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February 15, 2013

We don’t need no educator : The role of the teacher in today’s online education
Stephen Downes, February 15, 2013, Utdanningskonferansen 2013, Bergen, Norway

This presentation, delivered in Bergen, Norway, describes the changing nature of online learning with the introduction of massive open online courses, and in that context describes and explains the changing roles of the educator.

[Link] [Slides] [Audio]

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A Few Thoughts on MOOC Credit (and “Life” credit)
Steven D. Krause, stevendkrause.com, February 15, 2013

I got into this discussion about badges with Billy Meinke today (see the link to the video below) and one of the comments I made is that, with the sort of MOOCs I'm thinking about, your contributions are your badges. But it raises the whole question of credentialing and assessment in general. Steve Krause considers the question and ponders the business model - after all, he says, if you take all the mechanisms for 'granting credit' combined, that's still only about 500,000 students - "that isn’t exactly the Thomas Friedman-esque transformation of higher education as we know it, is it?" And while granting credit seems to be the monetization path for a lot of people (because the presumption is always that it just must be monetized) I wonder what happens to credit based on contributions in such a scenario. Do we just forget them?

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Video, Assessment]

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The MOOCs that ate themselves
Martin Weller, The Ed Techie, February 15, 2013

Martin Weller outlines "quite a depressing scenario" that may unfold as MOOCs follow invaiably the part set out by Coursera and the rest of them (I don't think that will happen - but that's a separate story):

  • They become unsustainable - a good MOOC is so expensive to put on that it simply isn't worth doing. You're providing it for free after all.
  • Only elite institutions offer them - given the expense, only those institutions who have the money, or the skills to produce broadcast quality content will provide them.
  • They are conservative - as Georgia Tech found, it's better not to try anything risky or innovative, because the cost of failure is too great.
  • MOOC failure will be costly - if you fail publicly and damage your own, and your institution's reputation, don't expect them to give you promotion. So why risk it?

I agree this would be depressing - but I think what's happening is that after this first burst of MOOCs using these (quickly built) platforms, we are seeing an unveiling of many more MOOCs on any number of different platforms. Which means they won't be controlled by the big elite institutions (as if they ever could be) and that there will be tens of thousands of them in short order. Yes, then the bubble will burst, but the fact of open online education will have been established. [Image by David Kernohan]

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Quality, Online Learning]

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Course Sprint Creative Commons
Stephen Downes, Billy Meinke, YouTube, February 15, 2013

Informal online chat I had with Billy Meinke, from Creative Commons, on the course he's developing on open scientific data (I mentioned the course in a post a few days ago, here). We talked about some of the mechanics of setting up an open course, how an open course would use open data, the role of badges in a course, and issues related to managing an open online course. I think people interested in starting their own MOOCs will find this discussion useful.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Traditional and Online Courses, Chatrooms]

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Abandoning MySQL - Switching to #MariaDB for Moodle
Mig, Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org, February 15, 2013

I'm not on the verge of switching from MySQL but I watch developments like this closely. Here's the gist: "It seems that the venerable MySQL, which probably handles more data on the world wide web than any other database, is currently going the way of OpenOffice.org (which was recently removed from most Linux distributions and substituted with LibreOffice) and being replaced by a fork called MariaDB. As was the case with OO.o, the reason is largely the same - the mistrust many open-source developers harness towards Oracle which now controls the development of MySQL."

[Link] [Comment][Tags: none]

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A Language Learning MOOC – Thoughts & Vision
Glen Cochrane, A Point of Contact, February 15, 2013

A 'Language MOOC' (or LMOOC) is a MOOC created for the purpose of helping participants learn a language. As can be imagined, the conversational format of an LMOOC lends itself well to this purpose. English Eco is an example of an LMOOC. What's interesting is that it is open to facilitators as well as to students - anyone can create a topic of discussion, set it up, and carrty it out over a two-week priod. My main comment would be that it is not clear when this MOOC starts, whether it has already started, whether there is a topic currently underway, how I access that topic, and how I take part. There needs to be, in other words, a clear 'on ramp' for participants.

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MOOCs instead of open education
Bryan Alexander, February 15, 2013

The open access declarations, notes Bryan Alexander, are now more than ten years old. So why the interest in MOOCs now, when in fact open access had been around for more than a decade? It's not simply that it's The New. It's partially because it is supported by the elite institutions (though read the comments about why EdX hasn't received the publicity of Coursera and Udacity), partially because it fits the narrative that "education is broken and we need the Silicon Valley to fix it" and partially because, from an institutional point of view, open educational resources are expensive while taking part in a MOOC is (nearly) free.

[Link] [Comment][Tags: Silicon Valley, Wikipedia, Open Access]

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.