Five myths about Moocs

Diana Laurillard, Distance and E-Learning (EURODL), Feb 14, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This came out about a month ago but according to my logs I haven't mentioned here yet, so here goes. First, let me quote Laurillard's five myths:

  • the idea that 'content is free' in education
  • that students can support each other
  • that Moocs solve the problem of expensive undergraduate education
  • that MOOCs address educational scarcity in emerging economies
  • that Education is a mass customer industry

The essence of her criticism is that "a course format that copes with large numbers by relying on peer support and assessment is not an undergraduate education... it requires personalised guidance, which is simply not scalable in the same way."

I think we both agree that MOOCs - even cMOOCs - are not an undergraduate education. The question, though, is broader. Is an undergraduate education what we need in order to meet the social and economic challenges of the day? If we started our students off differently, could they succeed in a technology-rich environment wihtout the need for so much personal attention and hand-holding? A lot rides on the answer to this question. And the MOOC - even the xMOOC - is an attempt to look at some possible answers.

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