Making Sense of MOOCs is a 20 page report (with 6 pages of citations) written in Sept 2012. The report is a lengthy read but offers some good context and insights about the current state of MOOCs from a long term veteran of on-line higher education.
The author, Sir John Daniel, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for services to higher education in 1994, holds 31 honorary doctorates and was Vice-Chancellor of the UK Open University (an accredited and highly respected distance learning university in Europe) from 1990-2001. He has been deeply involved with higher education distance learning for over two decades.
The author states that the report is certainly not definitive given the highly dynamic state of MOOCs.
There is a claim of "58,000" enrolled students in Thrun/Norvig's first AI class that I found distracting, but upon reflection, realized may be a typo for "158,000". I found the 'pre-MOOC' history and referrences to failed attempts at HE Distance Learning to be particularly interesting.
PDF link: Making Sense of MOOCs
This came up in a thread in the Introduction to Mathematical Thinking forum recently.
I especially liked Prof. Keith Devlin's response in the forum:
Some more tidbits:
I think the author completely misses the idea that completion rates for paid courses are almost certain to be higher because of the financial commitment involved. (I'm sorry, but I consider this so obvious that I think a lack of acknowledgment of this point is an indicator of bias and making a "dishonest" argument)
I need to learn more about the UK Open University. One of the contributors on the Quantum Computing forums made multiple positive statements about it.
Despite some complaints, I think this paper is a great addition to the conversation. The list of references cited is overwhelming (and provides many leads for further reading).
answered 02 Oct '12, 11:58
I agree with @rseiter that Daniel appears to have some biases in his analysis that I would disagree with. The largest one for me is that Daniel compares xMOOCs to an ideal that is basically an on-line version of a traditional university with the end goal of completion/granting of a degree. IMHO the xMOOCs do not have that as an explicit objective right now and perhaps never will.
If we clearly separate the educational objectives of mass dissemination of knowledge, effective individual learning, and individual accreditation, we may find that distinct forms of organizations are optimal for each of the objectives and that it is economically feasible for distinct forms of each to co-exist in the internet space (or not). That is the experimental adventure that MOOCs are currently embarked upon, an attempt at a real paradigm shift, it seems to me.
Much of the commentary that I've seen about MOOCs implicitly assumes that all 3 objectives must be addressed by a single form of organization and Daniel's paper reflects that point of view IMHO.
Nonetheless, I did find much worthwhile information in Making Sense of MOOCs . As @rseiter points out, it is 'a great addition to the conversation'.
answered 02 Oct '12, 14:01
Norm Deplume ♦
You might find Stephen Downes' comments on this blog post interesting:
answered 02 Oct '12, 17:35