Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

From Where I Sit - More to Moocs Than Moolah

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

From Where I Sit - More to Moocs Than Moolah

Article excerpt

I spent some of the past semester trying to be an active learner on a Coursera massive open online course (Mooc) on modern poetry from the University of Pennsylvania. It was an impressive, well-structured offering with a charismatic leader and great audio and visual materials. I completed only one quiz, and my sampling of materials was at best sporadic and idiosyncratic. It was very different from the contemporary American poetry course that I took with 30 others in 1970 in a dingy hall in the Old Quad at the University of Sydney. Then, Jim Tulip lectured for an hour, three times a week, without a note or a visual aid. I never missed a class or took a quiz, but I went prepared to all tutorials and Tulip personally graded every essay. Conversely, I never walked the two blocks to meet the guy who was running the Mooc, and I didn't turn in any papers for peer grading or post to a discussion thread.

Musing about the contrast, I started wondering what Moocs were really about. In this I am not alone. Much has been written about Moocs, but there seems to be little by way of solid study and analysis. So I began to sketch out a research agenda for Moocs. Most pundits seem to want to know how to "monetise" Moocs. The motivations are self-sustainability and profit. Solutions include having students pay for examinations. This looks like a return to the old model of examination boards and guilds - in which the opportunity to learn and the design and delivery of learning materials is separated from the assessment of competence, a separation that fragments the process of education.

The heart of the revenue issue is the assessment of learning. In a mass educational model in which learners are also peer evaluators, how are the assessments moderated for reliability and fairness? After all, this is the element with potential market value. How does a community or an employer know that learning has taken place? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.