From recent MOOC articles:
” I was having lunch with a brilliant, hip colleague in the digital humanities when the question of MOOCs came up. “MOOCs are over,” she said. “Administrators haven’t figured it out yet, but everyone else knows.” My tech-savviest administrator friend agreed. Having taken two or three online courses to check them out, he admitted it: “MOOCs are a sideshow.” ” (MOOCs: Usefully Middlebrow, Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/25/13)
“Much of the hope — and hype — surrounding MOOCs has focused on the promise of courses for students in poor countries with little access to higher education. But a separate survey from the University of Pennsylvania released last month found that about 80 percent of those taking the university’s MOOCs had already earned a degree of some kind.” (After Setbacks, Online Courses Are Rethought, New York Times, 12/10/13)
Was anyone really surprised to find out that most MOOC takers already have a college degree? Because really, MOOCs are set up for people who are independent learners, aka those who have already learned how to learn. Just look at the MOOC model as represented by Coursera and company. It does not in fact resemble anything close to best practices in online learning, such as small class size and synchronous sessions.
So what really drove the MOOC madness? Desire for an easy fix to what ails the higher education system? An eagerness to be ‘tech savvy’ and ‘innovative’? Money? Ideology? A serious naivete about good learning and instructional design? I’m sure all of those factors drove the craze.
Are MOOCs over? Not really. I think we’ve just witnessed the waxing and waning of the first evolutionary cycle of the thing we call MOOCs. Hopefully, the next cycle will be built upon the lessons learned from the first cycle. And maybe…just maybe, those with the greatest interest in MOOC success (e.g. administrators) will actually listen to the real experts in online learning: faculty, instructional designers, educational technologists and educational theorists.
Where do I think MOOCs are headed? Looking at who’s been attracted to them, I think they hold promise for professional development and for application-based certifications (e.g. technology). Undoubtedly, as they continue to evolve, and as their technology platforms continue to evolve, new ideas for uses will emerge.
Where do libraries fall into this?
If you have been at all involved in MOOC development up until now, you know how much time and effort they take to be planned, built and implemented. That’s a very expensive use of limited resources, especially human resources. There are better uses of your time.
That said, MOOCs themselves can serve as valuable information sources, just like books in a library (I wrote about this in a post some time ago). Librarians can evaluate, curate and promote MOOCs that may be beneficial to their users. Keeping abreast of MOOC development is also worthwhile.
As for professional development, I think the MOOC platform has great potential as a way to earn CE credits. However, because of cost it makes more sense to leave the development of such MOOCs up to professional organizations like the ALA and ISTE, and to universities where MLIS programs exist.
In the meantime, if you are interested in developing something that is MOOC-like, you can do it on a smaller scale using platforms such as Lore, Haiku Learning, or Edmodo. The concept of a MOOC for professional development is akin to a community of practice, and that can be easily achieved at a much smaller scale.
Yes, the honeyMOOC is over and reality has set in. I think that’s a good thing.