Hold the R-word

Distance learning is nothing new, e-learning is nothing new, free online learning materials are nothing new, and yet there is a lot of talk about the Massive Open Online Course bringing revolution, if not, forcing Higher Education to evolve.

There is a lot of venture capital going to educational technology. That means that a  lot of people have an interest in talking about a revolution. But what can we learn from the success of massive free courses and from the way they are being discussed?

Some universities are producing young people with debt (see: Clay Shirky), rather than with degrees. When free courses by big name institutions come along, that seems really promising, but which part of higher education can a MOOC replace? And why has this happened, in the USA (other countries have other Higher Ed models)?

There is a huge audience “yearning” for higher learning. This might not be the people who we normally conceive of as “students” in higher education.

In some course designs peer-to-peer organization of Q&A is seen as the solution for the fact that the teacher can’t be everywhere, and in some set-ups, this “peeragogy” (See Howard Rheingold and colleagues) is a central value. Anyhow, the question as to whether this interaction between participants leads anywhere remotely similar to a guided conversation with an “expert”, is being debated –especially by people coming from the Humanities. Tip: blogs by faculty members actually enrolling in a MOOC are good reads.

Some voices say that the evolution to watch in relation with MOOCs, takes place in the publishing sector.

This post is a short write-up of a few themes that I just have to get rid of before the new #edcmooc weekly topic rolls around. Some sloppy referencing and half ideas. So sorry.


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