OLDaily, by Stephen Downes

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November 20, 2013

MOOCs Are Reaching Only Privileged Learners, Survey Finds
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog, November 20, 2013

OK, you see the headline above. But read the story and see this: "The paper is based on a survey of 34,779 students worldwide who took 24 courses offered by Penn professors on the Coursera platform." Goodness gracious, the word "MOOCs" does not mean the same thing as "courses offered by Penn professors on the Coursera platform." The Chronicle can be so infuriating at times. Coursera very deliberately targeted an upmarket customer profile, so no wonder that's who they got (this is not an exception, Ng notwithstanding). I would like to think that som other open online learning initiatives are reaching a much wider demographic. Certainly that's what I aspire toward.

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Understanding the Building Blocks of Online Learning
Jane Brindley, Ross Paul, Contact North, November 20, 2013

Contact North has produced an 8-part services providing an overview of the contribuition of Tony Bates to online and distance education. It provides a very accessible and clear outline of his work over the last few decades. The series parts are as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning for effective teaching with technology
  3. How emerging pedagogies map onto the new technologies
  4. How faculty can support learner success
  5. How faculty can assure quality in an online learning environment
  6. Guidelines for faculty from educational technology research
  7. Costing considerations for hybrid and online courses
  8. Institutional and faculty roles in strategic planning

"His constant message is that most institutions are under-exploiting the potential of technology to respond to the growing pressures for change in post-secondary education. For meaningful improvements, major changes are needed in the prevailing institutional cultures and the way they are managed."


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The King of MOOCs Abdicates the Throne
Rebecca Schuman, Slate, November 20, 2013


I think that what amuses me most about the reaction to the Thrun story is the glowing descriptions of him have only intensified. "The King of MOOCs." "The Genius Godfather of MOOCs." Really now. As I and the many other people working toward the same end have pointed out repeatedly, the signal change in MOOCs is openess, not whatever it was (hubris? VC money?) that Thrun brought to the table. Rebecca Schuman claims this is a victory for "the tiny, for-credit, in-person seminar." It's not that, no more than the Titanic disaster was a victory for wind-powered passenger transportation.

Related: Kris Olds, Mapping Coursera's Global Footprint; Walter Russell Mead, Is the MOOC Hype Dying? Online Educa Berlin, This house believes that MOOCs are doomed; Jonathan Rees, I know a dead parrot when I'm looking at one; Terry Anderson, All MOOCs don’t work for all students. Are you surprised?

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Copyright 2010 Stephen Downes Contact: stephen@downes.ca

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