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 (email@example.com) and I’ll publish the most interesting.
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.