MOOC Sightings 003: FutureLearn, Microdegrees, ‘Open Internet’

MOOC Sightings2

UK’s FutureLearn, a part of Open University, “now hosts over 220 [MOOCs] from 44 partners.” Noteworthy is their completion and participation figures: “Of those that begin a FutureLearn course, 23% go on to complete the majority of steps and all of the assignments, while 39% of them interact with other users through social media, comments and conversations.”1 Takes the wind out of the less-than-10% completion argument, doesn’t it?

Right now, the MOOC’s disruptive path is being carved out in nanodegrees and microdegrees by developers and employers. “By forming partnerships and designing programs in conjunction with employers, ventures with new business models are offering their students programs and degrees that will make them more attractive job candidates.”2

The implications are enormous for colleges that understand this trend. Stuart M. Butler, senior fellow at Brookings, dubs it the “‘general contractor’ model of college education,” and says, “It is only a matter of time before enterprising colleges or other entrepreneurs start assembling comprehensive degree programs consisting of microdegrees supplemented by other experiences, such as a semester abroad and time at a small liberal arts college.” Adding employer-designed microdegrees to one’s transcript and resume seems like a no-brainer for college graduates entering the job market.

An alert from Claude Almansi: Open Internet, a 12-week MOOC that begins on March 6, 2015, is designed to “train a new generation of thinkers and actors to advocate for positive open and free internet policies and agendas from a human rights and public interest approach.” The course is free and offered in the Spanish language. Each week will feature a different module, and “each module will take approximately 2-5 hours of study time, including reading and completing assignments.” It will be hosted on the Peer 2 Peer University platform.

MOOCs appear to be a natural medium for social justice programs such as Open Internet, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we see an explosion of similar MOOCs worldwide and in many different languages. In the end, MOOCs may just be the great equalizer, serving as the training medium for the world’s human rights activists.

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1Growth in online courses shows need for universities to incorporate new technology in their teaching models, says expert,” Out-Law.com, Pinsent Masons, 24 Feb. 2015.

2 Stuart M. Butler, “How Google and Coursera may upend the traditional college degree,” TechTank, Brookings, 23 Feb. 2015.

MOOC Sightings 002: Oxford Professor Declares MOOCs the Loser

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William Whyte, professor of social and architectural history at St John’s College Oxford, assures us that in the “battle” of MOOCs vs traditional campus-based universities, “The MOOC will prove to [be] the loser.”1 He parades the usual suspects for their demise: low completion rates and absence of credits and degrees.

He tosses Britain’s E-University and Open University in with MOOCs for what amounts to a clean sweep of online programs. Two birds with one stone, as it were. He cites E-University as a costly failure and Open University as “actually a rather traditional university.” Convenient, but what these institutions have in common with MOOCs is baffling.

He bolsters his prediction with survey results: “Only 6% of prospective undergraduates surveyed last year [want] to stay at home and study. The other 94% expected and hoped to move away to a different place for their degrees.”

Whyte declares traditional universities the winner because “people want and expect something rather more than a purely virtual, entirely electronic experience of university. They expect it to be a place.”

Strong reassurance, indeed, for those who see MOOCs as “a horrible sort of inevitability.” Traditional universities have not only withstood the MOOC challenge but actually emerged stronger.  Continue reading

MOOC Sightings 001: UNC and Cornell

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Despite wholesale announcements by powerful academic leaders throughout the U.S. that MOOCs are dead, sightings continue to pour in from around the country and the rest of the world. For skeptics, the problem is physical evidence. People can offer them and take them, but no one seems to know what a MOOC looks like. Some point to Coursera and edX, but in the opinion of most MOOC experts, who are primarily from Canada and the UK, these are hoaxes.

So, in the interest of determining once and for all whether MOOCs are fo’ real, I’ll be opening Project White Book to publish promising sightings and photos of MOOCs. In this inaugural post, I’m sharing the photo, below, of what appears to be one person’s conception of a MOOC. I recently found it in the ETC spam queue. It was posted anonymously with the header “Da MOOC!” I’ll post photos as I receive them, so if you have one, email it to me (jamess@hawaii.edu) and I’ll publish the most interesting.

Is this a MOOC, a hoax, or just another weather-related phenomenon?

Is this a MOOC, a hoax, or just another weather-related phenomenon?

I’m also sharing promising sightings by Sarah Kaylan Butler, “50,000 Enroll in UNC Online Course” (Daily Tarheel, 2/19/15), and Blaine Friedlander, “Cornell Sinks Teeth into Four New MOOCs” (Cornell Chronicle, 2/19/15).

