MOOC’s jumped onto the stage of educational technology with a bang, and have started a new trend in this field by taking once deeply held secret course content and lessons, and making it available for free to anyone who wants it. This trend has influenced the staunchest, most rigid systems to take a second look and re-evaluate why it got in the business of education in the first place. Although it has not been without a few black eyes, MOOCs have opened the doors to a whole new world of possibilities. Whether it is for work, basic retraining purposes, or to field test a course before paying for it, this system has become extremely popular. However, this system only exists because of learning analytics and it uses the collection of data from online quizzes, embedded videos, learning activities, and discussion threads to provide customized learning systems.
Nevertheless, it has its detractors. The main controversy around these types of courses has been around the assessment model. Strongly reliant on peer assessment models, it has had its issues; the most commonly known of which was Coursera’s Passion Driven Statistics Course via Wesleyan University. Numerous posts exploded on how classes over 1000 students were impossible to properly grade and that they would never be seen as a valuable option in education. This sentiment still exists, but the fears around it have somewhat placated with further research in subsequent courses that have provided results stymying the nasayers.
Since then numerous other companies have started and courses are now offered from many major institutions like MIT, Harvard, Cambridge and many more. Now you can choose from a number of different platforms such as edX, udacity, and coursersa.
Currently Cambridge University is offering a course on big data in education. I encourage you to take a look at the course description and sign up. Go through a few the first week modules and respond below or on twitter using the hashtag #mooc. Is this something you have considered, or do you see value in this type of learning environment?
For additional reading I have also included Plymouth University’s Educational Technology experts post on this topic. In it he poses a number of important questions about MOOCs and its future in this field.