Ohio musings

The subject of the discussion I participated in at the Ohio Confederation of Teacher Education Organizations (OCTEO) was “Why MOOCS, why now?” – on a panel including Susan Delagrange, English professor / MOOC-er from The Ohio State University and Larry Johnson, CAO for the University of Cincinnati.

My talking points were:

  • Now is a great time to be having this discussion – we’ve been through the hype and the post-hype let down, now is the time to coldly evaluate what is/was great about the MOOC concept, and what else is out there (technology / pedagogy-wise) that could be added to the mix to meet institutional goals.
  • MOOCs at least originally were not tasked with effectively addressing community-building, secure assessment or persistence / completion.
  • There are other means to meld elements of MOOCs with solid-great work that has been done over the last 15-20 years by Instructional Designers and Innovators in the field; the esteemed Chris Sessums (keynote in the morning prior to my session) being one of them.
  • We must be very aware of our target audience – demographic, prior exposure to higher education (successes / failures etc) when we decide on institutional strategy.
  • Fragile / post-traditional learners will not persist in a MOOC environment without comprehensive support and a boatload of intrinsic motivation addressed as part of the course build. “We can scale content, we can’t scale encouragement” (George Siemens)

I quoted from Richard Garrett’s recent post Google, EdX and MOOC.org: Addressing the problem or making it worse? specifically “If the consumers most in need of education innovation are the mass of under-prepared high school graduates or working adults, the students least familiar to schools involved in EdX, having EdX take the lead seems wrongheaded. Equally, EdX schools are not in the business of disrupting themselves, and are least open to and least in need of pedagogic reform.”

This was intended as encouragement – great discussions like those hosted this week in Columbus, OH among motivated practitioners are exactly what is needed to develop the next round of effective online courses. These courses should be Effective, Scalable and Evidence-based, cognizant of the latest pedagogies, leveraging technology, open resources and peer-to-peer activities.

The productive discussion evolved from “MOOCs – why now?” to “Who do we want to support through online/hybrid programming and how do we do that at scale?” The MOOC guys have learned a lot from their initial work – we should all be hugely appreciative of the way MOOCs have pushed the conversations front and center – elements have changed the game – now’s a great time for more discussion.


  • Thanks for the invite OCTEO stay in touch – this blog, Twitter kbell14 or Link’d in – whatever works
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