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eduMOOC: Online learning today…and tomorrow

Wonderful to see that (massive) open online courses (MOOCs) continue to be adopted by traditional universities and educators. Dave, Stephen, and I announced our Change MOOC starting in Fall 2011. Today, The Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield announced that they are offering a MOOC starting June 27: eduMOOC: Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow (sign up is free, right-hand side of the page).

With more people and universities experimenting with MOOCs, we’re starting to see new models for design and delivery. Jim Groom and Alan Levine’s (there are many others) DS106, for example, produced DS106 Radio – an innovative approach to involving others in broadcasting and sharing stories, music, whatever.

I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that we are at a similar point to open online learning that we experienced with the growth of the LMS in the late 90′s. While some have argued that MOOCs are limited in their appeal – mainly for professional development and highly prepared individuals – I believe MOOCs will continue to be easier to develop and deliver as the growing number of institutions develop pedagogies (network learning, connectivism, participatory pedagogy) and new technologies to run the events. In late 1990′s, when I first logged into WebCT, it’s appeal was limited to people with reasonable technical skills. Today, after a decade of technology improvements, investment, and systemic change, LMS’ are fairly easy to use. I don’t see why the MOOC trajectory will be any different – with the exception, obviously, of questioning the current system of education and how the internet influences teaching and learning.


  1. Eduardo wrote:

    Its development is very likely, but I think a MOOC is is a pedagogical model, it is somewhat different from an LMS. I can´t see the parallel development of both. I think that the development of MOOC has more to do with the institucional structures of education and its evolution and change.
    Sorry for my english.

    Thanks for your post. Eduardo

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 5:23 am | Permalink
  2. Shawn Mehan wrote:

    Very interesting, George. An inflection point may, indeed, have been reached. It is interesting that the universities are increasing participation in this new model. It could be belief or desperation, but either motivation still wins momentum to the drive for change.

    Some more thoughts here: MOOCs still growing – Natural evolution of Open Courseware. New delivery model.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  3. Diego Leal wrote:

    Hi George,

    A couple of thoughts:

    Since 2009 I’ve led several OOCs in Colombian universities (without the M, but with interesting things happening even in small groups and with few open participants from all over Latin America, as documented in OpenEd10) and I’ve noticed that, at large, institutions do not really understand what’s happening here. It’s not even on their radar. So I wonder whether the typical case involves some faculty or even R&D departments experimenting with OOCs, without other areas of the institution being aware of the experiment and its possible implications.

    I think this is important because I already heard from people in a top Colombian university, when explained what OOCs were and some of their possible implications, the “um, that sounds interesting but I don’t think we can do that here” answer. My feeling is that, if institutions were clear about what this practice means, we wouldn’t be seeing so many experiments happening. I guess it’s a good thing they’re unaware.

    This brings me to the second thing: LMS were always huge pieces of software, requiring installation and, most often than not, tech support to get it started. You needed a huge investment (time & money) to be able to ‘log-in’. So institutional support was critical for LMS expansion. At least in Colombia (and many other places in Latin American) it was, in fact, an institutional experiment.

    Now, it seems to me most of the OOCs I’ve seen so far aim to what you could call a ‘personal cyberinfrastructure’ (as Gardner Campbell would put it). Distributed, unstructured, and also ‘loosely tied’ to their ‘home’ institutions. This makes them more of a ‘Lone Ranger’ experiment, and given that most tools are public (in fact I’ve aggregated and distributed something like The Daily using public, non-self-hosted tools, as shown here) there’s really no need to involve institutional infrastructure.

    This is good, of course, but also means that universities don’t need to be involved, which also means that OOCs trajectory is likely to be different of that of the LMS, because OOCs don’t *require* to be institutional experiments (at least in a Latin American context). My point? I think the evolution of OOCs will keep going on outside universities.

    The other side of this is that, because LMS turned into expensive institutional experiments, there was some pressure over faculty to use it. If OOCs don’t involve institutional resources, the *need* for adoption remains low. We end up depending on demonstration effects, which may prevent us from getting to a tipping point.

    Will we have easier software? Absolutely. Will more people be doing OOCs? Most likely. Will be most faculty (as it *seems* to be now with LMS)? I doubt it. Will universities (as we know them now) be that involved? I’m not that sure. Are they acting out of belief or desperation? I don’t think they’re acting at all. This is happening because of people, and despite institutions. Which is not new, anyway. :-)

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  4. Jennifer wrote:

    MOOC is a new concept to me and after reading your post, I can see that well prepared and disciplined students can be very receptive to this style of learning. Thank goodness for educational learning changes!

    Saturday, July 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink
  5. Casey wrote:

    Technology is moving at a frenetic pace. The new concept of MOOC is interesting, however the students in this enviornment must be well disciplined. How will this affect the traditional learner.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  6. Rosa A. Ojeda Ayala wrote:

    Although a little late, I would like to state that I agree with Eduardo and Diego. MOOCs and OOCs are more of strategic approaches or pedagogical models than what LMS are. We will have to keep an eye on the ways MOOCs develop their own pedagogies and define their relations to formal learning institutions.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink