Half an Hour: MOOCs will ultimately play a transformational role

See on Scoop.itHow Tech Will Transform the Traditional Classroom

by Stephen Downes

 

“…while we may agree that these are weaknesses of the current model, the fact is that the advantages of MOOCs make it more desirable to press forward with the concept, rather than abandoning it and returning to traditional online and classroom-based courses and programs. 

“The first advantage is accessibility. As the name ‘Massive Open Online Course’ suggests, MOOCs are available to everyone, requiring only an Internet connection (now 40 per cent of the world’s population, according to the International Telecommunications Union). Even if certification is not available, the fact that participants do not need to pay tuition makes them especially attractive to people outside the traditional university audience. As evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of people registering for courses like Stanford AI (artificial intelligence), there is significant demand for open access to higher education content. 

“As important to accessibility is flexibility. People can, for the most part, pick their own time to study. Even if students miss the live online presentations, they can view the recorded archive. They can study the material at their own pace, and even if they fall behind, they can continue to access content, work through the examples and assignments, and continue to learn from the course. 

“And this is what points to the most important element in the future of MOOCs. Today MOOCs are hosted by Coursera or Udacity are based at universities. But over time, they will develop their own presence and their own existence. Take, for example, the Stanford AI course, or the Introduction to Complexity course offered by Melanie Mitchell. While at the moment they are strongly associated with an individual university, over time on sites like Complexity Explorer they will forge their own identity, separating themselves from their university origin. 

What will happen in such a scenario is that one course may be offered by several universities. There is no reason why the complexity course could not be shared by MIT, Stanford and the University of Calgary, with local services (such as tutorials, labs and social events) being provided by host institutions, while the content, community and activities are based in the online environment. In the past I have referred to this as the ‘online-host provider framework’.

“In any case, over time the importance of credentials and certificates will decline. What MOOCs offer is a place and a mechanism whereby individual students can participate in activities and events related to a discipline, work through challenges posed by the course with other members of the community in an online environment accessible worldwide (much like the way open source software works today). These activities leave digital traces, and future employers will not look so much at credentials as they will depend on intelligent software which harvests these traces and constructs a digital profile of prospective employees. 

“When we view MOOCs as a means of obtaining an education, and establishing a track record, rather than as courses leading to credentials, our original hesitation about the perceived weaknesses of MOOCs can be overcome. The democratization of learning will lead to large and small online courses provided by a range or providers – from major universities to governments to oil companies – but it will be students themselves who decide whether to participate, and whether these courses are worth their time.” Jim Lerman’s insight: Downes, one of the very earliest of MOOC designers and implementers, continues his leadership role in analyzing where they are headed and where their lasting impact may well lie.  

Zhang Meilan‘s insight:

Stephen Downes认为MOOCs将最终促进变革!他认为MOOCs有两大优势:1.可访问性,你只要能上网就可以学习MOOCs课程,而不需要缴纳学费;2.灵活性,你可以按自己的时间学习,即使错过实时授课,也可以回看纪录。

此外,他认为MOOCs的托管将来会不限于Coursera、Udasity等公司,大学也会创建自己的托管服务,一门课程也可能会由几所大学共同提供。

随时间的推移,MOOCs证书和文凭的重要性会有所下降。MOOCs提供的是一种机制、一个地方,让每个学生都可以参与相关的学科活动和事件,而这些活动留下的数字轨迹,会通过智能软件形成未来员工的数字形象,雇主通过这些数据而非文凭来了解员工。

Downes说:当我们看到MOOCs做为获得教育的手段并建立跟踪纪录,而不是获取文凭的工具的时候,我们当初的犹疑以及MOOCs的一些缺憾是可以弥补的。

 

See on halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk

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