Dang, it’s been a crazy beginning of the semester around here lately. No posts in all of September (what??) and I’ve been trying to write this post for literally a couple of weeks!
Besides all of the usual school things, there’s the upcoming WIDE-EMU 13 (more on that soon, though come on down on October 12 if you can). I’m also still working on editing a late but soon to be great edited collection of essays about MOOCs– some great contributions from people who have thought about MOOCs, taught MOOCs, and taken MOOCs. Stay tuned. We’re getting close to done.
Along with Judy Arzt, Liz Losh, Alex Reid, Jane Lasarenko, and Drew Lowe, I’m on the program for the CCCCs in Indianapolis on a roundtable called “MOOCing Back to School: A Roundtable of Professors as Students in Massive Online Open Courses” and I’m also participating in Wednesday workshop where I’m talking about MOOCs.
But wait– that’s not all the MOOC-iness. I’m also planning/hoping on putting together a proposal for a sabbatical or a research release for next year about– you know it– MOOCs, specifically something that would contextualize the quick rise and constantly moving future of MOOCs with the first generation of online classes and previous teaching technologies like television, radio, the postal system, etc. Again, stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s a whole bunch of MOOC links that are potentially interesting to me for some of these current and upcoming projects (and others might find some of them interesting too).
So in no particular order (and some of this is kind of old, too), some of the things I’m thinking of/linking to with MOOCs right now (besides the stuff I’m thinking of/doing that I already mentioned):
- After WIDE-EMU and a couple other things, I’m thinking about signing up for another MOOC class, probably this time something through Udacity and probably something where my skill sets right now are pretty limited like Algebra or Physics or Statistics. I might try some of these courses tied to San Jose State University, too. As far as I can tell, these are more of a “self-paced” approach, which a) has proven to be problematic for more traditional online classes, and b) is even more like a textbook.
- I just found out the other day that there’s a class at the University of Alabama that’s assigning some posts from my blog. It looks like it’s a graduate class in the Education about MOOCs taught by Claire Major. Hi folks! There are a lot of other good links at that site too.
- “I.A. Richards’ Failed MOOC” by Mark Cooper and John Marx is a great and long article at a web site those two collaborate on, Humanities after Hollywood. Smart stuff; basically, this is a history piece about a class that the literary critic I.A. Richards had on public TV in Boston in the 1960s. I wish they had the video though; there are some stills and they describe the video, but it sounds like the actual footage is in the WGBH archives.
- “REPLY to The MOOC Racket: Widespread online-only higher ed will be disastrous for students—and most professors” by Rory McGreal. This really connects with the post I had back in July about Jonathan Ree’s Salon article.
- From Terry Anderson comes “Is Online Learning Cheaper?” which is a link to this Canadian report “How Online Learning Affects Productivity, Cost and Quality in Higher Education: An Environmental Scan and Review of the Literature.” (PDF) Here’s a quote from the summary that I found useful in that it confirms what I think most people who teach/know about teaching online already know: “The evidence reviewed suggests that, for a range of students and learning outcomes, fully online instruction produces learning that is on par with face-to-face instruction. The students most likely to benefit are those who are academically well prepared and highly motivated to learn independently. Students who are not well prepared to learn at the postsecondary level or do not devote the necessary time to learning are less likely to benefit from online learning and may in fact do better in a face-to-face setting.”
- “2 Texas Colleges Will Offer Competency-Based Hybrid Degree” from CHE. Not exactly about MOOCs, though it fits in because that’s one of the things that people wonder about with the whole “what are these MOOC things for?”
- By the way, where are we at with MOOC news nowadays, anyway? This says we’re “moving fast” and this says the bandwagon is slowing down. Both articles are kind of silly speculations by people who don’t know anything, but still.
- Then there’s this from CHE, “MOOCs Could Help 2-Year Colleges and Their Students, Says Bill Gates.” First off, as I’ve said before, Gates only qualification for speaking on this at all is he has A LOT of money. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Community colleges have generally cast a wary eye toward massive open online courses, or MOOCs. But a relatively new model, which “flips” homework and classwork by incorporating outsourced lectures, could help struggling students and make colleges more efficient, Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told a packed gathering of community-college leaders here on Wednesday.
Mr. Gates urged them to provide resources to instructors who wanted to experiment with flipped classrooms and other techniques for integrating technology into their teaching.
“I’d be the first to say this is a period of experimentation, but we’ll learn much faster if people jump in and engage,” he told attendees at the Association of Community College Trustees’ leadership meeting, which drew nearly 2,000 trustees, presidents, and administrators here this week.
As I’ve said many many times before, what I think Gates is describing is a textbook– one that is more sophisticated and with more features than a print book to be sure, but still a way of providing expert-written/developed content and materials for teachers who don’t have the expertise, experience, time and/or permission (because of program standardization or what-have-you) to put it together themselves. In that sense, I don’t think MOOCs are much of a threat to college teachers/faculty; of course, I also don’t think they’re much in the way of a solution to the problem of college expenses, either.
There’s probably more I could include here but jeez, it took me this long to get this posted so I better just hit publish and plan on coming back to this later.