Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Problem With MOOCs.

Here is an interesting article on MOOCs. If you don’t have time to read it I will give you a short version of it. MOOC is short for “Massive Open Online Course”. From my understanding, the article discusses MOOCs at the higher education level offered for credit and they can be free or be offered at a fraction of the normal cost. This article continues to discuss how they have not been successful and the “revolution” that was anticipated to occur by offering this free/low cost opportunity to learners has come to a halt. The author discusses MOOC competitors and the low success rate of MOOCs, but it does not go into depth as to what the underlying problem is. To state it as concisely as I can: 12 years of traditional education.

Think about it. For twelve years, students fall victim to developing a motivation in education that is fueled by someone else pushing them along. For twelve years, our schools have slowly developed students who enjoy the ride, but are not allowed to be the navigator in their journey. Starting with the gentle pat on the back to get on the bus on day one of kindergarten and sometimes ending with a forceful shove out of bed the senior year, a parent is a main motivation for why a student steps into our schools. Once they enter the school, the parent hands the reins over to the teacher. As I said before, the student is typically in the passenger seat during this whole time. Enter college and the reins are traditionally handed over to degree requirements to determine what courses a student enrolls in and, once enrolled, the reins are then handed over to the professor as the student steps into the classroom. The problem with MOOCs is that the reins are in the student’s hands and they do not know what to do with them. In this situation, to take the bull by the horns we have to think about the underlying theory of a MOOC.

The theory for a MOOC is similar to a matador dangling his cape in front of a bull until it comes charging through. Unfortunately, the “bulls” we produce in education need to be pulled, pushed, or prodded to engage the matador’s cape. If the higher ups want MOOCs to work at that level, they need to encourage public education to adopt a change of attitude at its level. State education departments need to back off and allow teachers to become matadors and our students to become charging bulls. I have said it before and I will say it again, 21st century technology has not been allowed to produce 21st century classrooms because of 20th century attitudes. The success of MOOCs depends on public education because the problem with MOOCs is not that they are ahead of the times, but they are ahead of the current attitudes in that realm.

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