Saturday, 12 March 2016

Evaluating MOOC - Massive open online course - the future of education

Massive open online course (MOOC) are the product of the newer theories of networked learning and connectivitism. It allows for online courses targeting a large audience with large scale interactive participation and open access (free access) via the web. It provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students and teachers. (“Massive open online course” 2013).

Though massive, many of these courses do not have that many registrants and few complete the course. The activities could be synchronous or asynchronous, and is usually a flexible structure allowing for self-paced on demand learning. It allows for universally accessibility for a course thereby enabling extensive collaborative and interactive opportunities for students. The main disadvantage is that they have low teacher interactivity and feedback and this will not be acceptable for some students
who expect or thrive on a high level of teacher interaction. This phenomenon has revolutionised the relationship between learner and instructor and between schools and the wider community (Thompson, K November 2011).

The social pedagogical theoretical frameworks involved in the authors view are mainly networked learning and connectivitism.
The basic design of MOOC requires instructional design that facilitates large-scale feedback and interaction. It includes (“Massive open online course” 2013) :
·        Crowd-sourced interaction and feedback by leveraging the MOOC network, e.g. for peer-review, group collaboration
·        Automated feedback through objective, online assessments, e.g. quizzes and exams
The principles of connectivist pedagogy of MOOC include (“Massive open online course” 2013):
·       Aggregation.   It allows for a massive amount of content to be produced anywhere online, which is later aggregated as content page to participants on a regular basis. 
·        Remixing, - associating materials created within the course with each other and with materials elsewhere.
·       Re-purposing of aggregated and remixed materials to suit the goals of each participant.
·       Feeding forward, sharing of re-purposed ideas and content with other participants and the rest of the world.

12 benefits of a MOOC (Tangient LLC.( Jul 7, 2011)

  • 1.     You can organize a MOOC in any setting that has connectivity (which can include the Web, but also local connections via Wi-Fi e.g.)
  • 2.     You can organize it in any language you like (taking into account the main language of your target audience)
  • 3.     You can use any online tools that are relevant to your target region or that are already being used by the participants
  • 4.     You can move beyond time zones and physical boundaries
  • 5.     It can be organized as quickly as you can inform the participants (which makes it a powerful format for priority learning in e.g. aid relief)
  • 6.     Contextualized content can be shared by all
  • 7.     Learning happens in a more informal setting, at a place of your convenience and often around your own schedule.
  • 8.     Learning can also happen incidentally thanks to the unknown knowledge that pops up as the course participants start to exchange notes on the course’s study
  • 9.     You can connect across disciplines and corporate/institutional walls
  • 10. You don’t need a degree to follow the course, only the willingness to learn (at high speed)
  • 11. You add to your own personal learning environment and/or network by participating in a MOOC
  • 12. You will improve your lifelong learning skills, for participating in a MOOC forces you to think about your own learning and knowledge absorption

Example of a MOOC Course
Platform: Udemy course
Title: Foundations of Business Strategy by Michael Lenox

The Udemy platform allows for each course to have a repository of videos, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, documents, articles, links, pictures, and live sessions all formed into a series of lessons.
The user friendly interface allows for quick and easy organization and editing of lessons. It has the facility for synchronous teaching using virtual learning environment with live video chats, chat room, white boarding and presentation sharing.
A well-planned course balances three levels of interaction: faculty-to-student, student-to-student, and student-to-resources.(Boettcher, J. V. (2007).
Analyses of this MOOC site was performed using the principles governing connectivity that was included by Siemens G (2005).
Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.

In this category this course did not provide an opportunity for diversity of opinions as there was no connection with other nodes and other sources of information and knowledge.

Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources.

Here too, this course did not have connection to specialised nodes or information sources. The resources were confined to the course material that was available by the author and teacher with no other source material being made available

Learning may reside in non-human appliances.

Here this course did deliver in that it was a repository of learning artefacts in the form of video and PowerPoint slides

Learning is more critical than knowing.

The format of this course was mainly one of knowing rather than learning as there were no connectivity to other nodes and other sources of information to see the whole process of learning among the learners and teachers and other repository of resources.

Maintaining and nurturing connections

The course had chat functions but this was mainly for asynchronous use and there was no opportunity for synchronous communication between learners.

Perceiving connections between fields, ideas and concepts.

There was no connection between the various aspects of learning within this course. It was more for one way of information being delivered to the learner with very little connectivity and any form of facilitation of connection between learners. There were no forums or wikis to allow for knowledge to be shared and built upon for consumption among the learners.

Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge)  

This was clearly lacking in this course due to the fact that most of the material was outdated and there were no new information being added on either by the teacher or any of the learners. There was very little opportunity for learners to contribute to the learning of others.

Decision-making as a learning process.  

This component was not present in the course and very little flexibility was allowed for the participants.

Assessing the course for the enabling conditions as outlined by Pettenati  e al (Pettenati, M. C., & Cigognini, M. E. 2007), the following were noted for each of the areas.

The ability of the learners to have basics technology skill

By being an online course this was self-selecting as those who do not have basic technological skills would not have been able to register and sign up or navigate within the course

Generation and support of motivation

The course was unable to provide any form of support or motivation as it was purely the delivery of content material with very little support from the teachers or peer support through forums.

Relevance in learning and perceived real advantage by the learner

The content of the course was relevant with the availability and sequencing of topics that were relevant to management and strategy however it did not have a clearly stated learning outcome.

Positive group membership and culture

There were no opportunities for peer learners or tutors to connect with each other and develop and build the community with membership and culture. The only interaction that was available in the hosting platform was chat function.
 Social climate allows for mutual understanding and social grounding

There was no opportunity for peer-to-peer connection in this course and there was no possibility of social group being formed with mutual understanding and social grounding  

Boettcher, J. V. (2007).Citing website in Ten core principles for designing effective learning environments: Insights from brain research and pedagogical theory. Retrieved April 10 2913 from http

Goodyear, P.(2001) . Effective networked learning in higher education: notes and guidance. Publication of JCALT 2001.
 Massive open online course (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from Massive_open_online_course
Pettenati, M. C., & Cigognini, M. E. (2007). Social Networking Theories and Tools to Support Connectivist Learning Activities. International Journal of Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies (IJWLTT), 2(3), 42-60.

Siemens, G. (January 2005). Citing Website in International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning Retrieved March 21 2013,:From

Tangient LLC.( Jul 7, 2011) Citing website MoocGuide Benefits and challenges of a MOOC.. Retrieved april 10, 2013.from

Thompson, K (November 2011). Citing Website. In 7 things you should know about MOOCS, . Retrieved April 4, 2013, from

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