To MOOC or not to MOOC — Carpe Diem

Two weeks ago I started Gilly Salmon’s Carpe Diem MOOC through Swinburne Open Online Course. The six-week course is aimed at instructional designers and has over 1000 students — students may be the wrong term, let’s call them moocers. Roughly speaking there are two types of MOOCs: cMOOCs and xMOOCs. cMOOCs follow a “connectivism” approach, they gather a large amount of people in the same place to discuss and discover a topic. This approach is very open, because of the mode of learning – learning from each other. However, cMOOCs are not what the buzz is about an xMOOC is the course that I’m currently undertaking.

xMOOCs are those courses that the NewYork times is talking about, they can be found on many platforms, particularly Coursera, Udacity, and EdX. xMOOCs use the well non pedagogies of learning online such as, watch a video, do a quiz and discuss in a forum. There is some variations in how they are assessed but, basically they’re the same.

A Closer Look at Carpe Diem MOOC

This is a classic xMOOC. The content is curated, organised into a blackboard structure and filled with students who then ignore of connect with. The biggest job for those operating the this MOOC is getting students engaged. Two weeks in and already there is a massive dropout rate and I seem to have lost my login. This corresponds with the experience of other xMOOCs, it isn’t surprising but it is significant. Do MOOCs have a place in the education landscape?

On the whole, if you have already received an advanced education then you are more likely to remain in the MOOC ( but I don’t suppose this is particularly unusual as MOOCs are aimed at a niche group. Does this mean that MOOCs should not be targeted to the non-academic population? I hope not; after all, this is supposed to be the opening up of education both in money and use. However, it seems that to finish a MOOC is not simply about time but more about being a self-directed learner. Maybe MOOCs need a MOOC about how to learn in a MOOC.

The one thing that Carpe Die has taught me so far is that MOOCs are still in their infancy and there will be teething problems, so lets not jump to conclusions—just yet. I’ll have more of an understanding when I finish the MOOC, that’s if I can remember my login …

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