Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Pre-MOOC MOOCs

I have just been to the first webinar of the #octel mooc https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=7565&password=M.DE7761F09D9A3D6F03A998E592ED6D, where the chat window was discussing the pedagogy behind moocs, whether it is anything new, whether we can accredit from a MOOC (how can we do the marking) and other things...

To continue this thread I thought I would write down a list of projects that could have been labelled MOOC, had the term been invented yet.

iTunes U
iTunes U offers free content, from a proprietary (but free) software (iTunes). The content is hosted by the universities and fed to iTunes U via RSS. Not sure when this started, but the content is multimedia only (podcast, video), OPEN FORMATS (mp3, mp4), and arranged into courses (lecture 1 - lecture 10). I have 'attended' several Philosophy courses on iTunes U from the heavily produced (Justice with Michael Sandel) to the less so (one on Nietzche by Oxford U seemed to be nothing more than a voice recorder in a tutors pocket).

My question is to what extent does the MOOC offerings now (coursera, udacity, edX, ocTEL) enhance or change this model?

If the answer is that the other platforms have p2p communication tools and self-assesment, then to what extent does the Coursera/ Udacity MOOC platform differ from Moodle, which is open source, scalable, multimedia and open standards rich? Also a place where you can control your own content without giving it away to the coursera or udacity platform (which I believe is in the legal agreement with publishing through them)

My gut is telling me that iTunes U is no good today because it is too free. Nobody knows who has downloaded what. The other systems want you to enrol (ie give up your data), which I can only presume is profitable from a silicon valley point of view... iTunes U content is more capable of enabling 'offline' learning, as online access is not a pre-requisite, once the recordings are downloaded.

note... I do not work for iTunes U, but i think it is a good focal point for comparing what we have today.

Moodle
Moodle has been around for around 15 years now. It has always been open source, and for many years has been able to host video, quiz, discussion (wiki) activities. Why has nobody developed a moodle site and allowed thousands to self enrol for free? 

I know this is very possible because my University has an open Moodle site (https://openlearning.lancs.ac.uk) which anyone can self-register and self-enrol on courses. This was intended to be a hub of open content and courses, much like the MOOCs, but  perhaps more familiar? The problem is engaging tutors to see the point in opening their courses. It offers them or the university nothing (unless it is surrounded by the hype associated with FutureLearn, in which case...)

Wikipedia
Seriously,  we've been co-creating for a long time with Wikipedia to create the single largest body of knowledge in existence.  I've talked of the university of Wikipedia half heartedly for a while now,  but maybe some wiki plus discussion combination it seems at least viable. Needs a 'course format' to fit the bill here though.


Educational tablets

These are pretty new to the party, but is this the Panacea for mass education? An tablet with subscription based educational content. You can see other publishers quickly joining this game to e-leaning-y-fy their textbooks and sell units. And it fits the bill for 'university in my pocket' and 'off the shelf' technology.

I can see these selling like wildfire across schools and colleges, who want to present a tech-forward approach, and have existing subscriptions. But is the pedagogy any good, or is it good just for autonomous rote learning.


The whole thing makes me think that the game is still pretty open in terms of sales (there is lots more money to be made in Coursera courses or orange tablets), but fairly closed in terms of the pedagogy 
  • is this orange tablet a modern learning machine that supports autonomous fact collecting from animated resources - probably
  • is coursera making a splash because of enrolments, rather than something new in the teaching game - probably


I'm for taking moodle and adding the toolset (such as extended RSS Reader like the ocTEL reader) to enable the massive educational experiences. That way the platform is always open for people to download and re-mix, in a way that is not possible with Coursera and Udacity.


Can anyone else think of 'the others' in this race for massive-ified education or have something to add to my post

Please comment!!