I confess…I am a MOOC dropout. In fact, on more than one occasion.
Now, you might be asking: MOOC? What’s a MOOC.
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. They typically have open registration and will have several thousand registrations at the outset. However, the dropout rate is very, very high…like above 90% of the registrants don’t complete the course. But, for the 10% that do, it is a great access to education.
MOOCs have been around for about 4 years and have evolved into several types:
- Connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) relies on the connectivist education theory which emphasizes the personal learning network for each participant and a collaborative structure to creating the learning experience.
- Content MOOC (xMOOC) is a bit more “traditional” in its approach and are the types of MOOCs garnering a lot of the press right now. Examples of these include Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence course or any of the MIT Open Course Ware options from back over 10 years ago.
- A third type could be called the Task MOOC (tMOOC?) and it involves a set of tasks that the participant completes from prompts within the course. The students also then comment on and/or critique the other’s tasks. An example of this type of MOOC is the Digital Storytelling course from the University of Mary Washington known as ds106.
The overwhelming type of MOOC is the xMOOC approach and you can find courses from many consortia of universities in places like:
- Coursera: Courses from schools like Stanford, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech and more….Where I dropped out of the Human-Computer Interaction Course
- EdX: Courses from MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and Georgetown
- Udacity: Offers courses for high school students and beyond
The challenges, in my mind, for MOOCs include:
- increasing the completion rate, which will also increase the scalability of the course delivery both infrastructure as well as human resources needed
- finding a revenue streaming to keep the model viable in today’s increasingly difficulty higher education budget world
- determining how to keep academic integrity to allow for some form of credential to be awarded for successful completion, whether it is a badget, a certificate, college credit or some other – yet to be invented – type of recognition. The introduction of Signature Track within Coursera is a move in that direction as it will use photo ID and biometrics to identify a student taking the course before a certificate can be offered.
For a very thorough review of the rise of MOOCs, check out Sir John Daniel’s paper: Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility