Rodriguez, O. (2012) Vast Lurker and No-lurker Participation in Open Online Courses: MOCCs and the AI Stanford-like courses respectively Osvaldo Rodriguez, March 3
Siemens, G. (2012) MOOCs for the Win! ELearnspace, March 5
Lewin, T. (2012) Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls, New York Times, March 4
Following my two earlier posts on MOOCs (Some critical reflections on MOOCs and More reflections on MOOCs and MITx) and a response from Stephen Downes and Sui Fai John Mack, I am adding three more posts that deliberately or accidently continue the discussion.
First let’s start with George Siemens, one of the original designers of a particular kind of MOOC based on a connectivist approach. His post sets out some of the history behind the development of MOOCs and responds to a post from Clark Quinn and also to my two posts.
In conclusion to his post, George Siemens write:
It is important to realize that MOOCs are not (yet) an answer to any particular problem. They are an open and ongoing experiment. They are an attempt to play with models of teaching and learning that are in synch with the spirit of the internet. As with any research project, it is unlikely that they will be adopted wholesale in traditional universities. Most likely, bits and pieces will be adopted into different teaching models. Some systems will offer open online courses as a means of drawing attention to their university. Others will offer MOOCs because it’s an effective way of getting out an important message or to raise awareness about certain topics.
Any or all of those adoptions of MOOCs are not really a concern for me. I’m more interested in experimentation and exploring new modes of interaction online. I’m not concerned about whether or not existing university systems adopt MOOCs for undergraduate education or whether they serve to improve continuing education. That kind of discourse appropriates MOOC concepts to support the narrative of the existing education system. Which is fine.
But that is only one way to look at MOOCs.
Osvlado is an Argentinian blogger and he has a very interesting post that compares participation rates between different kinds of MOOCs. He makes the distinction between MOOCs such as the Stanford AI MOOC based on a cognitivist-behaviourist methodology and ‘connectivist’ MOOCs, such as #Change 11 and EduMOOC.
He ran a statistical analysis comparing EduMOOC with the Stanford AI MOOC that showed that after a few weeks, active participation in EduMOOC had dropped from 2,700 to just over 100. The Stanford AI MOOC started at around 160,000 active participants then dropped rapidly to a pretty steady 25,000 active participants a week. He argues that although less than 10% of the original ‘starters’ in the EduMOOC actively participated, there were a lot of ‘lurkers’ reading but not otherwise participating, whereas with the Stanford AI MOOC, students could not lurk; if they did not take the obligatory exams they were ‘non-completers’.
- the AI-Stanford participants have totally different learners goals and preparation than those in MOOCs.
- there exists a very different nature of the subjects studied: engineering and educational theory.
- the AI-Stanford course falls into the cognitive-behaviorist pedagogy category and the MOOCs into the connectivist.
- First what counts as success? It seems to me that 25,000 students successfully completing a course on AI is pretty good. However, losing over 95% of participants in the EduMOOC and ending up with barely 100 active participants does not seem very successful.
- Does this mean that cognitive-behaviourist design is more successful than a connectivist design? I don’t think so. Other factors have to be taken into consideration.
- Is connectivism on its own sufficient to achieve success on an online course, or could other strategies, such as better software for organizing content and better learning design, increase participation rates, maintain active presence during the MOOC, and above all lead to deeper learning?