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What’s wrong with (M)OOCs?

When Stephen Downes and I ran Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2008, the term MOOCs (massive open online course) was coined – by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander – to describe open online courses with fairly high registration numbers. Open online conference that we were offering at University of Manitoba, and courses offered by David Wiley and Alec Couros, served as a fairly natural foundation for the development of MOOCs. Since then, a growing number of educators have offered similar types of courses: EC & I831, CCK09, Critical Thinking, EdFutures, PLENK, NANEC, and others that I’m sure I’m missing (please add them to the comments and I’ll update). Soon to be offered MOOCs include: CCK11 (Stephen Downes/George Siemens, Learning Analytics (George Siemens/Jon Dron/Dave Cormier), Digital Storytelling (Jim Groom), Open Education (Rory McGreal/George Siemens), and Personal Learning Environments (Wendy Drexler/Chris Sessums). There are likely others. A few formal organizations – such as Peer 2 Peer University – are attempting to duplicate the traditional university model with open courses.

Do we have a revolution yet??

Well, it’s great to see increased attention to, and adoption of, open learning. Open content is a first step in openness. Open learning/teaching is the next. Open accreditation models is then the logic third step. However, most of the analysis of open courses to date is disappointing. We are, as in any new relationship, enamoured with the attributes that we will later find to be annoying. The focus now is on the thrill of teaching in open courses, of serendipitous contributions, of feeling connected to people from around the world, of the “massive” numbers, etc. All of these things are very nice. But what the primary intent of any course: the learning?

I have three significant concerns about MOOCs…concerns that facilitators will eventually need to address in order to extend the impact of open courses:

1. MOOCs suffer from high drop out rates and declining participation as the courses progresses. I highlight this trend toward the end of this presentation. Is this declining participation a concern? Perhaps not – MOOCs don’t have the participation barriers of traditional courses (fees), so learners are able to jump in, sample, take what they want, and move on. However, we don’t know if that’s what’s happening. We have four distinct research teams involved in assessing PLENK10, so we should have a better understanding of the reasons for dropouts in the next several months. However, at this stage, we don’t know if reduced participation is a function of course design, pedagogy, learner interests, or other factors.

2. MOOCs require a reasonably high degree of technical skill. Dave, Stephen, and I have offered MOOCs in various platforms (Drupal, Elgg, Moodle, WordPress, customized software, etc). Some of the most effective software tools (gRSShopper and The Daily) were written by Stephen. If MOOCs have any prospect of moving beyond the domain of interest of a few technically proficient educators, the process has to become “push button easy”. This presents a bit of a problem, however. Open courses are open – anyone can use any tool to participate. If we strive to make the courses easier to offer, we will likely place some constraints on the tools and processes. For example, I offered a course (Teaching and Learning in Social and Technological Networks) to a group of staff/faculty at Athabasca University. The course was delivered in Elgg. Overall, the course was successful in somewhat reducing the confusion of earlier wild-west MOOC offerings. Deciding when and what manner of constraints to apply to MOOCs requires balancing potential benefits with drawbacks. Too much structure and too many constraints and suddenly we are offering traditional courses.

3. In theory, MOOCs scale social learning by increasing opportunities for peers to help each other. However, in most courses I’ve been involved with, a group of learners expresses their frustration at feeling disconnected and lost. Perhaps this is due to the unique attributes of open courses (learners assisting each other, complexity of interaction, multiple platforms for conversations, and so on). Or perhaps this is due to course design – i.e. we need to better plan for social learning support. Bringing new learners into the MOOC experience requires some level of support. We could say that this confusion is natural and learners need to accept it as part of transitioning from classroom models of learning to online, empowered learning models. But even then, we require better transitional support than MOOCs current offer. Or, we could plan for more structured interventions or social recommendations (i.e. “based on your profile, you might want to connect with Jane”).

A group of us who have offered open courses in the past (Alec Couros, Jim Groom, Stephen Downes, David Wiley, Dave Cormier, and I…yes, we are aware of the male-centric nature of that list. Any suggestions of female-led MOOCs are appreciated) are meeting on Monday, December 20 to discuss lessons learned in delivering open courses and potential next steps. If you’re interested, feel free to drop in:
Time: 11 am Mountain Time (conversions)
Location: Elluminate


  1. Steve Philp wrote:

    I’ve been using GAFE with my primary (elementary) staff for the past term and it’s struck me how easy to use it is – it looks and feel very similar to Microsoft products which helped the teachers feel at home with it. It’s more like using an online blank sheet of paper, then a content-protected system such as Moodle or Blackboard (which I’m obliged to use in my own study).

