by Stephen Downes
Jun 25, 2015
Audrey Watters completes a MOOC on superheroes in popular culture and reflects on it. "My fear: the treatment of Wonder Woman in “The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture” is symbolic of how all topics will be treated by popular MOOCs. We’ll get tittering, but no theory." I'm less concerned about the lack of theory (criticism as a discipline is overly fond of Theory) but share Watters's concerns about lack of depth. Additionally, the difficulty of managing a centralized discussion forum for a MOOC is something we encountered and addressed in our MOOCs (addressed by encouraging people to set up their own fora in their own locations around the web; our favourite troll could dominate the one central discussion, but was utterly defeated by the distributed discussion - a lesson the centralized MOOCs still haven't learned).
MOOCs as a Method of Distance Education in the Arab World – A Review Paper
Raniah Samir Adham, Karsten Oster Lundqvist,
European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning,
The background on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will be familiar to most readers. The article, however, is a good overview of MOOC technology being developed in the Arab world and contains descirptions of Edraak (Jordan), Rwaq (Saudi Arabia), MenaVersity (Lebanon) and SkillAcademy (Egypt) (I've provided the links to the services because they are not in the article). There are also some institution-specific MOOCS such as the An-Najah National University MOOC and the American University of Beirut MOOC. The most interetsing part of the article describes why the Arab World needs MOOCs, with reasons varying from language, inspiration and gender separation. Related: "I am Different from Other Women in the World" The Experiences of Saudi Arabian Women Studying Online in International Master Programmes.
Two Things to do in Learning
This is an interesting way to view two separate approaches to learning. The first begins with "responding to challenges" that would be faced by a student or learner; the other is to "present challenges". In the first, the provider furnishes resources, services and other "useful stuff", while in the second it creates experiences and "impactful challenges". "This is," says nick shackleton-jones, "really a simplified version of the diagram set out in 'The Tragedy of L&D'. It is presented here as two options because this is how it often comes up in conversation." Interestingly, neither aligns with the concept of 'courses' as we currently define them. "'Courses' - in the sense of 'content-dumping' (either online or as part of an event) do not feature in either activity... At the very foundation lies the false assumption is that learning professionals are tasked with stuffing information into people's heads. And that is not how learning works."
Expectations for the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment
Next Generation Learning Challenges,
ELI's Malcolm Brown responds to comments from Tony Bates and Jon Dron about the recent article on the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE). Mostly, he defends the standards-based approach and Lego metaphor. "We’re thinking about the technical and other standards needed to enable the NGDLE components to snap together. We are imagining a time when instead of adopting a platform, you have the opportunity to assemble your platform/environment, at least in part, by using components." I think it's important to understand the difference between standards (which are formally defined) and protocols (which are created through use and acceptance). The latter are inevitable; the former are unnecessary.
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