Slides from “The Revolution will be Televised” MOOCopalypse panel

March 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm 5 comments

The SIGCSE 2013 panel on “The Revolution will be Televised” on MOOCs and the impending MOOCopalypse was well attended and led to some great discussion. Our entire slide deck is available here.

My favorite part of the session was the response to my comments about access to MOOCs in Africa, i.e., that’s a motivating claim for many (“MOOCs provide learning opportunities to the developing world, like in Africa!”) while the reality is that there is very little access in Africa. We had two people in the audience then take the microphone and talk about their experiences in Tanzania and Sudan. The former department chair in Tanzania said that the MOOCs don’t contain the content yet that they need. The faculty member from Sudan said that only 50% of Sudan has access to the Internet. She said that the connected half doesn’t know that MOOCs exist.

My thanks to Mehran Sahami for organizing the panel, and to my fellow panelists Nick Parlante (eternal optimist about MOOCs) and Fred Martin (hero to the rebel forces battling the MOOCopalypse, for pushing his vision of MOOCs for flipped classrooms) for an engaging session!

Audience at MOOC panel

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis J Frailey  |  March 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    My experience is very much like the Stanford experience, as reported by professors Parlante and Sahami. This includes having started via microwave in the 1960’s. Having taught in this fashion for over 40 years, I would divide students into four groups:
    1) students who need and use the Artisanal approach (quite a few, but definitely not all who currently have only that option);
    2) students who need the Artisanal approach but for whatever reason choose to use MOOCs or other distance education media (an increasingly large number as MOOCS tend to proliferate);
    3) students who can benefit greatly from the MOOC approach (there are quite a few of these, although many don’t have access to that option);
    4) a large number of students who will not benefit from any of these approaches.

    It is group #3 that is well served by MOOCS. Those who castigate MOOCS tend to be talking about students in the other groups. In short, MOOCS can play a valuable role in making education more widely available, but they are not likely to totally replace other approaches.

  • 2. Fred Martin (@fgmart)  |  March 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    I’m worried about the #2 group — students who aren’t served by MOOCs — and the apparent serious intent to: defund #1 artisanal teaching, replace with MOOCs, and declare that there’s no problem here.

  • 3. Dennis J Frailey  |  March 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I concur. The #2 group is potentially a victim here. MOOCS are a cost-effective way to extend education to a currently under-served community. In their current state of development they should not be viewed as a way to lower cost across the board. Unfortunately, we tend to want more from our taxes than we are willing to pay for (whether it be education, medical care, border patrol, or transportation infrastructure) and this always tends to push us toward the cheap way out. Perhaps we can fight back by being innovative with the latest technologies. If we stubbornly insist on preserving methods that, while tried and true, are labor intensive and increasingly less affordable, we will be fighting a losing battle.

  • 4. Diana Laurillard  |  April 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

    MOOC attendees currently seem to be #3, and not students at all but professionals, often with several degrees. See Duke MOOC, for example, and excellent report. The basic MOOC approach is great for professional CPD, where participants really do help each other and give great value, but for the undergraduate population we need ways of nurturing and developing individuals’ minds, and peer-to-peer is not sufficient.
    But I agree with Dennis that the trick we have to turn now, is to figure out those pedagogies that can provide good support at scale,
    Does anyone remember the Keller Plan? An online version of that is one method worth developing.


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