    I think the bigger problem is motivation – as motivation levels change during a course (which is inevitable as student’s situations change), it is only face-to-face or some sense of community that will get people through the ‘tough times’.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  2. Alan Levine wrote:

    Thanks for sharing your out loud thinking on MOOCs. My first thought is its easy to focus on the “dropouts” rather than the success of those that stayed with it, and points to a need of needing to think differently about whether a “dropout” really means as much as it does in a standard course. I also think its a bit misleading to have the “M” be part of the acronym- its interesting to have a large world wide audience, but hardly necessary. But hey, you cannot really reel in an acronym.

    To me a missing piece is the challenge of creating the stake that a learner has in a MOOC- not paying for a course, not working with a grade or credit as incentive, it falls completely on an individual’s own internal drive to participate, and to do so fully.

    Another aspect, to me, is that the cited MOOCs are still rather course-ish in structure and designed- fixed start and end dates, weekly lectures/assignments, the syncopation and beat of a regular course.I dont have an idea of other ways to build this, but am keen to see/hear ideas.

    And also, as I know its been a concern for you, is the reliance on the instructors to lead and provide structure the experience.

    Thanks to all youse guys who are pushing the frontier. These are the early days we may look back from in the future as being both exciting and quaint. So yes, keeping doing what will make for future nostalgia.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Andreas Link wrote:

    George, a small side remark: I know some people in the whole world (e.g. in eastern europe) who are interested in such courses, take part in it and also do their homework very much. They can read and understand to some extent but write badly English. Therefore they seem to be ‘lurkers’ (one of your last articles). Can/must I simply presuppose a complete communication-skill? Or can I tie in the participants despite their difficulties somehow?

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Eric Calvert wrote:

    I think the traditional metrics for evaluating the success of a course are a bad fit for MOOCs. Rather than looking at course “completion,” (not relevant if a participant only intended to participate in one or two topics to begin with), have you considered looking at proxy measures of impact? E.g. where and how content originally generated for the MOOC gets reused and reintegrated elsewhere? (CCK09, for example, had a high attrition rate, but content from the class is still being passed around.)

    One other random note: I’ve had students who don’t seem to leave a mark in the MOOCs pull stuff into my classes from CCK and PLENK. It could be that there’s an invisible subset of undergrad and grad students who are gleaning ideas from the MOOCs (and would look like lurkers or dropouts to you), but who are “interacting” with it elsewhere. In other words, they’re not discussing it in the MOOC, but in a program elsewhere where they’re actually enrolled. They’re reading and watching in the MOOC, but writing and discussing within other networks.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  5. danieljimenez wrote:

    I totally agree with A. Link. Language is, for many people, a key barrier to fuller participation. Ok, lurking is the disease, but also can be symptom. My personal experience is that the low english competence difficults the participation.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
  6. Tony Searl wrote:

    George, I’ve dipped into and out of (lurked?) around OOCs since 2008, possibly due to lacking those higher order technical skills.

    Feeling for the ‘right’(best?) time to contribute a tentative thought and risk it being out of established context is also a concern.

    Time zones, especially for the ‘only curious let’s see how this works’, can be a disincentive to initiate.

    5am tomorrow is not by itself difficult or impossible, but not always intrinsically desirable either!

    As data exhaust becomes richer and clearer so will the reasons for engagement with learning opportunities. How to capture maximum data, regardless of preconceived ideas of quality, around MOOcs? Will particpants cede their data to allow that analysis?

    Quick, offer a OOC now,I’m on holidays for a while.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  7. gsiemens wrote:

    @Steve – yes, motivation is important. But I think similar concerns exist in a regular course. What’s different in an open course is that the push of “I paid for this course” that is found in a traditional course doesn’t help learners through the tough periods. Perhaps we need to rethink what it means to participate in a course. I tried to get at this in my post – i.e. that we don’t know what reduced participation means. Is it negative? A function of the course format?

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  8. gsiemens wrote:

    @Alan – great points about participation (i.e. those that stay), the current “course-like” feel of moocs, and the “m” in moocs. I’d also like to see other domains try the course format. Most open courses that I’ve seen have been somehow related to educational technology. Where is the mathematics mooc? Or biology?

    wrt to course-like feel – I don’t yet know how to address this. We wanted to move away from courses with start/stop times and set assignments in CCK08. But, whether driven by instructor or learner interests, we were quickly nudged back to the course format.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  9. gsiemens wrote:

    @Andreas, Daniel – the language barrier is important to acknowledge. moocs have learners from many different regions, languages. Some of the tools for reducing language barriers (Google Translate) make this a bit easier. In other instances, particularly in PLENK10, students end up creating small sub-networks for their native language. I think this is wonderful – why should learners learn in the language of the instructor? Openness allows for greater degrees of personal learning.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  10. gsiemens wrote:

    @eric – this is an important point: “They’re reading and watching in the MOOC, but writing and discussing within other networks”

    I’ve noticed that to some degree as well. We don’t exist within single networks. Activities in one domain may flow into other networks. Which makes it rather difficult to track, as you note, things like influence. Radian6, viralheat, and other social media monitoring services may provide a bit of insight into what a system for tracking influence across multiple networks might look like.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  11. gsiemens wrote:

    @Tony – timing does matter. Often, the times where we offer our moocs, the audience that is most interested in the course are not able to participate because they are busy with their own teaching.

    We tried to address time zones by recording sessions and encouraging participants in different zones to organize synchronous activities themselves. Not ideal solutions, but better than getting up at 3 am to attend a mooc session :) .

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink
  12. Nick Kearney wrote:

    I am interested in the boundaries. And the terminology.
    You still call it a “course”. It is still structured, activity is proposed by a course “designer”, there are people with names who run the course. And the failures you describe, and the solutions you propose point towards more structure, rather than less.
    I wonder where the limits are. I follow a series of people online, who make a range of coherent, sequential comments and postings across a range of channels that constitute distributed conversations around subjects that interest me. I learn from, and perhaps, through the comments I make, with these people. And I extend that conversation myself across a range of other channels. I suggest readings and sources in relation to the current conversation and read those, or some of those, that others post. The people I relate to are a shifting constellation of contacts, some of whom are aware of me, others not, and visa versa, I realize. Some are part of semi-structured networks others are people who are there, present in the network.
    Where does this turn into a MOOC? Is it the “weekly structure/weak structure” of it? Is it the personality at the heart of the course? Or is the agora effect, where the course aspect serves to bring people into certain discussion spaces in a given period, rather like the subject of Delicious did this week.
    Or is the MOOC really an exercise in meta-learning? Perhaps the most interesting lesson may be about how each of us likes to organize our learning?

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  13. DolorsCapdet wrote:

    Unfortunately tomorrow I can not attend the talk :( but I would like to leave some data:

    - NANEC2010 (November 4 to March 17 – UdIE/Universidad de Valencia (Spain)) is essentially based on a synchronous format (Elluminate/Second Life).
    - In this first month and a half, the motivation is high.
    - The active participation in the 16 synchronous sessions (9 Elluminate / 7 SL) is around 20-25%.
    - The asynchronous participation (LMS of U. Valencia) is approximately 15%.
    - A 20-25% of students not directly involved in sessions/forum have consulted with the tutor via e-mail and SL.
    - The 80-90% of the students have seen the recordings of Elluminate (in mp3, mp4, mov or Elluminate directly)
    - The 75% of the sessions are originally planned for one hour, but finally have a length close to three hours each.

    I hope that on the other two modules will remain the percentages. :)

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
  14. I like Nick’s question “Where does this turn into a MOOC?” SCoPE monthly seminars (and prior to that 1999 – 2003 GEN seminars) are rather MOOC like, except without an end date, and discussions are led by volunteers. I’m not sure about the M part. We have a world wide audience and there are many, many more people benefiting than contributing. Hey, is it a female-led MOOC? :-)

    We’ve talked about

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  15. gsiemens wrote:

    @Nick, Sylvia – the MOOC term, at least as it was coined when we ran CCK08, was based on the fact that the course was a typical university course that was opened to a broader audience. In contrast with community sites and PD sites (such as SCOPE), CCK08 was a for-credit course in a certificate program at U of M. Other open courses – Alec Couros, David Wiley – were/are also university courses that have been opened up to other participants. More recently – PLENK/EdFutures – were classified as MOOCs, but weren’t offered as part of an existing university program. Once that happens, the difference between SCOPE/MOOCs blurs significantly.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink
  16. gsiemens wrote:

    Thanks Dolors for sharing info about participation in NANEC!

    Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  17. Great reflections, George and great comments everyone. As an online MOOC facilitator (WikiEducator, SCoPE, WiZiQ, and IT4ALL) and participant of the MOOC (2008-2010) and SCoPE workshops, I relate Sylvia Currie’s comments. Sylvia is an awesome online lady who facilitates with a softness that I believe is necessary in a MOOC workshop. The findings of my research study on instructor experiences with implementing technology in blended learning courses in higher education (available on Proquest) seem to indicate that learners need ongoing online instructor support. I would like to see instructors involved in supporting onliine learners in CCK11. I’m sure many experienced online facilitators such as Syvia and Nick could provide answers so that the next MOOCs will not suffer from high drop out rates and declining participation as the courses progresses. In fact, I would consider the skills required to facilitate MOOC workshops.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink
  18. Initially I also thought that the decrease of active participants is a conceptional problem of MOOC. Today it seems to be more a problem of personal expectations for me.

    As course participants often I want to participate in all course issues and activities. At each conference with parallel sessions that is not possible. If the size of a participants group in a seminar grows I can’t join all discussions. I have to decide where to participate and where not.

    At MOOC I also tried to read and follow all discussions at first. But its really not possible. So I redefined my expectations: read what seems to be interesting and ignore the rest, limit the time per day/week.

    MOOC is a massive challenge for personal organization. Some huge conferences offers a starting session for first time participants: how to make the best from your visit at the conference. Such a session has three objectives:
    - getting in contact to others
    - getting an overview about topics and structures
    - concentrating on some and not all topics.
    Perhaps something like this will be helpfull for MOOC courses.

    Another point is more generally about open learning scenarios. In traditional seminars people have to participate from beginning to the end. In open learning scenarios they can choose the interesting topics and ignore all others. They can start when they like to do it an they can stop if they got the answers they were looking for.

    If they stop they may have learned what they wanted to learn. They are ready with learning about the actual topics. They are successful.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 1:42 am | Permalink
  19. Just wanted to pick up on Alan’s comment:

    “nother aspect, to me, is that the cited MOOCs are still rather course-ish in structure and designed- fixed start and end dates, weekly lectures/assignments, the syncopation and beat of a regular course.I dont have an idea of other ways to build this, but am keen to see/hear ideas.”

    Personally, as a a learner, I’m okay with the formalized structure. One of the values of taking a structured course with start/end dates & fixed deadlines is that it then provides a motivating force for me to participate. If left too open, I tend to procrastinate/get distracted/lose focus, and the structure helps me maintain focus. Nothing motivates me like a deadline.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 8:09 am | Permalink
  20. Lisa M Lane wrote:

    George asks where the biology or math moocs are.

    Who would teach them?

    Few biologists or mathematicians (or historians, for that matter) are as fascinated with the format of the course itself, or as intrigued by a discipline course offering that has meta-considerations.

    It’s these meta-considerations you focus on with your concerns: high “drop-out” rates, technical skills, and course structure. The MOOCs have thus far focused on ed tech (with the exception of Stephen’s Critical Thinking) because it’s primarily ed tech folks who are interested in such considerations within the context of the internet platform for global learning.

    Reduce the possibilities to those already teaching online, because they already have the technical skills and the interest in online pedagogy. Maybe. Because most profs teaching online are poorly paid part-timers teaching canned courses for the large for-profit schools. They do not spend much time developing their own pedagogy, and focus on the skills required for the course by a “course design team”.

    So reduce the number again to those who create their own pedagogy and course design, and who also teach online courses in traditional disciplines. I can tell you, because I am one, the numbers are not huge.

    Then reduce again to those who are actually internet and technologically-savvy. Time is limited if you are actually employed, particularly full-time, teaching discipline-based classes. My own career as a historian has been partly eclipsed by my new, unpaid career as a promoter of instructor-created online pedagogies and my leadership in that area at my college.

    So take me as an example. I would love to offer a History MOOC, I have the technology skills, and I understand how to build a course using the pedagogy modeled by all of you. I am a big fan of open education. What holds me back are: workload, separation of enrolled and unenrolled students, assessment, contractual obligation to “cover” material transferrable to university, copyright issues, and the concern of my institution about FERPA and other privacy things.

