MOOCs: Money Making Schemes?

Sally Roy from Visual Academy emailed me out of the blue–a cold call of sorts–and asked me to blog about what I thought of the infographic called “The Money Making Schemes of MOOCs

The first bit looks like this (see below).

infographic moneymaking schemes of MOOCs

Originally, I hoped to blog on it myself, but I decided that it would make an interesting artefact for students in my online graduate education course on E-Learning and Education to contribute ideas.

We had a good conversation with this infographic as the focus. This thread of discussion generated 15 messages in response. There was a tension expressed between the notion of a MOOC as providing free and open education (good thing) vs. providing a source of revenue for higher education institutions or organizations following a business model (maybe not such a good thing).

I pointed out that these lines are blurred. For example, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding research into the learning that happens in MOOCs. This seems like a good thing. When students accept the conditions to participate in a MOOC, they usually consent to allow researchers to use their data from the MOOC. Learning analytics is a growing field and researchers (including some work that I’ve done) tries to identify students at risk and to intervene to help them. Other research is more accurately business analytics in the sense that administrators can perform predictive analytics that identify students who are more likely to succeed than others. Is that equitable?

My experiences with MOOCs are with two cMOOCs run by George Siemens and colleagues at Athabasca University in 2011. These were relatively small (~1200 enrolled) by current xMOOC standards (tens of thousands enrolled). They were a bit disruptive in the sense of radical connectivist pedagogy (decentralized networked learning experiences), not mass instruction through traditional lecture. As I was a postdoc and a mother to a toddler at the time, I found it difficult to keep up with the participation in Moodle, blogs, Twitter, and Elluminate (precursor to Collaborate) because it was not for course credit or for degree completion. I did not complete these MOOCs, which does not make me unusual as very few students actually complete MOOCs they enroll in.

However, I am considering enrolling in an upcoming Udacity course on design of everyday things because one of the instructors is Don Norman, who really influenced the notion of affordances. I’ve met him in person and got him to sign a first edition, first printing of his book. Pretty neat!


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