Disruption in Higher Education: Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

By Skiba, Diane J. | Nursing Education Perspectives, November-December 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Disruption in Higher Education: Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Skiba, Diane J., Nursing Education Perspectives

TO START THE ACADEMIC YEAR, THE PRESIDENT OF OUR UNIVERSITY ESTABLISHED SEVERAL COMMITTEES TO ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. We are a public institution that receives minimal state support. I was asked to be on the Emerging Technologies Commiteee.

It has been fascinating to examine emerging technologies within the larger context of higher education. The committee was provided with several articles, blogs, and videos to reflect upon before meeting. Despite my long experience with online teaching, I must admit I was surprised when the president started the conversation with MOOCs, defined by Educause as "a model for delivering learning content online to virtually any person--and as many of them--who wants to take the course" (www.educause.edu/library/resources/ 7-things-you-should-know-about-moocs).

MOOCs can involve thousands of students. The structure tends to be asynchronous and flexible to accommodate the varying levels of participation. Anyone can participate for free in any or all of the course's learning activities (e.g., discussions, blogs, video lectures, other social media tools). While there may not be feedback from the instructor, chances are there will lots of discussion from all open participants.

The "so what" of MOOCs, according to Educause. is a dynamic learning model that offers collaborative and social engagement opportunities for learners to construct knowledge. MOOCs are a great mechanism for lifelong learning. The downsides include variability across and within courses and the lack of completion rates. MOOCs are not for all students, especially those who like structure, but "Digital Storytelling" and "Introduction to Artificial Intelligence," offered by two Stanford University professors, exceeded 100,000 learners.

Educause noted that George Siemens and Steven Downes offered the first MOOC, "Connectivism and Connective Knowledge." It turns out that Siemens and Downes were doing a MOOC titled "Current/Future State of Higher Education," which started on October 8, and I decided to participate. (The course is housed on the learning management system Desire2Learn: for more information, visit http://edfuture.net/.) I logged on and found an introduction to the course, the content being covered over the six weeks of the course, a list of readings, and access to the discussion group.

Module 1 is focused on higher education around the world with weekly topics, including Change Pressures: What Is Influencing Higher Education; Net Pedagogies: New Models of Teaching and Learning; Entrepreneurship and Commercial Activity: and Big Data and Analytics. For the first weekly topic, I chose to examine a few of the readings (see Sidebar) and looked at the learning activities, which included discussions about the readings, sharing resources on www.diigo.com, engaging in a Twitter conversation, and creating and sharing a concept map of the change drivers. An update arrives every day. Needless to say, I was quickly overwhelmed.

But the nice thing about MOOCs is, you can pick and choose as a lurker or as an active participant. Here is how the instructors describe the distributive nature of MOOC conversations: "There is no single space where you'll track the discussion. Conversations will happen on Twitter, Facebook, Desire2Learn, etc. The course is an activity stream rather than a particular destination. You may find this structure disorienting at first. From our experience, once acclimated to the distributed format, owning your own spaces of learning is valuable and (dare I say it) empowering."

I am definitely a lurker in the course, one who scans the discussions and checks the resource websites. From reading the blogs, I have found it fascinating how different people have approached the course. One blog that caught my interest, titled "Lifelong Learner: Claudia's Personal Learning Portfolio and Journal," provided a mindmap for the six weeks of the course and listed the changing pressures influencing higher education (http://claudiascholz.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Disruption in Higher Education: Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs)


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?