Mulling Our MOOC: Crowd-sourcing A Controversy

A writer for a prominent technology-and-culture magazine recently contacted me about a piece he’s writing on the politics of MOOCs in American higher education. He’s asking some quite provocative questions about the language of “innovation,” “revolution,” and “disruption” surrounding the emergence and spread of MOOCs over the last two years, particularly as it touches on the peculiar controversy around on-line education during the leadership crisis at the University of Virginia in 2012.

During our back and forth I made the point to him that most critical coverage of MOOCs has largely ignored the experiences of the many thousands of students actually taking these on-line classes. It might be interesting, I suggested, to ask the students themselves how they view what they’re doing in relation to the controversies attending the proliferation of these courses. Are these controversies all “inside baseball,” or have they influenced the public perception of what universities are up to in their often flailing attempts to get on line in new ways? We came up with three sets of questions to pose to the students in “Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction.” I’m hoping students will post their responses in the “MOOCS and Online Learning” discussion forum on our Coursera site (the link will work only if you’re enrolled in the class), though anyone who wishes is also welcome to post responses in the Comments section below this post. Do with these questions what you will, and thanks for your interest!

  • To what extent are your feelings about and experiences of MOOCs influenced by the conversations around them in journalism, higher education, etc.? Do you see MOOCs as “disruptive” or “revolutionary” to universities, whether in the United States or your own country/region?
  • Do you see MOOCs as an example of “digital innovation”? In your experience, are MOOCs described (and marketed) as such an innovative technological solution that “online education” refers mostly/only to MOOCs?
  • Do you believe that the time, energy, and expense universities are investing in MOOCs are justified by the supposedly experimental nature of the medium? (“It’s an experiment. We’ll see what happens.”)

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81 comments on “Mulling Our MOOC: Crowd-sourcing A Controversy

  1. Alicia on said:

    I think MOOCs are definitely revolutionary. It does what has never been done before, bringing education freely to the masses. I for one am not in a financial place to attend university at this very moment but I like knowing I can learn and grow as a person while working my day to day job.

    Online a great deal of emphasis is put on “time wasters” – aka Farm Something or Other or whatever the popular game of the week is on Facebook. You tube surfing. It’s nice to see a community come together to learn and better themselves (not that you can’t better yourself on Facebook or Youtube so no offense meant there)!

    I think it is well worth the time the universities put in. My two favourite courses so far have been from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Virginia; two schools I would normally have never considered, but now are solidly on my radar.

    • vanessa on said:

      Alicia, I like your comment. I take classes too and work at an education institute. Students take online courses because they are either working two full time jobs, have a family and/or retired.

      • I agree. Online courses allow anyone, anywhere to increase their knowledge in an area that interests them. It allows those who have been previously excluded due to be included – leads to equity of service delivery by universities. Also allows people across the world to connect to a university/course in another country that they may never have the opportunity to attend otherwise.

        • I am puzzled what benefit University administrators see from offering MOOCs. The benefits to participants are clear…the joy of learning and connection to lecturers and authors are gifts.

          • Bruce Holsinger on said:

            And my feeling is, universities should embrace these connections and these sources of joy, rather than thinking strictly about the utilitarian/financial benefits (or not) of MOOCs. My two cents…

    • Clare Ring on said:

      I have found the sheer variety of MOOCs staggering and am currently studying a range from modern historical fiction to the fall and rise of Jerusalem. I would not be able to take these courses if I had to pay for them. Thank you to all those who helped to set them up. I haven’t seen any journalistic comments on them, but they are certainly making no difference to any conventional universities where I am concerned:at nearly 60, I’m well past the age of taking up any academic research degree much as I would like to do historical research.

      • Sarah Smith on said:

        I have to agree with Clare. I wouldn’t be taking this course if it were offered face-to-face at a university because I 1) don’t have the time to travel to a school clear across town and 2) I can’t afford the tuition and fees. I love that I can sit down and watch the lectures when I have time, and am certainly making time to do so!
        I teach online (accounting) courses at a community college in Houston, Texas. This is giving me ideas of how I could improve my course – it’s not nearly as rich as this class!

    • Anonymous on said:

      You said it perfectly, this enables me to broaden myself, learn, not be a ‘nothing new today’ person….. In my former career it was highly recommended you learn at least one something new each day!!! Thank you and begone the negativity! If we can teach or learn then don’t stop us!

    • I very much agree, Alicia! This is the tenth mooc I’ve taken on coursera since March–I signed up for the first because I am a librarian in a university and wanted to know how moocs might affect my work. One of the things that I find revolutionary about the classes I’ve taken is the interaction in the discussion fora. It transforms the course into a multidimensional form of communication and learning! Not only have I found nearly all the discussion threads in my classes to be positive and encouraging; they have expanded my ability to experience the class itself. I can pursue any discussion that interests me, any time of day, with people from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds–it’s far more than any other type of class can offer (which is not to downplay other forms of instruction at all, they have different goals). But I think that this type of interaction builds a new kind of learning community.

  2. Karen Lawson on said:

    I’m taking my first MOOC course at U Virginia. I’d say It’s brilliant and totally worth it.
    With college prices soaring out of reach, anybody who blocks these open access forms of education is in it for their own pocket or, (more paranoid view) to consolidate the dumbing-down of the population for political reasons.

  3. Ally Mead on said:

    MOOCs are revolutionary not just for universities, but the education process in general. Very, very few people in this age can afford to take a year, or more than one year, off work and pay enormously inflated fees to go to college, or augment their education with individual classes. It’s just not practical. Many more cannot afford the fees necessary to travel and/or relocate. So, as digital innovation, these classes serve to offer world-class education using the tools we have at hand — phones, iPads, laptops and desktop computers. Lectures seem more personal this way (ironically, perhaps, but there you have it), and no one student would ever be able to interact with every single other student in forums if he/she were taking classes in person. Social anxiety, breaking the ice, and timing would stand in the way, whereas forums, Twitter and Facebook groups now offer students a 24/7 mode of interaction. It IS an experiment and, for universities, probably a risky one, since it could be seen that they’re giving it all away for free. But just as other business entice new customers with freebies for signing up for an email list, for example, or offer a teaser video to see what a higher-priced weekend program might be like, these courses also act as highly developed business cards, which will no doubt attract new students to those schools in time. Personally, I hope this trend continues. The numbers already show that people all over the world are hungry for learning.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    I don’t agree with the assertion of “disruption” per se. Education at universities have become elitist, in that, many people either cannot afford the tuition or they cannot jump the hurdle to get in. If they manage those two things then often they are herded into large lecture rooms or stuck with instructors who either do not care or are not good at their jobs. So they get a sub-par education and it becomes more about paying for a piece of paper like I did in my program at University of San Francisco. Frankly it was a waste of money as the information became obsolete within two years and I did not leave with any employable skills. It took me 13 years to pay off that student loan.

    With MOOC you get a superior “education” from professors who put a lot of care and time into a series. There is no pressure to learn and one walks away with much insight or skill (such in programming etc). There is an immediate benefit. And it is universal! Anyone can join in and this alone creates a wonderful community. MOOC are not intended to substitue mainstream educational institutions, they are a supplement to life.

  5. Linda Inscoe on said:

    MOOCs are a digital innovation that has the potential to open access to higher education, or to continuing education, to a vast audience of people who would otherwise be excluded from it by full-time employment, geography, limited means and other life circumstances. Are the time, energy and resources that universities are investing in MOOCs justified? From a social perspective, I believe the answer is yes. MOOCs expand access to higher education. I also believe that MOOCs are good marketing for universities. They’re a value add to a university’s reputation. Finally, just as other once-free on line services are becoming monetized, MOOCs have the potential to make money for their providers. Already, some MOOCs are charging nominal fees for enrollment. With thousands, sometimes tens or hundreds of thousands, of people enrolled in a single MOOC, it would not require a large per person fee to recover the cost of offering a course on line.

  6. SR Fox on said:

    I do not consider MOOCs to be disruptive or revolutionary; in fact, they just seem to be a natural adoption of technology, in quite the same that, 20 years ago, the Internet was seen as a channel for commerce. When I was a freshman in college 40 years ago, all the lectures for my freshman biology classes were on videotape, which was a very new technology that at the time was too expensive for consumers. The tapes would play in a large lecture hall five or six times a day. A precursor to MOOC, perhaps, taking advantage of a new technology.

    The aspects that I do find to be innovative are the price and convenience. I used to take Community Scholar classes at UVa. The cost was about $700 a class. One had to drive to campus, pay for parking, and conform to schedules. Now I pay nothing, sit comfortably in my home while having a good cup of coffee, all the while getting the same level of intellectual entertainment. It’s awesome!

  7. Barbara Pahlow on said:

    1. To what extent are your feelings about and experiences of MOOCs influenced by the conversations around them in journalism, higher education, etc.? Do you see MOOCs as “disruptive” or “revolutionary” to universities, whether in the United States or your own country/region?

    I’d like to think I know about MOOCs first hand, this is my 4th course. I have not read much journalism coverage on the topic, but I do verbally promote the experience as positive to my family, friends and co-workers.
    I do think it could be “revolutionary” but not necessarily disruptive. as long as the traditional higher education courses that choose to use MOOCs do so as supplementary material only.

    2. Do you see MOOCs as an example of “digital innovation”? In your experience, are MOOCs described (and marketed) as such an innovative technological solution that “online education” refers mostly/only to MOOCs?

    At this time no, I do not think ‘online education’ necessarily refers only to MOOCs. My daughter is earning a degree exclusively online, but it’s a closed form of digital delivery, not an open one, such as Coursera offers, nor is it tuition and textbook free.

    3. Do you believe that the time, energy, and expense universities are investing in MOOCs are justified by the supposedly experimental nature of the medium? (“It’s an experiment. We’ll see what happens.”)

    Yes, at this time it is an experiment, but as a student/user/customer, I feel people like me will get out of the experience exactly what they put in. I intend to take full advantage, as long as possible.

  8. Anonymous on said:

    I am very much enjoying this course. Reading historical fiction is a passion of mine.
    I think on line learning is revolutionary and a way to reach out to individuals who are interested in learning without ever having to leave their home or for those who are geographically located a distance too far from their home to attend in person.
    Having attained several degrees within brick and mortar schools I cannot say enough about person-person contact with other students and the instructor.
    I also taught adult learners at the graduate level who much preferred an in person classroom. In attempts to meet both revolutionary ideas and the students preferences I mixed up the format of classes. The feedback was consistently preference for the in class learning.
    I also taught under graduate students who accepted the on-line learning better although what they learned from each other in “real” time was the greatest comment.

  9. Margaux on said:

    Free online university classes for the masses are indeed revolutionary. And their revolutionary side has a great pedigree: the free schooling that established in the nineteenth century by the left wingers, radical of all sorts, internationalists of the best kind!
    This idea of culture, knowledge and learning free and open to all whatever your looks, origins, or situation took root in a number of European countries who developed and kept great schools and made them free and mandatory (till 13 or 16, according to the country)…
    But here in the US we forgot these roots and the University system has become more and more complicated, more and more expansive, more and more elitist…
    Students don’t care as much about the scandals and the press as they care about discovering and learning without going bankrupt, and without quitting their dayjob…
    And yes, we know that this is an experiment… and that it will evolve, but as children of the WWW we know that things evolve all the time and we know that they might evolve for the best if WE keep at it and if great teachers keep at it…
    Sharing classes with the world makes me happy and proud of being a 21st century woman! And I am ready to do anything I can to keep that feeling close to my heart…

  10. MMadMaeline on said:

    This is my first MOOC course, and I am enjoying it tremendously. While it is “revolutionary,” I don’t think it is disruptive to the conventional university. I have a Master’s degree, and was looking to return to learning and critical thinking. This course has provided me an opportunity to do just that; however, the live give-and-take that is so instrumental to learning is missing. Discussing things on the forums is simply not the same as being in a physical classroom with other students. As a previous poster mentioned, the revolution is in the cost (free!) and convenience. How wonderful to have college level courses available to all.

  11. I can not access information until I get in cell range, I am only able to drive to my library once a week. I miss sitting in a class. You were my last hope at learning

  12. MOOC’s are revolutionary. They allow the opportunity for people, not just university students, to learn at a level that may not have been afforded to them by people who are experts in their area. MOOC’s also bring the sponsoring university and respective professor to a more “human” level in that again, they are teaching “real, working, wanting to learn, people”. Not saying that college students are not hard working, but when a person has 3 or 4 kids, a full-time job and mortgage payments deliberately enrolls in a MOOC, time management is a special challenge that full-time students without children, etc., have to face.

    I earned my Bachelor’s degree online, so online learning is not new to me. I have found, at least for my personal lifestyle, is indeed the way to learn! I was engaged and interested, communicate with other students and staff and made dinner for my kids. This was accomplished via technology to include, skype, messaging, discussion boards, video and recordings. Online learning brought me to the 21st Century. MOOC’s are a “relaxed” way to learn and engage in subject matters otherwise attained by attending a college or university. They are well worth the time, energy and financial support they provide.

    I believe that MOOC’s have a positive effect on a university. It can be seen as a viable, reachable and accessible part of a community. Community outreach is something that most colleges strive for. MOOCs are one way of achieving and reaching out to the public.

  13. Cesare on said:

    I think MOOCs are a continuation of usual learning by other means and that includes all the meanings that Clausewitz quote had.
    All new technological means are useful but they need to be put in a “frame” by professionals and, even if you can download from many places plenty of material and read it or study on your own, you will always need someone to assess your learning. Quizzes and writing essays to submit online are important but the major contribution comes from the community and the felling you are part of a project.
    So I do not see a real “digital” revolution and I do believe that, for the universities, the real challenge is not to prepare the course (most of the material are ready for the classes) but to go through students contributions within the community and found the added value for the future courses (either online or in classes). We already have podcasts and iTunes U providing tons of material you can drown in. The real problem is to be focused and to measure what you are looking for and learning….and MOOCs are perfect for that !

