Carol Edwards from BCIT recently shared a document detailing her experience participating in massive open online courses. She concludes: “Based on the Report Card generated above, MOOC’s are a failure, both as an educational product and as a business model.”
I appreciate any critique of MOOCs. The value of critiques often rests in helping to make transparent the assumptions that we’re making regarding a topic. Edwards has put significant effort in describing her experience in MOOCs and what she sees as short comings.
I don’t believe her conclusions apply, however, to connectivist MOOCs. First, she focuses on MOOCs that fit into the Coursera/Udacity model – largely knowledge duplication MOOCs. With open online courses that I’ve helped facilitate, we’ve emphasized knowledge generation. Her critique targets the former model.
Second, the metrics by which we evaluate MOOCs are different from those that we use to evaluate traditional learning. The economics are different. I read recently that MIT had more students complete their circuits course than would in 40 years on campus. It makes no sense to look at that and conclude MOOCs don’t work because of high drop out rates.
Finally, MOOCs are essentially the web happening to education. To evaluate them by the value points of a hierarchical controlled system will yield limited insight. The criticisms often directed at our MOOCs (decentralized, hard to figure everything out, user-generated, etc.) are more of an indictment of what the existing system values (structure, routine, scalability, homogeneity, etc) than what is actually wrong with our courses.