Monday, January 5, 2015

2014... the year I juggled MOOCs

By Ramón Talavera Franco
I had an intense relationship with MOOCs in 2014. As all intense “relationships”, I loved them, hated them, invested a lot of time on them, or abandon them. MOOCs surprised me with new knowledge (i.e. gamification), or satisfied my pedagogical learning needs (i.e. EdTech and blended learning). I defended MOOCs against those who desperately wanted them to fail based on their high dropout rate, but also, I raised my voice against those MOOCs that experimented with students and neglected their needs.

Throughout 2014, I witnessed the evolution of MOOCs and I confirmed my thesis that MOOCs are just the beginning of an important revolution in e-learning. According to Shah D. (2014) 400+ universities offered over 2400+ MOOCs in 2014. At the beginning, all MOOCs were Massive and Open. At the end of the year, some evolved to be less massive, and less open.
Additionally, international competition amongst MOOC providers forced them to find a way to attract students. Certification seemed to be the clue. Here are 4 examples:

a) Udacity, in partnership with AT&T, offers Nanodegrees, a new type of credential accredited by Web Developers industry;

b) UniMOOC offers a certification accredited by Club Unesco after taking an “itinerary” built on modules taken from different courses.

c) Coursera offers specialization certificates after completing certain number of MOOCs and;

d) edx offers Xseries certificates after completing different courses in a subject area.

The importance of these new certification models is that MOOC providers are tailoring courses according to the needs of certain industries, such as software industry, to fill job vacancies. In a highly competitive world these new certifications can be the answer to gain new knowledge to move on or change professional goals.

MOOCs research and analysis also sparkled during 2014. More and more MOOC journals, books, blogs, and websites started to offer valuable information about the topic. I joined those efforts by sharing articles at MOOCLab, sharing discussions at Linkedin MOOC group, curating MOOC information using scoopit, writing my own blog about MOOCs and writing a case study for a MOOC Book Project that will be published in 2015… the cherry on the cake.

During 2014 I supplemented my Ed.D program with several MOOCs about EdTech. Here is the list:

MOOCs Completed (Certificate)
Name of the MOOC
University Affiliated
MOOC provider
K-12 Blended and Online Learning  
Kennesaw Sate University
Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom
UCI Extension
The ABC of Instructional Design

Blended Learning (Blendkit 2014)
University of Central Florida
Canvas Network

Gamification MOOC
Design and Development of Educational Technology

Introduction to Game Design

MOOCs completed (Audit)
University of Pennsylvania

MOOCs ongoing
Intro to JS: Drawing and Animation
Khan Academy

CS50x3 Introduction to Computer Science

Coding for Designer
Aquent Gymnasium

The last three courses in this list have not a time frame, therefore I can learn from them in a more relaxed way. In my case time is an important variable to be able to fulfill MOOC requirements. If MOOCs change their time frame to non-time frame at all then MOOCs could get back to be more “open”, and less closed in the sense of a rigid calendar that only works in a brick-and-mortar school.

2014 was an important year to build a relationship with MOOCs. Their fast evolution assures significant changes that we will witness during 2015. I’m sure that I will continue loving them and hating them but I doubt that we will come apart.

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