Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ 5 Things Researchers Have Discovered About MOOCs

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

I think we've learned a lot about MOOCs. And as one of the academics gathered during the Texas snowstorm, I think I can say confidently that these five things are not among them. The five:

  • If you are isolated, poor, and enamored of the prestigious university offering the MOOC you're taking, you are less likely to complete it.
  • Coaching students to have a healthier mindset about learning may not help in a MOOC.
  • Paired with the right incentives, MOOCs can help prepare at-risk students for college-level work.
  • Discussion forums in MOOCs are healthy places for the few students who use them.
  • We still do not know if doing well in MOOCs will help underprivileged learners become upwardly mobile.

Where does the Chronicle say this nonsense comes from? From an organization that should know better. It's not simply that these statements are false (though no doubt some of them are). It's that they're misplaced and emphasized the wrong things. Note that not one of them has anything to do with whether people learn, form communities, or make their lives better.



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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Apr 20, 2024 6:21 p.m.

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