The Worldwide MOOC

MOOCs are perhaps the hottest topic both in the DH community and throughout the education system. In fact, it has been said that MOOCs and the study of them are changing so rapidly, there is something new being published about them nearly every day. The Chronicle of Higher Education is closely following the trend, and just yesterday printed an article and flow chart of the Major Players in the MOOC Universe.

Following the discussion panel titled “MOOCs in Higher Education: education for everyone?” held today at UMD, it is clear there are still many questions that need to be answered, not just for today’s audience, but across the MOOC universe.  Here are the ones Susie and I devised for class discussion.


• Where is the money coming from? How much is money motivating educational reform and encouraging them to enter into the MOOC sphere?
-UMD did not pay anything to join Coursera
-Coursera is free to students
-however, it is a for-profit institution
• How much does “marketing” play a role in MOOCs? How does this compare to tuition-based education?

• What are issues with public vs. private institutions? How does this tie into claims about elitism vs. open access?
• Even though it’s open to the masses, are MOOCs from schools such as Harvard, MIT, & UPenn giving you an elite/Ivy education?
• How could open access education help students who otherwise might not have been admitted to a four-year college, or be able to afford it?
-MOOCs similar to open admission at CUNY?
-stepping stone to a better education prior to attending a 4 yr university?
-access to elite institutions based on finances and admissions?

Purpose & Benefits
• What can you “do” with a MOOC? You can’t get a degree, ultimately, so what purpose do they serve?
-MOOCs supplement education
-thus far are not able to obtain more than a certificate
-MOOCs are not a replacement for traditional education
• Which types of classes work best in the MOOC format?
-subjects—some more effective in a MOOC format than others?
-which students benefit most from a MOOC format?

• How do MOOCs differ from a traditional campus-based education? What are the pros and cons?
• What is lost between the online platform & the traditional campus environment?
-proven that face-to-face interaction is important, beneficial & sought out
-meet ups between students in MOOCs
• How would you define our 668k class? Is it an online course? Hybrid course?
• How does evaluation change in an online/MOOC platform? Is peer review as effective? How do roles in the classroom shift when instructor/student ratios change so drastically?
-is peer review effective?
-instructor/student ratio
• How does online education interact with journalism, theatre, publishing and other fields of study?

Trendiness & Bureaucracy
• Is this just a “trend” and what role does college administration play in the MOOC movement?
• How are “disruption” and “innovation” helpful in reevaluating traditional structures?

Immigrants vs. Natives
• How will instructors have to adjust to digital teaching?
• What pressure is there to become a “digital immigrant?” Do you think this is a real problem?
• Will “digital natives” prefer MOOCs to traditional teaching in the future?

Efficacy & Retention
• Is attrition a bad thing? How does this affect a community of learners?
• Retention of students
-losing nearly 90% of initial registers
-quality of course/production value

Sample MOOC

6 thoughts on “The Worldwide MOOC

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