Thoughts and Reflections after attending: MOOCS – Which Way Now? ALT MOOC SIG Conference – 27 June 2014

After attending the MOOCS – Which Way Now? ALT MOOC SIG Conference on 27 June 2014 my mind was extra full of thoughts and new ideas.  There is a record of the day through my own Storify summary and original programme as well as blog posts such as Claire Sewell’s.

The reoccurring themes of the day were:

  • What are the drivers for institutions providing moocs?
    • Marketing
    • Reaching new learners
    • To interest and guide towards existing provision
    • To provide education to those who are not normally able to access paid for courses
  • How to develop existing MOOCS further / Impacts of MOOCS:
    • Expand upon a storytelling experience (Aidan Johnston)
    • To develop a network of practice, ideas and knowledge collaboratively (ICT in Schools): (Diana Laurillard).
      • This made me think could this be conceptualised as an educational being shared? 
    • How to enable personalised learning and grouping rather than a mass-conversation (Diana Laurillard)
      • Big data could be sharing of small-scale data
    • Need for moved from trying out online learning to thinking about pushing the barriers in pedagogy @amywoodgate (Amy Woodgate)
    • MOOCS could be Rhizomatic rather than linear (Frances Bell, Jenny Mackness / Dave Cormier)
    • Measuring MOOCS about life changes and not metrics (Curtis Bonk)
    • How to keep the momentum of a mooc going after it’s run (Pat Lockley)
  • Contexts of MOOCS
    • Universities emerged because people in cities wanted access to new technologies (eg books) says @fredgarnett. Are MOOCS disrupting this and offering an alternataive?  
    • Interest driven learning works says @fredgarnett they’ll follow their own interests and widen out. A guide ontheside not a sage.
  • Successes of MOOCS:
    • Good marketing for Universities and engaging the wider community
    • Actually enabling to reach educators across the globe –  @OpenUniversity course TESS India (Freda Wolfenden)
    •  (Matt Jenner)
    • How can you define MOOCS success – many ways(!)

      How to measure – cynical approach from Hellean Gillespea – can use all metrics to say they are successful – (Helena Gillespie) –  also read:  MOOC expectations and reality report.

  • Critical Views of MOOCS:
    • They are not solving the problem of distance education at scale  (Diana Laurillard)
    • Those accessing them already have ‘education’ / qualifications (Diana Laurillard)
    • Are MOOCS actually continuing  the 20th Centuary model of education? (Fred Granett)
    • I remember when MOOCs where all “we are going to teach the world”. Now it is “move into new markets” (Amy Woodgate)
    • Do we need a transporter so we can move content platforms? @amywoodgate issues with ‘not invented here syndrome?’ (James Little)
    • How to create MOOCS that are not all high-production values so that the average person can create them – moving past the spectacle of moocs and enabling MOOC-like courses to take place like existing distance learning cohorts (Elieen Kennedy)
    • less ‘swish’ video comes across as less corporate? Dilemma.. Would people think it’s amateurish if the ‘swishness’ was less? (James Little).
    • Drop out rate and moocs – trying to intervene: Sherif Halawa (Stanford).
      • My thoughts are that this might be trying to fix something which is actually inherently wrong with the way some moocs are implemented – not enough community and too self-directed?
    • Too much focus on moocs and money – it’s not about that (Matt Jenner) – see benefits above under successes of moocs.


So, after attending a conference and seeing all the themes and different and complementary views come out it’s time to make sense of them in a purposeful way – i.e. feed them into my current dissertation work on MOOCS.

Originally, last year I had wanted to focus on the pedagogy of MOOCS – but I think that analysis and comment around this (and critical voices around lack of applying existing distance learning pedagogy to MOOC activity) has already started to be covered in the literature.

What I see now is a need to understand how and why have been implemented at different institutions and for whom.

Further thoughts to come… (some of this is being worked on behind closed doors for the moment)…  but I hope to share more soon.

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