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Saturday, April 13, 2013

MOOCs, Mini-MOOCs, and Beyond

It is easier than ever to offer a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC), with platforms such as Coursera, which are designed to handle hundreds of thousands of users, and to export data in a way that can be easily used within the information systems of colleges and universities.  Coursera currently hosts and delivers content for 63 universities, and they content is in Spanish as well as in English. While it is true that the universities could simply host the courses themselves, Coursera is uniquely positioned at this point to deal with the complexities and expense of massive bandwidth.

For colleges and learning organizations that want to use a cloud-based platforms that automates delivery of content and assessment, and contains an e-commerce solution, there are very easy-to-use solutions from  Profprofs, Mindflash, and others software platform providers.

The persistent anxiety surrounding academic integrity has been alleviated by the widely implemented ProctorU remote monitoring / proctoring system.

If 2012 was the "Year of the MOOC," what is 2013?  So far, MOOCs are continuing to be touted as a solution to community colleges' budget problems as certain MOOCs are evaluated and approved for transfer credit. Coursera now offers almost 400 courses, which makes it a convenient "one stop shopping" experience for online courses.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that Open Courseware has been around since the mid 1990s, and the course outlines, content, and recommended readings have served as the foundation for thousands of courses across thousands of colleges and universities worldwide.

MOOCs are ideal for colleges and universities seeking to showcase their popular professors, and elevate them to celebrity or guru status. It is a natural "upping the ante" of the "Great Courses" audio and videos of the past.

Mini-MOOCs: Specialties and perspectives change, and there are opportunities for associations and professional societies to develop MOOCs that help their own niche audience, particularly when there are huge paradigm-shifting technological changes that create new subspecialties, or allow innovation in others.

Further, the ever-changing regulatory environment, along with licensing requirements, makes continuing education and recertification a necessity. Enterprising associations that can help their members understand and proactively satisfy new requirements may also profit from offering MOOCs. It is important to make sure that MOOCs do not get stale; update them regularly and offer new ones in response to new business, technological, and regulatory conditions.

In the future, students may simply assemble their own courses based on approved components and submit them for approval and to satisfy prerequisites for taking licensing / certifying exams.

Whether or not MOOCs will put conventional colleges and online course providers out of business is yet to be seen. One rather doubts it; what will most likely happen is a surge in hybrid / blended learning experiences, with a portion of it consisting of standardized content delivery (and assessment), and the part that has to do with human contact obtain from a more specialized "niche" provider. In all of it, there will most likely be opportunities for face-to-face learning, either by small-groups that locally meet with a qualified facilitator, or in conferences and workshops.

Useful Articles on MOOCs: 

MOOCs for Credit

Problem in Paradise - Cheating in the MOOCs
ProctorU Attempts to Stop Cheating in Online Courses

"The Big Three, at a Glance"

MOOCs Have Been Around for Years
History Lessons

What Impact have MOOCs Had on Open Courseware?

Example of a c-MOOC (connectivist learning theory) -- starts with "What is connectivism?"
Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Dave Cormier

Facilitating a Massive Open Online Course (a c-MOOC)
Stephen Downes

George Siemens
Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

An X-MOOC focuses on Mastery

Massively Open Online Courses Are 'Here to Stay'
x MOOCs emphasize content mastery, centralizes courses on one website and uses automated grading tools to support hundreds of thousands of students.

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