mass open online courses
A representative from Barefoot Technologies attended the “MOOCs, Rhizomes & Ruksacs” seminar at the College of Fine Arts on the 9th November. The main focus was on MOOCS – Massive, Open, Online Courses (typically free), with some interesting perspectives from Professor Curtis Bonk of Indiana University and Associate Professor Richard Buckland from UNSW.
Some examples of MOOCs can be found at Coursera, edX, and Udacity.
As with any disruptive technology, narratives of excitement run in parallel to narratives of anxiety. Some things to be excited about include:
- Open education – anybody, anywhere with access to the internet can enrol in these courses, and they’re usually free.
- Learning communities – because of their huge size, the onus is on students to create a conversation around the learning material, the teacher is no longer at the centre of the learning process, and a multiplicity of perspectives are available.
- Choice – teachers from some of the most prestigious universities in the world are putting their courses online meaning someone from Australia could do a course with a professor from Harvard without leaving home.
Some of the anxieties about MOOCs include:
- Increased competition – students will go online for their education rather than attend traditional universities, making the traditional university model less economically viable.
- Quality control – because of their sheer size, it’s impossible for teachers to give meaningful feedback to course participants, and accrediting courses and issuing certificates is problematic.