To MOOC or not to MOOC

It’s interesting seeing how this topic is presented in OU, especially as I can also remember the IATEFL conference in 2014 where MOOCs were ‘the bomb’.  LITSIG had speakers extolling their virtues and describing them as the future of education.  However at this conference, there was also a well-known language learning app presenting, who shared that their dropout rate was 92%.

The idea to produce our own MOOCs was discussed but never followed through on.  Partially because of the resources required – man hours rather than finance.   But also because: would they even work in my field of learning?

The issue for language learning is that for most students the presence of a teacher is the primary motivator for learning.  And for effective learning it is generally acknowledged that practice makes perfect.  But could a MOOC be used to provide the repetive practice that every language student needs?  Vocabulary training, word families, the use of the Present Perfect tense, exam training.  The discussion between Siemens, Cormier and Weller (date unknown) alludes to this:  The use of MOOCs to support more traditional forms of teaching.  However if the future of MOOCs is to just fulfill this role, then why MOOC at all?  Instead, invest in a catalogue of OERs and OCW.

The current mode of thinking seems to be that MOOCs have already peaked (also suggested in White et al (2015)), but perhaps the legacy of MOOCs is that they have forced educators to look at how technology can revolutionise learning and to take a look at practices – have we really improved learning practices, or wrapped technology around pedagogies we already know and are comfortable with?



One thought on “To MOOC or not to MOOC

  1. erithacusrubecula says:

    A provocative last paragraph. Do you think that MOOCs are really dead, or are they just morphing as our understanding of what works, and what doesn’t, changes? I think you are because of your comment that MOOCs are about changing the way that educators can utilise resources and think about the way that teaching and learning is really happening.

    Great links. Thanks.


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