Daniel, J. (2012) Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility Seoul: Korean National Open University
This is the most thorough, comprehensive and balanced overview and analysis of MOOCs that I have read. This is not surprising since Sir John Daniel has had a long and distinguished career in open and distance learning, including being President of the Commonwealth of Learning and Vice-Chancellor of the UK Open University. He is currently a visiting research fellow at the Korean National Open University and an Education Master at DeTao Masters Academy, China. He thus knows of what he speaks.
The paper is worth reading in full (by clicking on the title above to download). However, the paper covers the following topics:
- what are MOOCs? The five year development of MOOCs to the present time
- diverging pedagogical models in both xMOOCs and cMOOCs
- completion rates
- business models
- new partnerships
- MOOC platforms
- myths and paradoxes of MOOCs
- future possibilities
The paper contains a number of real ‘zingers’. Some of my favourites:
- The real revolution is that universities with scarcity at the heart of their business models are embracing openness
- The competition inherent in the gadarene rush to offer MOOCs will create a sea change by obliging participating institutions to revisit their missions and focus on teaching quality and students as never before.
- It could also create a welcome deflationary trend in the costs of higher education.
- We would not expect the current extensive commentary on xMOOCs in the US to consider events before the dotcom frenzy of 1999-2000, still less earlier developments outside North America such as the many open universities around the world. It is surprising, however, that little reference is made to the unhappy experience of some elite US schools with online learning in the mid-2000s.
- A first myth is that university brand is a surrogate for teaching quality. It isn’t. The so-called elite universities that are rushing into xMOOCs gained their reputations in research. Nothing suggests that they are particularly talented in teaching, especially teaching online.
- Because xMOOCs universities measure their institutional standing by the numbers who fail to gain admission to their campuses, they will be cavalier about high wastage and failure rates. This has been called the Passchendaele approach, after the World War I battle in which tens of thousands of soldiers were thrown at the front and died fighting for a few metres of land.
- What decides whether or not a student can obtain a degree is determined not by their mastery of the courses, but by the admissions process to the university. This is an untenable nonsense.
- Placing their xMOOCs in the public domain for a worldwide audience will oblige institutions to do more than pay lip service to importance of teaching and put it at the core their missions. This is the real revolution of MOOCs.
I have nothing to add. The paper stands by itself. I will be interested though (as will the author) in your responses to the paper.