Butler reports that “almost 50,000 students have enrolled in a massive open online course on positive psychology taught by UNC professor Barbara Fredrickson.” Evidence that this Coursera-based course might be a real MOOC is very strong. It’s six weeks long, a departure from the usual quarter or semester time frame. It’s comfortably aimed at interest rather than college credit. According to Fredrickson, “Most people that are enrolled — 95 percent of them — say that they’re interested out of their own curiosity.” And the professor is on firm MOOC footing, looking for pedagogical guidance from the future rather than the past. She says, “I’ve written a couple of books for general audience and one of the things that’s clear about our changing audience is that people don’t necessarily want to read books, but they like ideas.”

Another promising sighting is from Cornell. Friedlander reports that “Cornell will offer four new [MOOCs] in 2016: shark biodiversity and conservation, the science and politics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), an introduction to engineering simulations, and how deals get done – mergers and acquisitions principles.” They’re still in the planning stages, so I’ll keep an eye out for more details as they become available.

Are MOOCs fo’ real? In this series, I’ll be looking at the evidence through a lens that’s forged from constructivist and disruptive theory as well as a dash of whimsy. In this process, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Please share them in the discussion below. If you’re logging in from an address that has been previously approved, your reply will be posted automatically. If not, your first reply will be published within 24-48 hours. Subsequent replies from your address will be published immediately.

Free Webinar: ‘Using Technology to Engage Students’ 2/23/15 3pm EST

From Macmillan Higher Education 2/17/15:

Join us on Monday, February 23rd at 3pm EST for a complimentary webinar on “Using Technology to Engage Students” with Solina Lindahl of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo!

The 21st century classroom is getting larger, more tech-laden and full of students weaned on digital devices. How should our teaching change (or NOT change) in light of this? This talk is aimed at showing how iPads, iClickers and more can engage the face-to-face large class. Included are a brief discussion of some of the more innovative (and easy) visual presentation apps, as well as a look at using iPads to do the most old-fashioned of practices: worked problems.

edtech week

To learn more about all of our EdTech Week sessions and our presenters, please visit our EdTech Week website. You can also join our event on Facebook for the latest updates and information! We hope to see you there!

Changing Face of Healthcare: The Role Mobile Apps Will Play in Medicine

frida-cooper 80By Frida Cooper

Judging by the sheer popularity of smartphones in modern times, it’s safe to say that this multi-faceted and dynamic invention may just be the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even better, if sales figures from smartphone manufacturers are anything to go by. The Smartphone’s utility isn’t restricted to the quintessential teenager texting all day or for showing the world what you had for lunch earlier that day. The advent of smartphones and their ability to connect to the veritable hoard of information that is the Internet has revolutionized life in general and pretty much every profession on the face of this world too.

The substantial healthcare industry here in the United States is most definitely one such example. The truth of the matter, though, is that the total impact of smartphones and mobile apps hasn’t even hit the industry yet, but that’s all about to change. Traditionally, the whole dynamic between healthcare professionals and the general population was that of blind faith. The knowledge and expertise of healthcare professionals wasn’t ever questioned, for better or for worse.

The origins

Things all began to change with the advent of the Internet in households across the USA. People started to conduct research on medical maladies that they were suffering from. They started to question the choice of medication, course of treatment taken, and potential side effects. These and many other things that would have been left to the professional’s judgment but a few years earlier were being challenged now that the patient was armed with information.

Where apps fit in

Whether this situation was and is good or bad is still up for debate, but this is where this revolution originated from. When smartphones came to the fore, this situation was taken up a few notches. A study conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013 pointed at over 40,000 healthcare-related apps available for download then in the iTunes App Store. Imagine how many more there are when taking platforms like Windows and Android into account. The sheer diversity of topics, too, covered under the healthcare ambit is staggering.  Continue reading

Secretary Duncan’s Discussion with Maryland Teachers to Be Streamed Live 9:50AM (ET) 2/18/15

Secretary Arne DuncanU.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will visit Maryland on Wednesday to highlight the progress that the state’s schools and students have made through the hard work and leadership of parents, teachers, principals, as well as local and state officials.

He will visit two schools and then end his day with a speech about the importance of local and school-level leadership in continuing efforts to improve education. In his speech, Duncan will talk about the need to support states’ efforts and expand investments, progress and opportunity for all children through reauthorizing a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Earlier in the day, Duncan and State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery will visit classrooms at Ducketts Lane Elementary School and meet with teachers from there and Thomas Viaduct Middle Schools to hear how teaching and learning is changing during the transition to higher standards and how that has contributed to schools’ and students’ success in Maryland. The discussion with teachers will be streamed live on the Howard County Public School System website, www.hcpss.org.   Continue reading

Mars One: 100 Still in Running to Be First Humans on Mars

Amersfoort, 16th February 2015From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. These candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. During the interviews the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of this life changing expedition.

Dr. Norbert Kraft said, “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection.”

There are 50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. The complete list of Mars One Round Three Candidates. Statistics on the candidates can be found here.

The following selection rounds will focus on composing teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars. The candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team. More information about the selection process can be found here: Mars One Selection ProcessContinue reading

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