Saturday, April 9, 2016

Non-transformational transformation

Chugging along (hey I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!) with my review of Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future, which started some time last year.  Today under the microscope is chapter 10, which is titled Redefining the Classroom: Integration of Open and Classroom Learning in Higher Education.  The abstract is as follows:

The printing technology revolutionized the dissemination of knowledge at a pace never conceived of earlier. In recent times, radio and television brought education within the reach of masses. More recently, the multimedia technology, and Internet have revolutionized the delivery of education. Top universities of the world have collaborated to develop massive open online courses (MOOCs) that are made available to public either free of charge or at a nominal cost. Mainly supported by start-ups such as Coursera, Udacity, and EdX, MOOCs are mostly created by universities in United States and Europe. This essay reviews the impact of these changes on higher education using available reports, articles, and meta-analyses. Although there is no conclusive evidence of the impact of MOOCs, there is a strong possibility of MOOCs leaving a lasting mark on the traditional higher education system. This chapter falls within the book section ‘RIA and education practice of MOOCs,' aligning to the discussion on the topic of ‘educational training design.'

This chapter made me do a double take, and I started questioning my underlying assumptions of what type of book I was reading, which prompted me to go back and re-read the mission of the book.  This chapter is a review of online and distance learning, in general, with a specific emphasis on MOOCs.  It's not a bad chapter, and it does fit in with the mission of the book. My own particular use for it might be as an introductory reading to online and distance education, with a little information about MOOCs if I were not feeling up to creating my own slides for a lecture. Even as an introductory text though, I'd take it with a grain of salt, perhaps asks students to not only read it, but go out and find information about the topic of MOOCs and supplement - and question - what this text provides.

There are three things that really stood out for me in this chapter:

1. You're citing wikipedia?!  Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who are of the mindset that you must never ever cite, or even use, wikipedia; but come on!  You're used wikipedia to cite Distance Education! As of today that article has  83 cited sources! You couldn't look at the sources and see what is available for you to dig a little deeper and get a definition of Distance Education from a source like the Handbook of Distance Education?

2. Someone with a background in learning, educational technology, or instructional design should have proof-read this and provided feedback to the authors (all of whom seem to be in computing sciences of one form or another). Some things are just plain wrong.  One of their claims, under the MOOC Pedagogy section is that "The teaching and learning theory and practice of xMOOCs has been termed Instructional Systems Design (ISD)" (p. 174).  Now - granted, this IS cited, so the error may have originated elsewhere (or maybe it's an error in the author's understanding), but this is just plain wrong.

3. The article at time lacks direction and it seems like they tried to fit in even the kitchen sink.  Academic Partnerships are mentioned as a MOOC provider (which they are not), they discuss, briefly, the Minerva Project, which is interesting, but I am not sure how it fits in, and they discuss blended learning - in general.  At the end, I really failed to see the impact that MOOCs have had on higher education through this article. It wasn't bad - I just expected more.


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