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Massive Open Online Course


OISE Aboriginal Worldviews and Education MOOC noted in New York Times!

Aboriginal Worldviews and Education, OISE's MOOC pilot, successfully ran during February 2013, using Coursera, a UofT initiative. Notable mentions in:

The EC consulted around the development with Dr. Jean-Paul Restoule. Thanks to Neil Tinker and Derek Hunt for their fine efforts during the pilot to make it the success it was.

This is an important course at an critical time in Canada. At a forum hosted by OISE in April, Former Prime Minister Paul Martin makes a point about First Nations education while National Chief Shawn Atleo and moderator Julia O’Sullivan look on.



MOOCs, the hype and reality.

The use of Information Technology in teaching and learning, the coursers initiative, and the future of MOOCs...

Presentation sponsored by "Curriculum Inquiry" (an OISE journal publication)

Professor Nicholas C Burbules
University of Illinois. (taught many courses in Coursera)


M – Massive
Scale is good, but what is gained by scale and what is lost?
ie) a regular course of 100 still has personal TAs who are accessible to students, that is not scalable.

O – Open
How to make money from it?  (For example, sell the list of the top 5% of students to company X who wants to recruit.)
Can you mix marketing and academics?

O – Online
The delivery medium.  Nothing about pedagogy.
A MOOC is not a instructional model, it's a delivery platform.

C – Course
What is a course? 
Currently non-credit, but a few smaller institutions have started to accept some. What if a student gets credit from another institution for it, then applies for transfer credit?

Hype -

1) MOOC is not an instructional model, it's a delivery platform
Little or no synchronous content
Tend towards quiz based questions and lecture format.

2) MOOCs will vastly expand access to higher eduction
Typical MOOC students are already interested in higher education
Very low completion rate
Students that don't normally do well in higher ed, don't do well in MOOCs. 

3) MOOCs will transform higher education
Who decides what the best instructors/courses are?
Higher Education has always been about investigating new ways of doing things, not having everyone learn the same thing.


Reality -

1) MOOCs are a disruptive technology
A good thing
Shake up 'business as usual'
Creating competition to universities, forcing them to change when there was no other competition before.

2) Not really 'courses'
Badges, certificates, etc.  not grades/course credit, etc.  how to evaluate / recognize?
Companies can leap frog over the model of Universities being 'proxies' to certify a person has gained a skill set, and get MOOC to show skill set directly
Cheating becomes more of an issue with a monetary incentive (job prospects)

3) Already evolving into something else
Blended-MOOCs, mini-MOOCs (which are not true MOOCs if they are 'mini')
Use MOOC material as content resource for locally taught courses
A MOOC course is just a digital 'textbook'
"Adaptive Instruction" – collects data from student and analyze where they are in the course and adjust the content to fit the needs of that student. 
Customized dynamic learning environment.
Also useful for 'flipped classrooms'

4) Universities need to diversify to stay competitive
Need to be involved if you want to help shape the new future of education

5) Over promising of what MOOCs can do

6) Cheating?  Still no way to prevent this.
Original model had no cheating incentive, since there was no reward a the end other that personal satisfaction.
MOOC providers have created the incentive to cheat by monetizing it

7) Need to Schools of Education to be part of this
Faculty of Ed's should be experts in what works and what doesn't for learning.


So what can we do with MOOCs?

MOOCs are good for:
- A way of learning new information (replace things like google searches, newspapers, etc.)
- Get a specific skill (job training)
- A supplement to the 'flipped classroom'

  • Universities are not just 'skill providers', but whole person development.  Learn things in university that you didn't know you wanted/needed to learn.  Not just a skill set that you thought you wanted to learn.
  • Some companies might just want a person to be very good at skill X, but most companies see the value in having a well rounded/developed employee with a variety of social and technical skills.
  • Do we loose liberal arts, since they are not very MOOC-able.  Computer-based learning is biased towards natural sciences.
  • Technology should eventually be able to overcome the digital limitations with some liberal arts
  • Coursera – gives 100% intellectual property to the instructor, not all MOOC/online institutions do that.



2013-14 SMT Forum Series: Forum on Technology

OISE, University of Toronto, November 28, 2013
Panelists: Professors Clare Brett, Paul Gries, Jim Hewitt, and Doctoral Candidate Stian Håklev.
Moderator: Professor Lance McCready

If MOOCs are the answer, what is the question?: While the popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) seems to be increasing rapidly, this new form of course delivery raises many important issues, including questions about pedagogy, the future of the professoriate, standards, credentialing, funding, and the corporatism of higher education.




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