There has been a lot of discussion recently about MOOCs (Massive open online course). Some of the discussion is around the obvious. Will MOOCs replace traditional classroom learning? Will they be able to take the place of a college degree? While many great minds weigh in and tackle these important scenarios, what I also find interesting is both the implementation and the outcomes of these courses.
I am a reasonably seasoned online educator and am completely familiar with what is possible in an online environment. There are many things that can happen in an online course, but what few want to discuss the technology barriers that exist for many students engaged in this form of education. From simple things like not having access to computers, broadband, and microphones to lack of knowledge about using an LMS (eg, Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, etc.). The chasm grows deeper when we get into things like using the internet and the assorted tools (email, calendars, google docs, etc.) that many of us take for granted. Many of which are required to fully engage in online courses.
Below is a list of recommended tools to produce the MOOC course deliverable. (Yet, I currently have students in my online courses who struggle to access wiki links and download files. )
Google Sites: https://sites.google.com
This wiki has more ideas:
‘50+ web 2.0 ways to tell a story’: http://50ways.wikispaces.com/
Having said that, the artefacts (not sure yet why it is spelled this way) that are produced from one course MOOC have been interesting. The comments from this one group of professors seems to finally be addressing many of these unspoken thoughts about the technology, the tools, the requirements, etc. It is even more fascinating that this group of professors have decided to engage in the MOOC experience to “test the waters” and blog about the experience.
One can only imagine what the educational landscape might look like in years to come, if this new delivery mechanism (1 to very many) proves fruitful. It makes me think about a 1998 Asimov clip, where he describes the 1 to 1 (teacher to student) ratio as the holy grail of educational experiences. Does the MOOC get us closer to this apex in teaching or move us farther away? I guess time and technology will tell.