents a learner with the option of choosing their path.
Maybe at some point an Artificial Intelligence data-driven program will even be able to recommend the path for them. Learners would enter one of the two paths and follow the paradigm presented. At any time that the learners on the cMOOC track need help (or at some point, when the AI data identifies a need), they can be directed towards the appropriate part of the xMOOC track for help. At any time the learners on the xMOOC track start to get comfortable with the idea of interacting with others (or the AI data identifies this), they can move into the cMOOC track.