Thursday, 20 October 2016

#ic_moveme Jeremy Knox on new MOOC paradigms beyond MOOCs

Jeremy Knox gave a philosophically interesting talk about the effects of MOOCs on education. For a in-depth information, have a look at his recently published wonderful book. What follows are liveblogging notes. 

How has the movement of cMOOC/xMOOCs impacted informal learning. This talk is on the emergence of MOOCs and their dominant forms, as well as suggest some new paradigms for MOOC learning (not new theories, but important movements and things that are happening and influence how we understand learning in the MOOC domain).

Looking back to the 2012 and 2013 where the media got interested in the rise of the MOOC. Promising a revolution of education, the future of Higher Education, which were provocative and aimed at bringing moocs into the main stream. One of the premises was “the online revolution, learning without limits” a quote from Daphne Koller at Stanford. Many advantages came from raising digital education into the mainstream of education. But at the same time the rise of the MOOC is a fact, MOOCs are here to stay.

In the eLearning and digital cultures MOOC came up with embedding resources that were open and public. That evoked the idea of hybridMOOC (Bonnie Stewart). cMOOCs focused more on open and public web, self-directed study, process oriented. While xMOOC were more open in terms of free enrolment, free lectures, content oriented. The quality of the openness we saw in cMOOCs was about practicing learning and teaching in the open public realm. While xMOOC are open in terms of ‘free’ not really open in the open education idea.

The Open Educational Resources movement comes from several regional initiatives, and influences the cMOOCs.   
The very idea of connectivism was on the idea of a network. A special visualisation of a cMOOC points to the learning that happens in a cMOOC, distributed knowledge and content. When looking at the different xMOOCs, we see for profit, to non-profit. This means that these MOOCs have a profit idea behind them as well. In contrast to the network model of connectivist MOOCs.  
The xMOOCs have lots of fantastic moocs, but the reinstate the lecture. And the global North dominates the content and production, which is a different interpretation of what is open education. Martin Weller conveys the idea well in his The battle for open: how openness won and why it does not feel like a victory (Weller, 2014). Bonnie Stewart compared xMOOC to a trojan horse for open education.

But there is more than the battle for open, that is a move from massive to spocs, specialisation (spocs) and learning analytics. There is a huge number of learners enrolled in MOOCs, so that is a good thing, learning is happening and it is more than we got in traditional education. The argument is that after the initial emergence of MOOCs, there was a move against the massive, and more towards community open online courses, so moving away of the massive. Harvard sees an interest in spocs, business idea. But this means that moocs return to the classic online or elearning courses. Coursera moves towards team moocs, or auto-cohorts: a new coursera does a kind of bus, once it is full of people it starts. So two options of managing class sizes. This means it goes back to what was.
Specialisations of MOOCs: group mooc courses together, this sequencing enables certification. This specialisation initiative focuses on disciplines, this has an effect on humanities course, declining rapidly from 20% to 10% shifting distribution of these courses. Specialisations seem to focus on stem, business, data science and computer science. This means that the focus is shifting with specialisation. Similar to the turn that Udacity took to predominantly focus on these types of courses, not the humanities or other less tech-oriented courses. The need to profit will change the priorities and resources they put into moocs.

MOOCs are also shaped by data or learning analytics. Content, interaction & communication, assessment… but what about the actual learning.  And the quantifying participant behaviours, into categorise students into groups that are not necessary meaningful for learning. Data colonialism emerges, that what we are seeing with MOOCs is not a traditional colonialism, it is a drive to capture more data to make more judgements, new sensibilities are needed to make learning analytics less colonial.

Question: what is the chance that we can reverse this new colonialist drive now using learning analytics to roll out this new type of education? Jeremy stays optimistic on the opportunities we can create, but this means we need to look at algorithms supporting learning analytics, look at the categories that are used and the effect it has. (inge remark: can we and do we equip global tech with the algorithms that can in fact try and reach education for all and equality for all? Even if we use the technologies as used in cmoocs e.g. twitter, FB… which are also part of the technological symbolic capital from the Northern regions). Jeremy mentions how the data analytics from global MOOC’rs were used to improve for on location students within Harvard and Stanford, so what is the actual benefit for a global group of learners? MOOCs are used as motivational device to attract on location students, preserve the authenticity of the institutes that provide MOOCs, which does not belittle the work teachers do or the work that learners do, but does speak against the global educational benefit that MOOCs said to achieve.