    So let’s just say that while I am actively seeking a way to turn at least one of my classes into a true MOOC, the challenges are pretty huge. If you aren’t a teacher of educational technology, a professor with a low teaching load and research expectations that can permit you to focus on the meta-considerations of a MOOC, or someone with external funding, the other “qualifications” may not be enough.

    Monday, December 20, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  21. José Mota wrote:

    I think your 3rd point is the most important and has a high impact on the drop out rate. I also agree with Nellie Deutsche that without a more structured support for learning it’s too difficult for a great number of people to keep up with the course.

    I had a first comment but it grew too big, so I made a post instead at

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink
  22. “MOOCs suffer from high drop out rates and declining participation as the courses progresses” – why are high drop-out rates presented as negative? Open courses are open. That is, they have very low entry and exit requirements. This naturally leads to people trying many things quickly and culling out quickly.

    To use an analogy, most content on Wikipedia is in discarded old versions people worked with for a while and then abandoned for something more fitting.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  23. Is the recording of your Monday session available?

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  24. Andreas Link wrote:

    @Maria – The Monday session recording:

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  25. Scot Aldred wrote:

    Thanks George for raising the issues with (M)OOCs and I would be interested to learn of the research outcomes you and others are pursuing in this area once they are published.

    I think that what we are currently doing in this area, is attempting to replicate what has been done previously for a while in proprietary courses designed for profit (universities and private providers)and not recognising the different relationships that are at play on an open, personal learning environment.
    This is of course a natural part of the innovation and transformation process and one does not need to go back too far to see previous examples of this occurring in education. When online education became possible around 1995, we ( my organisation) rushed to “shovel” our existing print-based distance courseware into an html/pdf alternative that would save us (universities) money in printing and distribution costs and continue the existing educational paradigm. After a few years we came to realise (at least some of us did) that online learning was a very different environment than its print-based distance learning predecessor.

    In terms of (M)OOCs, I would argue that the motivation for learning is almost 100% intrinsic and that a large course that follows a similar design to those offered by universities does not meet the needs of many of these learners. Given that course designers and moderators are unpaid for their efforts, and that learners are not penalised for withdrawal by fees or academic sanctions, we need to look at the structure and design assumptions, and modify these kinds of offerings accordingly.

    If we begin to think of learning as a multiple of small learning experiences with learner selected multiple pathways that best meet the needs of individual learners, then we open up the possibilities of a group of course designers/moderators working as a loose collective (network) to provide learning opportunities where they themselves can learn from their colleagues (peers and “students”). It’s a lightweight alternative that reduces the unpaid workload and opens up the possibilities for exchange of ideas and perspectives from which all can learn.
    It is better for learners, as they can select their own learning pathways which increases their ownership and they can learn in small blocks which tends to better meet the needs of those who have multiple responsibilities and obligations (work, family, leisure etc.)

    Finally, you’ll notice that I’ve used the terms “student” and “course designer/moderator”. These are terms that have come out of an old paradigm and they carry with them some baggage that relates to power differential. I would argue that we need to rethink the terms we use in this open learning environment and begin to examine terms that better represent a more equal relationship between participants.

    Thanks again George and all the other contributors to what is an increasingly relevant discussion in learning and education.



    Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  26. Doug Belshaw wrote:

    Having just been looking at the SOLO model ( I wonder if it might explain some of the criticisms based, essentially, upon “I can’t cope!”

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 3:40 am | Permalink
  27. Alan Cooper wrote:

    There *was* actually a Math OOC running out of P2PU concurrently with PLENK2010. But I think it suffered from a lack of compatible goals among the participants.

