So what’s a MOOC…?


I thought I better check this out since I’m talking about it the literacy and numeracy conference in Wellington next week.

According to the Wikipedia Entry on MOOCs:

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC; /muːk/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs).

Well it’s nothing to do with Cows…

Several years ago we decide to adopt the idea of open source software as a kind of metaphor for the way we needed to change our thinking about our intellectual property, in particular the course content for the qualification that we deliver.

One of the things that happened is we started looking for strategic partners to work with to “open source” our content. We figured that we had time to work with the existing business models in education to experiment, and get this set up, before who knows what happened to all of the current funding models.

It’s the economics of education that is driving content online in this way. That’s not a value judgement. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. It’s just the way things are.

There are all sorts of push and pull factors. But regardless of where you stand, the direction is clear. Online and blended is the way forward for education businesses. If you can’t accept that, I’m not sure you’ll survive.

In other words, that ship has already sailed. So… the question needs to be: How can we make this work for our learners, including the most vulnerable…?

Our MOOC is not massive. So it’s more of an OOC. An open online course. It is interactive, but we’re not trying to set up any kind of online community. And only part of it is open. There’s a strategy behind this. And it’s something we’ve been thinking about a lot and for a long time.

MOOCs aren’t perfect so we’ve put a few structures in place to make sure we can do the following:

  1. Get as many participants as possible started on the content.
  2. Retain a basic online business model that generates revenue via unbundling the assessment and credentialing processes from the content delivery.
  3. Ensure that learners are committed to completing the course at the point that they are ready to enrol (which is when they are ready to submit the first couple of assessment tasks).

What do you think…?


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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