Why MOOCs Work

Geoff Cain, Brainstorm in Progress, Jul 12, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Why do MOOCs (the real MOOCs, not the x-MOOCs) work? Geoff Cain has four reasons:

  • Student motivation - "This is not a problem with MOOCs. Students can be taught motivation. As Siemens puts it, we need to foster autonomous, self-regulated learners."
  • Facilitated connections - "What would happen if the learning materials were in different multiple formats; open, accessible and maybe sometimes asynchronous and the students got to choose which version of the material they used and how they engaged with it?"
  • Self-organization - "discussions took place in a wide variety of fora and then a self- or group appointed "leader" would bring our questions back to the course facilitators for clarification."
  • Content curation - "You would be really surprised at how open people are in your discipline to being a guest in your course via webinar or Skype."

This is a good list. These are genuine problems facing online learning in general, and the MOOC (if I do say so myself) represents a novel way of addressing each of them.

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