  14. Dawn Reno Langley on said:

    As a dean at a community college, I’ve been listening to my faculty who are a bit nervous about the advent of MOOCs and what it could possibly mean to their jobs. When I decided to take a MOOC, they thought I was “abandoning them.” Needless to say, they have all been following my progress and comments quite closely. I did not argue with them in the beginning, but now I can honestly say I would argue with anyone who thought this form of education was disruptive. Revolutionary, yes, but then again, haven’t we had online courses for a while? How many of them are as well done or far-reaching as these MOOCs? Couldn’t we accommodate people from all over the world? Yes, we could, but the person in Pakistan who wanted to take our courses would probably (1) never hear about the courses and (2) have to register as an out-of-state student, which might be too expensive or too onerous to do.

    I am personally enthralled with the course I am currently taking, and I don’t NEED to take anymore courses since I have finished my education. I am taking this course and participating fully because I want to. Period. It’s education for the point of being educated. Education because of interest, not to fulfill a degree program.

    What I have discovered is that I’m learning as much from my classmates as I am from the instructor. Yes, he is leading us to the information, but it is the voices from all over the world (there are more than 15,000 people in my class) that fascinate me. They are suggesting other works to read, they are pointing me to authors I never would have been exposed to, and they are reminding me of the joys of reading and learning.

    As another poster said, we spend an awful lot of time on social media sites, basically wasting time. I would much rather “waste time” taking a class where my brain is enriched. If that constitutes an experiment of sorts, then I would gladly be a lab rat over and over and over again.

  15. Roland Yamamoto on said:

    In my opinion, MOOCs are just part of the continuing evolution and organic progress of accessible information that has been empowered by the web. I have taken a Hawaiian language course online, and my wife completed her BA online from Washington State U. MOOCs are a positive direction for education, because they provide the courses in a convenient and cost effective way, and that is all good. Sure, there are growing pains, and in the future the class content will likely be more robust and better designed. But who can deny the proven popularity and benefits to us, the students?

  16. Nicky Moxey on said:

    What could be more appropriate than for institutions whose charters demand that they provide education, than to take part in MOOCs? I have been blissfully unaware of controversy around them, but am now embarking on my second course where the flesh-and-blood students at the institution get something out of the experience too; not a disruptive, but an enriching, experiment.

  17. HHarry Nicholson on said:

    This sort of education is a mind expanding and inevitable consequence of global communication, it should not be hindered.

  18. Jude Morris on said:

    I am a retired senior and am thrilled with MOOCs as they allow me to continue my exploration of various topics on a limited budget. As a career educator I find the concept intriguing, and I know that in my graduate studies I would have benefited from the ability to take courses through universities and colleges other than my own. I foresee an educational world in which collaboration among colleges results in better educated graduates who are able to draw from courses provided by leading experts in their fields. In education controversy constantly erupts over innovation. In my experience those teaching at the college level are always the last to embrace what educational research demonstrates are best teaching techniques for better student learning. The focus of higher education, despite what it constantly claims about student education, has always been the professor and the topic at hand and NOT what best serves the LEARNING of the topic. Students can profit from MOOCs in that they allow perusal at a student’s convenience and pace; they allow the instructor to easily provide a wide variety of outside learning sources, removing reliance on a single textbook; they allow guest lectures and films and other media sources to be easily integrated into the learning experience. I see the cost advantages to a college of a single instructor providing instruction to students from a wide variety of institutions. I also see students better utilizing colleges close at hand and thus saving money on travel, university housing costs, texts, etc. MOOCS are the future of education.

    • Anonymous on said:

      I agree 100% with Jude Morris. MOOCs are definitely a positive development – it is a win-win situation for everyone – students, professors, universities. Understandably there is doubt, but in a few years’ time, I am sure more learning will be done INCLUDING MOOCs.

      • Judy said and explained it best. Two thumbs up. This is my first MOOC class and I’m looking forward to others.

        • This MOOC is mind blowing. Here in South Yorkshire, I am discovering that I am not alone in my fascination for a subject so often written off as ‘light reading’. My first course, and I’m still in the shallows of MOOCing but what a window on the world. Thank you.

  19. Leslie Rodier on said:

    While this might not be the case for all MOOCs, I don’t consider my experience of this MOOC — my first — to be disruptive or revolutionary compared to traditional coursework. While other courses may differ, I consider this MOOC a Chautauqua movement for our time. It’s a wonderful opportunity to remember the joy of thinking and writing about books in a different way than book club chit chat or ordinary conversations. It’s given me an opportunity to remember the love of narratives that immersed me as an English major thirty-some years ago.

  20. Are the costs of MOOC’s justified? That depends I would assume on which end of the class you are on. For me, yes, as I am unable to attend a traditional school for reasons of both time and financial constraints. I am currently on my second MOOC course and am finding the information and knowledge gained very valuable to my personal growth and my thirst for knowledge. Rather than using the internet for other pursuits, I am being given the opportunity to take classes that interest me without the constraints of having to choose a particular major and to then be required to follow that chosen path of courses. My first MOOC course was Social Psychology, which was presented by Wesleyan University, an Ivy League school that I could have never had the opportunity to be exposed to if not for it being offered on Coursera. My current MOOC is a historical fiction course, very different from my first course but one that I am very much enjoying and that covers one of my many interests, books. Also invaluable are the discussion forums that unite people from all over the world and offer them the opportunity to converse on subjects that interest them. As much of our lives are now devoted to abbreviating everything that we wish to say and digitally sending them across the wire, it is refreshing to be able to engage in intelligent conversation, mostly written in whole words, with like minded people and to hear the different perspectives that geography can impart on a discussion. MOOC’s….Priceless.

  21. Stuart Lutzenhiser on said:

    I think the “revolution” is the cost and not the delivery. Online or distance learning has been around for a while. I took some distance learning courses in the early ‘90s and found them very effective, for what they were which was introductory world history courses. However, the college charged the same fee when I spent nearly no time in the classroom other than 2 proctored exams per quarter. I didn’t complain about it at the time and was thankful for the ability to take the course on my own time and at a slightly more flexible schedule. So, I view MOOCs not as revolutionary in distance learning’s development but much more disruptive in the economic argument.
    I can see how it is possible that it costs Universities more to provide entry level courses live on campus than they get in tuition fees, thus making it more cost efficient to provide these for free online. Or is there an economic model wherein it is better to allow professors to develop courses online rather than in person since once the course is developed then the staff can move on to other projects and not continue to teach Math 101 each quarter. This would enable the University to lower their staff counts and still teach the same amount of material. I find this the most potential disruptive part of the MOOC model, which makes it strange to me to see so many professors very excited about pushing this initiative forward when it seems like many of them will just work themselves out of a job, perhaps.