    For a shared learning exercise to be effective, there need to be specific learning objectives which are either shared or mutually reinforcing (as in “I want to learn X and you want to practice explaining it”), and in this case the course population wasn’t large enough to enable most participants to find compatible groups to work with.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 4:23 am | Permalink
  28. gsiemens wrote:

    @Ralph – your point about expectations is important. We frequently make the statement during moocs that “it’s impossible to read everything…start relying on networks to help you filter”. This gets to a larger issue about moocs in relation to other courses: to what degree are the “problems” we see with moocs a function of a transition period or to what degree are they concerns that need to be addressed as weaknesses of moocs. For example, when individuals take a second mooc, they seem to be more comfortable with the format and quickly find their role and participation rhythm. If that’s broadly the case, then we don’t really need to worry about declining participation as a weakness of moocs – perhaps it’s simply an issue of people needing to experience the process once and break away from traditional course mindsets. Once learners have experienced an open course, and adjusted their expectations of what a facilitator does and what a participant does, then the learning experience can continue outside of the shadow of expectations defined by traditional courses.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  29. gsiemens wrote:

    @Clint – one of the frustrations I have with discussion about openness is that the view less structure and more openness is always good. But it’s not. Constraints can be very helpful in the learning process. In fact, constraining peripheral conditions so as to not impact learning important aspects of a domain is at the heart of effective learning design. How do we balance openness with constraint/control? Android/iPhone are a good example of extreme approaches to openness/constraint. Both produce certain outcomes that appeal to certain individuals. An open course is obviously different from mobile operating systems, but some level of structure, coupled with choice and openness, needs to exist. How an educator balances these two elements is obviously related to context, instructor comfort, topic area, learner profile, etc.

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  30. gsiemens wrote:

    @Lisa – good points about why moocs are generally focused on education/technology. Time/schedule, contract obligations, etc. are systemic concerns that somewhat mirror concerns about any teaching with technology. I recall being involved in many meetings in the late 90′s that focused on faculty issues with using technology: release time, student contact hours, and so on. Contractual/faculty/legal issues simply require time to work through the system – I don’t see too many short cuts here!

    The other aspect that you emphasize – skills – are less of a challenge, I think. Again, going back to the late 90′s – early online courses were generally offered by faculty with reasonably developed technical skills. As tools became easier to use and growing numer of faculty started using the web, the diversity of courses offered increased. I think we’ll see something similar with moocs. At this stage we really don’t have easy to use “click button” tools for facilitators (kind of like online teaching with webpages before discussion forums and grade books came together in somet-type of LMS).

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  31. gsiemens wrote:

    @José – thanks for the link to your post. As a few others have noted, educators face numerous pressures that make it quite difficult to participate in open courses. I think your statement “Without a compelling reason (or several) to fulfill the tasks required and to invest a certain number of hours each week, most of them won’t reach even a minimal level of engagement and of task completion” is accurate. Committing 40+ hours over the duration of a MOOC requires a motivated learner…

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  32. gsiemens wrote:

    @Scot – we’ve grappled with terms like “course” and “learner” since CCK08. We haven’t found suitable replacements yet! I recall one thread during CCK08 explored different terms and concepts to replace “courses”: events, happenings, etc. Language is easier to appropriate than to create from scratch :) .

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  33. luz pearson wrote:

    I comment on this post to provide with an example for the drop-out issue, the lurkers, the traditional numbers/results that courses give and MOOCs don’t (so we have “problems”).

    I comment so you see me. I’m here, involved, doing, thinking with you, learning. But really, so many ideas in this thread and as MOOC problems are a topic I’m working on, I need a little time. I’m writing a chapter for a book about reinv2010 (a MOOCs´ son I’ve designed and facilitated) and reflecting on some of the ideas written here (some are new approachs, thanks!).

    Now you see me, but in this kind of moment of a learning process in a MOOC you wouldn’t see me. I would be silent, in my own process.

    I´d have the face a student has in class when the teacher asks: “Are you following? Need help?” But in a MOOC I would be trying to solve it by myself (or me+peers+google).

    When we see problems in MOOCs we are talking about issues traditional courses also may have. Drop-outs? Even with much more structured courses and a paper for accreditation , we drop-out. In my country good education is for free (national universities in Argentina are free) dropping out is common: we drop-out because we have much work, we don´t like the teacher or whatever…is common dropping out. My experience tells me that is not so important for staying in a course the lack of accreditation as the lack of payment.

    And the main issue: for autonomy learning we need to learn. We have been learning (or not!) with teachers and syllabus telling us what to do, in MOOCs we need to find coherence and make sense by ourselves. That is a lot of work and a skill we need to develop. How? May be, lurking or dropping out of MOOCs for a while.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  34. luz pearson wrote:

    @george asked for biology MOOCs…what about MIT OPEN COURSEWARE?

    I don´t see the facilitator or MOOC design there, just courses material published. Do you know about a teacher who have used those materials to run a biology MOOC?

    Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink