Wednesday, 23 November 2016

About the MooCs ...

Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons
Oxford University has finally released its first Massive Open Online Course (MooC), joining the ranks of top American universities drawing in potential students, engaging people with barriers to access, advertising for free, and helping to revolutionize the future of learning. While the development of full undergrad degree programs delivered MooC-style is still under review, we can rest assured it is only a matter of time.

How will these courses be delivered? the masses wonder, and more interestingly: how will we keep an eye on  students? This is an interesting question, of course, because while it is good and possible to dupe a prof who isn't physically standing before you, most F2F universities don't have professors following you around to keep you honest, limiting engagement to lecture time. In fact, the only real difference than a MooC and a regular online course is the cashola, and I would argue anyone willing to sign themselves up and commit to a course in their free time is probably well motivated.

Truth be told, the progress this indicates is a sign of the times--learning is taking new shapes and new faces and will continue to innovate as part of the human experience because it is part of and shaped by the human experience.

Photo courtesy of Martin Boudreault
Rather than ride the coattails of tradition and elitism, the school is engaging the future and taking positive steps to not go the way of the Blackberry. It is important in all fields and with respect to all forms of evolution to be cognizant of your audience, stay reflective and fair, and be brave enough to take calculated risks. The same is true of education of course -- our lives are a process molded and shaped the the verbs we select and stifled only by the limitations we invent while telling stories about ourselves. If we can hold on and stay focused, anything is possible.

Good for Oxford.

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