  22. Anonymous on said:

    I think that MOOCa are an innovative opportunity that enables people from even remote part of the world to take part in it. The fact that there are many courses and choices does not interfere in the quality of the course but is rather something inevitable in this digital era and interconnected world in general. The selection should be done by people using it that can choose what they prefer based on their knowledge or suggestions of other people that have taken it in the past. The course give an outline about the future lessons so the participants can see if they have interest or not in the topic and the way is dealt. Something that could help in the choice of the main courses is a clear outline visible before the person decides to take part and a biography. As far as the course is concerned it could be useful if the teachers ask the participant for contributions through email on-line presentations and so on as the participants feel more confident with. I think that they are a great opportunity that everybody should try so he can get more impulses and insights in topics in which he has interest.

  23. I’m not clear on what the controversy is exactly. The article linked didn’t explain well to non-insiders. Personally, I think there should be a controversy over donors having any say in education whatsoever. Allowing them a voice only fetishizes wealth.

    I’m probably off topic with what I’m going to write, but I’d argue that everything is bound up together.

    Universities are extremely important. To an extent. Others have already pointed out that a college education is becoming somewhat elitist given the extreme cost. (Massive, across the board cuts in pay for coaches would help a lot.) Without a college degree, however, employment prospects diminish significantly. And women with college degrees don’t make as much as men, likely because they’re not taught to negotiate or advocate for themselves.

    On the other hand, at least in my area, the market is so flooded with degrees that even full time employment with non-living wage jobs require a BA or BS. How does it help anyone that people responsible for filing and answering phones need degrees? How is that a good use of resources? From another perspective, however, what would enable strong scholarship and research without putting a commercial enterprise’s interests (hopefully!) if society doesn’t continue putting a very high value on the institution of the university? Everyone wants their kid to be advanced, but we won’t pay teachers or reduce classroom sizes. Even the lecturer jobs at universities signify a huge problem. Where we put our resources signifies our values. If education is important, we should pay for it. Handsomely. Same with artists. Good art isn’t free.

    I would be devastated if any college-bound child of mine (I’d be perfectly happy if they went to trade school if that’s what they wanted) had access only to online education. (Although I think it’s far too easy to skip classes and party instead of study–a problem for which I don’t have a solution.) Humans need other people like horses need the company of other horses. My husband made life-long friends in college. People I’ve become very close with. People we see every year. I don’t think having an online class with the option–if the person isn’t in an isolated area–of meeting with others comes close to taking a class where you have to show up and interact with other people face to face.

    I think MOOCs are a fabulous resource. But I see them as supplementary only. The more we move away from nature, away from human interaction to virtual interaction, the easier it is to forget who we are. We are in this together. The idea of online education being the only option in the future makes my heart heavy.

    • The Great Forgetting by nicholas Carr in the November Atlantic Monthly might have some good ideas and concepts applicable to the idea of a MOOC.

  24. Anonymous on said:

    MOOCs, in my experience, are not disruptive. Several of the Coursera classes I have participated in were run in conjunction with university courses at the university offering the course, with the aim of enriching the experience of both the students at the university and those online. It is invaluable to any learning to be exposed to a vast array of opinions and points of view. A MOOC means that your fellow students come from all over the world. For example, I am currently involved in two separate courses about terrorism, one from Duke University and one from Universiteit Leiden in The Hague. Learning with students from all over the world about this timely subject has made both courses so uniquely revelatory. In every course I have completed (12 in the last year) the learning has taken place as much in the discussion forums as from the lectures. I am not pursuing a degree, I am pursuing learning. Any university that places the distribution and flourishing of learning at the heart of their manifesto should be investigating and developing MOOCs. Anything new initially seems scary, but institutions dedicated to extending education must not be restrained by fear. Let the learning thrive!

  25. Anonymous on said:

    To what extent are your feelings about and experiences of MOOCs influenced by the conversations around them in journalism, higher education, etc.? Do you see MOOCs as “disruptive” or “revolutionary” to universities, whether in the United States or your own country/region?

    Do you see MOOCs as an example of “digital innovation”? In your experience, are MOOCs described (and marketed) as such an innovative technological solution that “online education” refers mostly/only to lieve that the time, energy, and expense universities are investing in MOOCs are justified by the supposedly experimental nature of the medium? (“It’s an experiment. We’ll see what happens.”)

  26. Ann Onymous on said:

    MOOC has brought education withing the reach of millions all over the world. It has also enabled teachers to disseminate knowledge eager learners bypassing geopolitical and academic hubris. The only parties that are fearful of MOOC are institutions and “professors” who are still medieval in their thinking and are fearful of climbing down from their ivory towers to face the fast changing nature of education in the 21st century.

  27. Anonymous on said:

    I think that MOOCa are an innovative opportunity that enables people from even remote part of the world to take part in it. The fact that there are many courses and choices does not interfere in the quality of the course but is rather something inevitable in this digital era and interconnected world in general. The selection should be done by people using it that can choose what they prefer based on their knowledge or suggestions of other people that have taken it in the past. The courses give an outline about the future lessons so the participants can see if they have interest or not in the topic as they progress. Something that could help in the choice of the courses could be a clear outline visible beforehand so the person decides to take part and a bibliography or list of resources. As far as the course is concerned it could be useful if the teachers ask the participants for contributions through email on-line presentations and so on as the participants feel more confident with. I think that they are a great opportunity that everybody who wants to learn and can organize himself to follow the courses should try so he can get more impulses and insights in topics in which he has interest.

  28. Julie Heath on said:

    My feelings about MOOCs at this point are not really influenced by conversations around them in journalism and in higher education. My role in relation to MOOCs is student; I am here to learn. What influences me is the value that I find in courses I am enrolled in and that is mostly extremely good. The Historical Fiction course is a shining example. I don’t feel that MOOCs are disruptive to universities though they may well be revolutionary; the role that they play may at times be different from University courses and at times may augment university courses.
    Perhaps while in a MOOC, I see reflections of a particular institution. I fall slightly in love. I want to experience all that institution has to offer. The enrichment I find in that MOOC could be argued to personal to me but every time I interact with someone (perhaps the students at the institution offering the MOOC), I may enrich them as well due to my geography, my personal experience, my gender, my age, my race. It is difficult to guess the ways that a MOOC could ultimately benefit that institution in the end; a professionally produced and offered course could be at least as effective in promoting a school as a well-produced promo video and brochure.
    I think whether MOOCs are an example of digital innovation depends on the instructor. There are all kinds of course management tools out there but the extent to which available technology is incorporated and really used varies; as usual with teaching, some folks employ “sage on the stage” methodology and the only thing that makes it different is that it is DIGITAL sage on the stage methodology. Others use technology to provide opportunities for a wide variety of activities and interaction and this is where I see a truly revolutionary learning experience.
    In terms of whether the time, energy and expense universities are investing in MOOCs is justified: yes, yes, unqualifiedly yes. What is the role of universities in our society? To naïve hoping me, universities are beacons of learning and I hope they always will be.

  29. mildred Purdy on said:


  30. Morris Taber on said:

    As a retired college level educator, I like the MOOC approach — as long as it remains strictly non credit. Then it is only for fun and enlightenment. I am very dubious about replacing in person teaching with online credits, etc. I want control over who I give credit for work done. Online credits can too easily be rigged.

    In short, I believe that courses such as this are completely different from online for credit. Thus the two should not be confused or compared.

  31. Suzanne Fisher on said:

    I’ve been reading about MOOCs since they started, mostly on “Wired Campus,” the “Chronicle of High Education” e-newsletter. My first impression of them was that they represent a noble ideal of education for everyone, anywhere in the world. In reality they are not available to everyone, only people with access to the internet. As I continued to read about the growing controversy surrounding MOOCs, I began to have some reservations about them. Mary Perry wrote “A Star MOOC Professor Defects – at Least for Now” (, Sept. 3, 2013) about a Princeton sociology professor whose MOOC was very popular, but who stopped offering it after Coursera approached him about licensing his course so other college could use the content in a “blended” format, which could save the colleges money. “I’ve said no because I think that it’a an excuse for state legislatures to cut funding to state universities,” the professor said. He gave other reasons for not continuing to offer his MOOC, although he said it was “one of the greatest experiences of my career.” Philosophy professors at San Jose State U. refused to teach a MOOC, warning of schools “replacing faculty with cheap online education.” I should disclose here that my son has a PhD and teaches at the college level. I know how long and how much work it took him to get his degree, and his dedication to his profession, and I would hate to see him or any of his colleagues replaced if higher education becomes “franchised” the way these professors fear. Coursera and other MOOC platforms have a not-so-hidden agenda of getting a lot of revenue from selling their courses. At what expense, and at whose expense?
    Obviously MOOCs are disruptive, because they have caused and continue to cause disruption among faculty and administrators on many campuses.
    I wanted to take Professor Holsinger’s historical fiction course because I have a background in literature, and in my job as a public librarian I led book discussion groups and created literature-based programs. Now that I’m retired, if I lead or participate in a book discussion in the future, the readings and lectures from the course will be helpful. I’m impressed by the amount of work the professor has put into the course – reading lists, lectures, the effort he has gone to to bring authors in to discuss their work. I’ve learned about authors and works I did not know before, and I’ve learned a great deal about the development of historical fiction as a genre.
    What the MOOC has been for me so far is sitting in my home watching recorded lectures and reading. There is so much being posted on the discussion boards that is hard to sort out, and I don’t read most of it. It’s a bit frustrating. I’ve been in touch with several people in the “meet-up” section of the discussion boards, and we are going to physically meet and talk about the course and the readings. This is one of the best aspects of the MOOC so far, the opportunity to meet other students.
    I remember when online book discussions became popular for a while, but they seem to have faded away. Having led and been a member of book discussion groups, I can understand why people lost interest in them. Online learning is fun, and it is learning, but it’s not as stimulating as face-to-face interaction, whether online or in a room.
    I don’t find MOOCs revolutionary. Online learning has been going on for a long time. It has become more sophisticated.
    I wonder what the purposes/aims/goals of MOOCs in general are. I’ve never seen goals clearly state, except that of offering free quality courses to anyone with an internet connection. I also wonder how success is measured when the dropout rate from MOOCs is extremely high.
    I question the cost to taxpayers of public universities funding MOOCs and what, if anything, these costs take away from on-campus learning. I don’t know whether the “time, energy, and expense” schools are putting into MOOCs are justified. I think that is for the institutions to decide. I think faculty, not administrators, should be driving the MOOC bus.

  32. Karen Heenan-Davies on said:

    The innovative aspect of MOOCs really comes down to scale of the market they are serving and their price positioning. They are not the first to offer on line higher education (the Open University has been doing it for many years) but they really are the first to deliver to thousands of students simultaneously and to do so free of charge.
    But I don’t really see them as “disruptive innovation” in the sense Clayton Christiansen described it because they are not replacing traditional bricks and mortar universities – the two are co-existing and there is no reason to think they can’t continue to do so in the future.

    If the education providers are spending time and effort to develop MOOCS and that results in wider access to education, then to me it’s money well spent. Not only does this help people from disadvantaged groups within society but also from countries where access to education is considerably more restricted than it is in the west. The other benefit I see is that it’s a way of addressing the issue that life expectancy is increasing in many parts of the world yet retirement is happening earlier. MOOCs can help people who want to keep their minds active during those years when they want more from life than growing roses and watching daytime tv.

  33. Jonel Ford on said:

    As a retired community college teacher I am beyond delighted in this opportunity for the curious and serious to learn more. That’s what I’m doing (along with writing historical fiction) California Community colleges are funded by how many students complete courses, whereas we learned long ago that many who cannot finish courses come, get what they need, and go on to work or life the better for it!! Well worth the effort and money!!

  34. I love MOOCs and yes they are revolutionary in the way education should be. I am 72 years old and have been in education since I left home for kindergarden in 1947. Education is all about learning and MOOC’s are just the latest tool. Since my MA degree, I attended lectures and read many, many books to keep me learning. I also taught thousands of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students different subjects which kept me learning. Now I enjoy MOOCs. Because I still work in a school I can access the lessons on my own time and take classes that interest me and greatly expand my understanding of different subjects. I am all for MOOC’s – keep them coming.

  35. Dominique on said:

    Q1. I stumbled across MOOC accidently so if there is supposedly conversations going on about them they are not hitting main stream media in Australia.
    Q2. Online education has been going strong for some time in Australia, all three of my degrees had classes I could take exclusively online so no I don’t see MOOCs as Revolutionary Technology. What is Revolutionary is the fact you don’t have to pay for them so for once education is for the masses not just those who can afford the every increasing cost of quality education.
    Q3. I wasn’t aware MOOCs where an experiment from what I’ve seen they appear to be very well thought out and planned with the aim of bringing education to all.

    I’ve done the traditional University thing 3 times and what always irritated me was the fact I couldn’t take classes from “other” areas of either my own Uni or other establishments. MOOCs give me the ability to be studying things like Terrorism & Counter Terrorism at the same time as taking classes on Historical Fiction and I can do it all from a remote mine site in middle of no where Australia.

  36. Rose Fisk on said:

    Underemployed as I am, finding Coursera has saved my brain from dissolving into a slurry. I had no idea they were called MOOCs and had a controversy attached to them. But why a controversy? What can be so wrong with a university (and a professor) willing to provide such excellent information for free and feed the love of learning for its own sake? Nothing is wrong with it and I, as an older learner, am enjoying every bit of this course–listening to the lectures and the seminar, reading all the books. I can feel my brain returning to something more solid and useful. These free mass online courses are a great idea. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

  37. Jennifer Horejsi on said:

    I’ve recently enrolled in 5 MOOCs through Coursera. If MOOCs demonstrate on thing, it is that people are interested in lifelong learning. This is particularly noticeable as more humanities classes are being offered, and drawing tens of thousands of students. I hope that this encourages universities to invest more in their humanities programs, not just worry about the research “moneymakers.” It is, however, entirely unclear to me how the former rector and Board at the University of Virginia last year thought online classes–particularly MOOCs–would solve any financial crises, or, in fact, solve any financial problems. My understanding is that online classes, whether open or closed, are significantly more expensive and time-consuming then traditional teaching. I think being involved in MOOCs are good for universities as gestures of goodwill, publicity, public relations, but I’m not sure how they are financially beneficial for their providers. The use of technology is the part that is truly innovative, the class structures are not than unusual. They could replace some large lecture formats that are graded based solely on tests and quizzes, where teacher interactive is low anyhow. They can’t replace group or one-on-one interaction between teachers and students, and there is no fair way to grade subjective assignments, like papers. So, while they are delightful for the participants, I question their long-term financial viability.

  38. Barbara Ferrara on said:

    I do see MOOCs as revolutionary in the sense that it provides the self-motivated learner a barrier-free or barrier-reduced opportunity to explore new subjects, play with new technologies perhaps, gain diverse perspectives from around the world and fill time with a meaningful activity (meaningful in the sense of self-selected activity, not a better activity than somthing else). As a librarian, I have been a graduate student, a research assistant, a reader’s advisor, a computer trainer (everyone got an e-reader last year), and even a proctor. I am also a consumer of information in all formats. As an employee, I identify as a librarian, but part of that is a responsibility to keep up-to-date on emerging trends in the field and best practices and to build relationships with other librarians. As an employer, I am looking for staff members who can relate to our customers or patrons by having experiences that will give value to their library use. This (fortunately or unfortunately) often means digital literacy and I love to interview those who can demonstrate enthusiasm for learning new things, experience with a variety of technologies and media and a sense of personal responsibility for their development. I would love to have someone tell me they took a MOOC and know about discussion threads and Adobe plug-ins and video streaming and relating to people online. It fits with today’s job market. Instead of Massive Open Online Courses, maybe Local Open Online Courses can be incorporated (like to bring it closer to home. From the community/citizenship standpoint, I applaud public universities for contributing the resources of their institutions and staff in bettering their state or nation, which is a very significant factor in improved quality of life, literacy, and ultimately economy. A college degree program, with a subject major, is not for everyone. Back in the day there was much discussion about liberal arts education vs. more vocational education and both options remain. MOOCs are only a new format.

    • Barbara Ferrara on said:

      I know this is already long, but did want to also say that the whole concept of being allowed to drop a course without a financial consequence is valuable because a person can explore subjects they may never have been accepted to a college or university in the traditional manner. Maybe taking a free course can further prepare someone to better explain or justify their wish to be accepted into a program or alternatively can save them from spending alot of money on a topic that they ultimately don’t want to pursue.

  39. Patrick on said:

    I am outside the university realm, so I don’t see the issues that seem to be reported. For the most part, students are more concerned with what they are learning (and also the person giving them that learning) than they are about the structure and politics of the institution providing the administration and infrastructure. A outside example is that students don’t really care who the top people are at the school/university, and they don’t care who the buildings are named after. The same goes for a MOOC. We sign up for a class because it interests us, and the initial investment is nil. We continue with the class because we like the presenter/presentation, and find a use to the information we are learning. We drop out of the class because either we are no longer interested or we have other outside issues preventing continuance. Same for a regular university as a MOOC. The difference is that a MOOC is ‘right here at home’, not miles and countries away, and that a MOOC costs nothing if you want to or have to drop out. No one is looking, you are just free to learn. My ex-businessman persona is wondering how they will ‘monetize’ MOOCs, but for now I really don’t care. I appreciate the universities giving all of us the opportunity to learn.

  40. MOOC’s have made it possible for myself, an elderly person, to participate and continue learning. I have waited for this to happen and I love it and intend to continue taking whatever courses I can.

    At the moment I am studying a fascinating subject; The Historical Novel.

  41. Sharrie on said:

    Im one of those people who cannot sit down and listen to lectures that go on for hours at a time. With these online courses, they are broken down into time manageable videos and if you miss something, you can replay the video again!

    Im also not in the financial stability at the moment to get the degree of my dreams, but with online courses, they better my understanding of the world aswell as prepare me for when i am ready to go to uni/college.

    Online courses are the better alternative for those who can not afford higher education, as it is a community based learning, aswel as lectors who actually give a damn about what they are teaching.

    Thumbs up to the revolution to learning!!!!! :)

  42. Janet Hallmark on said:

    I have been enrolled in many MOOCs, mostly through Coursera. I have found the experience enjoyable and enlightening. I have not been influenced by media articles or reports about MOOCs, and I don’t believe they are disruptive or revolutionary, in its destructive sense. MOOCs are definitely a digital innovation and are worth the time, effort and funds involved to create and present the course. The best course I have taken so far involved not just one professor, but the entire academic department, including many professors and graduate students. The presenters and the world-wide group of students formed a tight-knit virtual community, all sharing knowledge. As a retired educator, I was very impressed by this course and I believe that the presenters gained as much benefit as the MOOC students.
    MOOCs have been criticized for the high drop-out rate. I have dropped out of several courses, mainly because I realized after the course started that I did not have the background knowledge for the course or that I would not have the necessary time to complete the course. In some cases, I remained enrolled just to view some of the video lectures and have access to the forums and reading lists, even though I did not complete the quizzes and assignments. In these cases, I fell on the “drop-out” side of statistics, but I still gained knowledge that I did not have before. I don’t consider that as a failure.

  43. Anonymous on said:

    MOOC’s are an advertisement for the education providers and their educators, showcasing subject matter expertise. They introduce students to online learning, which may influence enrolments in similar accredited courses. For direct economic reward, providers would need to offer accreditation for subjects and courses to gain long-term commitment from global students. Providers may not be driven to develop accredited low cost global offerings, due to reliance on on-campus local and international student revenue. Investment in high volume global teaching is at odds with many providers’ research aims and rankings.
    The potential for online student collaboration with MOOCs is vast, bringing in global perspectives and vast personal experience. True accreditation however cannot be assessed in large virtual classrooms. Peer feedback is extremely valuable, however cumulative and constructive feedback from educators is required for students to develop comprehensive subject knowledge and academic skills, in more intimate online or face-to-face settings.
    With providers developing online learning materials for their fee-paying students, it may not be too much of a financial burden to transfer content to a MOOC’s. Though the facilitation of such large groups is considerable, the huge exposure is probably well worth it. It should be recognised as a philanthropic donation to the ongoing development of education and global learning.
    MOOCs showcase providers’ skills and varying approaches to a global academic audience. This sharing of learning technology and online delivery will influence the development of future online units, be they fee paying or MOOCs, which should enrich the learning experience for students everywhere.
    Susannah Oddi, Australia
    MOOC’s student
    Masters student studying through an online university
    Unit Coordinator for an online university offering degree qualifications.

  44. Keira Morgan on said:

    Since I have been living in my own little world lately I can honestly say that my feelings and opinions about MOOCs have been influenced only by this first experience with the methodology. I am fortunate in that the subject matter is specifically in my area of interest and this course content on the historical novel is excellent.

    The social media element is more than a bit daunting. If I agree to receive posts on a thread I find my email inundated with dozens of new posts each time I open my mail. I find I cannot process all the content from the other students even when it sounds interesting. This aspect of massive numbers overwhelms me. It is the problem of being in a first year class again only multiplied a thousand fold. There must be a way of streaming so students can search for only those that meet criteria that apply to them so they can manage the flood. Right now I find myself focusing only on the instructor directed content because the rest is too vast and too disorganized. In that way, I suppose it is in the early revolutionary stage, sloppy and out of hand, still open and populist.

    One big concern I have is the dominance of the English language and the American or perhaps the western cultural perspective that permeates the offerings. Though of course, I cannot know that for sure since I am not familiar with say Arabic or Chinese say and how their MOOCs are doing, if they have such things.

    My thoughts.


  45. As a retiree, I can’t think of a better way (than lifelong learning) to exercise my brain. I’ve been taking online classes for awhile now, and I love that the higher learning establishments now offer free classes. The quality has jumped dramatically (along with the technology) and what better investment can a university make than in lifelong learning! Also, for young learners, what better way to figure out what you love (before making a huge financial investment) then to take lots of free classes.

  46. Judith Lee on said:

    In order of the questions. Not at all. Yes I think it is. And it is magnificent and offers a whole world of ideas to those limited by jobs, families, cost etc from more study. I told my very bright grandson about it and he has done two courses already and really stretched his mind even before university.

  47. Rakiel on said:

    in a consumer’s perspective
    *is a vessel for knowledge exclusive to paid schools to be distributed to people who can’t afford to go to those univesities for mostly financial and regional reasons
    *paid certificate courses at coursera are cheaper alternatives to paying the tuition, worrying about allowance, etc.
    *one can choose to enroll in a course based on interest.

    For People enrolled and paying tuition in those university providing free content
    *yes it may seem like they have been robbed
    *because something they paid for can be free
    however, a phisical school is better still with an opportunity to find real life mentors, make networks, and enjoy learning facilities

    On the business side
    *one can take this as sampling promotions or the internet’s so called freemium offers. where at certain extent its for free but add ons are fulfilled with a cost.
    also it is a marketing tactic giving some of these online MOOC users a taste of this university similar to an OPEN HOUSE event
    *on a social entrepreneurial sense, MOOCs are a disruptive innovations.
    What was exclusive to people who can have student loans or afford school is now being provided to a massive number of people for lesser the price.

    As a person who had been through college which courses was particularly immersed on entrepreneurship and design,
    I am still having a hard time adapting to how an online class works.
    or probably there is still something wrong with its ‘ergonomics’
    given that its a relatively new innovation.

    I have gone from having much interest to the content of the class to “dropping out” because of nuances of online studying. (on top of that, my country has really slow internet).

  48. shenzhijing on said:

    In my country,on-line education is not is the only one.But not all courses are free and some courses are not open to all.For example,Tsinghua university courses are only open to students of tsinghua university.The significance of MOOC is to make all the people who want to learn to get knowledge, and break the unfairness of education.MOOC lets everybody can enjoy higher education resources.In China, the number of on-line education platform is very little.More and more university should join MOOC.But there is no such thing as a free lunch,MOOC is based on a huge wealth chain.Where is the source of so much money?On this point,China has a long way to go.Meanwhile,Englishi is a big challenge to Chinese studens.

  49. • To what extent are your feelings about and experiences of MOOCs influenced by the conversations around them in journalism, higher education, etc.? Do you see MOOCs as “disruptive” or “revolutionary” to universities, whether in the United States or your own country/region?
    To be honest I had not heard of MOOCS until just before signing up for the course. But I would never make a judgement based on one single viewpoint.

    • Do you see MOOCs as an example of “digital innovation”? In your experience, are MOOCs described (and marketed) as such an innovative technological solution that “online education” refers mostly/only to MOOCs?
    I see MOOCs digital innovation but also as a natural progression really. As an Open University student , of 28 years experience, I have seen how that has developed into a more on-line based education facility(obviously NOT free of course) when I started with the OU each course had a summer schools, weekly local tutorials , over the years this has changed considerably; and for many tutorials are now on-line forums. So for me MOOCS seem just the next step. I am a life-long learner and wish to continue to be, so for me the fact they are free allows me to

    • Do you believe that the time, energy, and expense universities are investing in MOOCs are justified by the supposedly experimental nature of the medium? (“It’s an experiment. We’ll see what happens.”)
    I guess that’s for the universities to decide, but I sincerely hope they feel it is. It certainly has risk for the universities, but who knows it may encourage students to actually move on to study for a degree; these course after all only offer a ‘taster’ really and already for myself have encouraged research into new areas.
    Although I must add that I am old and cynical enough to believe that eventually the courses may be used to generate income.

    • Not meaning to be anonymous the above post from me Sue Gifford (the blog wouldn’t allow me to fill in appropriate details!¬!!

  50. Mark Reed on said:

    I do not see MOOC’s as disruptive or really revolutionary – what I do see them as is inclusive. They provide a medium for anyone to asynchronously access learning and information across geographic boundaries. This level of inclusion allows for increased input and access to information that is not available without this level of dialogue. I really believe this is what technology is for and can be used to really make a difference.

    To give you an example I have team that is spread geographically and I currently live in China as an expat. We are experimenting with this medium to see if it provides an avenue to allow a virtual team to experience material that they can then leverage to improve their own capabilities but also I want them to use it as another connection point within the team. This would not be possible without this type of learning option.

    Finally, I think as a university this is a great way to increase the knowledge and breath of their brand. My former job was as a University instructor and I would get so annoyed with people “bad mouthing” the university learning experience. However, you realize they do this because they have never experienced it. A MOOC provides an avenue for everyone to take that first step to experience the level of conversation the drives knowledge forward which is the epitome of the university experience.

    I think the MOOC environment is one that is not as revolutionary or disruptive as most would state. It is a organic learning environment with many moving parts – this leads to some chaos – but it also allows a level of inclusion and diverse experience that before was not possible. Now in China I can get up early and learn about historical fiction with peers and other literary icons where before I would have to do this in isolation with only my own thoughts to expand my thinking.

  51. Michael Furmaniuk on said:

    I’ve taken other online classes, specificially with O’Reilly’s online courses for certificates, and I thought that was fine. Although I was not sitting in a class learning with others next to me I could do it at my own pace and had an advisor who was very responsive to my needs and questions. In the past I have done classes specifically online, at a local Community College, as part of an experiment in a class (Japanese 101) that was trying to determine if online worked. Having worked in Tech companies for the past 20 years it seemed interesting to me, and I had some good feedback and a rapport with the professor (I got an A in the class both for helping and with the subject matter). While MOOC’s tend, to me, to be more of a buzzword about the current incarnation of Universities making a footprint in the online world, I don’t see it as much of a disruption. In some areas I don’t pay much attention to media coverage from MOOCs, I feel some instances get overblown or there is a bias of some kind in many stories (again my own opinion) but coverage of these sorts of online courses would probably do more for adding them into the social framework than make them an option that is not often easy to find. I had not known of Coursera, how I got the current UVa course I am in, until a friend had told me about it. Social networks aid more in referring these sorts of things, as I think media attention and journalists may only point you in the direction but wouldn’t be a sole recommendation. I see MOOCs more as a digitial evolution, they are not really revolutionay or innovative at this point, since many of the capabilities have been around for a long time (the Japanese course I mentioned earlier was done 10 years ago).
    Universities may be able to take advantage of giving an online option, whether for a discounted rate for certificate tracks (this is what O’Reilly does and used to partner with the University of Illinois for this) or just allow others to take courses for interest. I have wide ranging interests outside of my field of employment and I like to learn, having the option to jump into an online class and do the work is more exciting for me, as with a family it’s hard to find time to drive to a campus and take a course. In that area I find them innovative and I hope this continues.

  52. I had never considered journalism’s or higher educations’ opinions on MOOCs until I started taking this class. I hold a doctorate; I like to learn and I am happy that there is a format in which I can continue to learn about topics that interest me.

    Again, no thoughts on the second question either.

    These classes could very well become the way most people end up learning and obtaining degrees in higher education, as if they are done correctly they can be highly cost-efficient.

  53. Maureen Kerber on said:

    This is the definition of disruptive technology taken form Wikipedia:
    “A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.”

    For the most part, I don’t think that MOOC fits that definition. I think it is simply an alternate delivery system for the product which is, in this case, education. For some people, on-line learning is an improvement, for some it isn’t. I don’t think it will ever replace the classroom learning experience.

    In my opinion, MOOCs are a form of digital innovation but there are lots of other types of on-line education, including “for credit” online classes (limited in size), youtube “how to” videos, Skype seminars, etc.

    Time will tell if the experiment works out but I think it is a worth the investment because of the large number of students that you can reach. It seems to be the wave of the future & an institution that jumps in the game early will have an edge over the competition. While I prefer classroom learning, I wouldn’t be able to afford the time or money to take the same number of on-site classes that I am able to take online. Even if there were a small fee, I would pay to take MOOC. Given the vast numbers of students in the MOOC, this is a big financial opportunity for universities. I don’t think they will be free forever.

  54. Maria Ryder on said:

    I haven’t taken any notice of anything that the media might have had to say about MOOC’s. At the end of the day, I think it is great that so many lecturers, teaching aides and Universities, have given their time and resources to bring so many diverse and interesting courses to people from all over the world. I am 46 years old, I work a full time job, and due to financial constraints, etc., etc., etc., there is no way that I would ever have been able to participate in any University course in my own country, let alone in one from half way around the world. The courses are also opening up communication lines between people from widely divergent nations, cultures, backgrounds and so forth, who are coming together online through a shared interest. I’m sure the people in the media who are knocking these free courses are in almost all cases, recipients of a college education themselves. Well, I would like to say to them that not everyone has been as lucky as you, so stop being so cynical and derogatory. I for one, and I would imagine that I am not alone, am enjoying myself immensely. In addition, even though the courses that I am taking, on the whole do not have an accredited certificate, they are still relevant to my job and added to my CV show that I am a person who is motivated to try to improve their knowledge. A definite plus as far as employers are concerned. So, once more a big thank you to all of you out there who are making this an amazing experience for me.

  55. Cindy Garza on said:

    I’m not really qualified to say whether it’s worthwhile for the universities, but I love the idea of taking a class with thousands of other students from all over the world. I find the forums really engaging and the sheer variety of classes inspiring. This is my fifth or sixth MOOC, and I’ve had really positive experiences with all of them. Videotaped seminars, in particular, can feel very intimate but still inclusive, and lecture formats are fine too. I’ve been impressed with the quality of the offerings, on the whole — have only dropped one, and that was because of unanticipated constraints on my time, nothing about the class itself. I think the quality and quantity of students speaks volumes.

  56. moocs are the equivelant of many college classes I have taken for credit. I see a big future for whoever begins to market a cheap degree through these Moocs. I think that there are many people who would pay for this type of education at a low cost. The education could be delivered at a fraction of the cost of a traditional degree. Many of the traditional schools are pricing themselves out of business

  57. Kimberly Burnette-Dean on said:

    I work full-time in a public library and I also devote at least 15-20 hours per week to my work as a fiber artist. It would be almost impossible for me to find the time and especially the money to take any college courses in a traditional manner. This class is my first MOOC and I am enjoying it and already learning more in a short period of time than I did in a traditional college setting.

    The time and money that universities are devoting to MOOCs are definitely worthwhile because these classes are bringing education to anyone that has access to the Internet.

    To what extent are your feelings about and experiences of MOOCs influenced by the conversations around them in journalism, higher education, etc.? Do you see MOOCs as “disruptive” or “revolutionary” to universities, whether in the United States or your own country/region?
    Do you see MOOCs as an example of “digital innovation”? In your experience, are MOOCs described (and marketed) as such an innovative technological solution that “online education” refers mostly/only to MOOCs?
    Do you believe that the time, energy, and expense universities are investing in MOOCs are justified by the supposedly experimental nature of the medium? (“It’s an experiment. We’ll see what happens.”)

  58. Theda Franz on said:

    I think MOOC’s are the next step in education, not all people can get to a school. It’ s great for people like me who want to continue learning, can now learn about things I have an interest in without having to follow a prescribed program. I can interact with people from all over the world who also share my interest. I greatly appreciate all the work and effort put into the courses by the universities.

  59. Anonymous on said:

    For a senior citizen on limited income who desires to continue learning, MOOCs offer an accessible option without financial barriers. I have been interested since first hearing of the concept and I believe taking this MOOC is just the beginning of realizing my goal…lifetime learning at a post-secondary level.
    Based on the enrollment for this course, I believe folks from varied circumstances in many countries are enjoying the benefits of MOOCs. Those who prefer to pursue the traditional institutional programs in institutions will continue to do so. Colleges and Universities will not be adversely impacted by on-line courses, in my opinion.
    For some, MOOCS offer an opportunity that may be the only option available, for others they may provide an additional option to existing traditional formats. There’s a need for both.

  60. I can’t agree any more. the MOOC s is definately a innovative technological solution . For me, it’s really nice to find the courses i interesed. I can make the most of resours and time during the courses and attend the class any time , any where. It seems that life learning is not just a dream, i can continue studying history, music, drama, and so forth.

  61. WaWAWanda on said:

    I am an English teacher with an MFA. I am currently in the research phase for a historical novel and am viewing the lectures and seminars for Professor Holsinger’s Plagues, Witches, and War course about historical fiction. As someone who lives and writes in a rural area, I have loved this opportunity. While I am concerned about the proliferation of online courses in general, often without consideration of the preparation of the student, I think these courses are wonderful in the way that lectures open to the public are wonderful. They exist for those who read, listen, observe, and wonder. The quality of this particular course is terrific, and I would not be able (or perhaps willing) to drive to a regional university and pay the fees for a for-credit course.

    • Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

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