The mood for MOOCs | 2013 spring EAIE Forum member magazine


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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a hot spot for international education at the moment, getting quite a lot of attention – in some cases even nervous attention – from a variety of stakeholders. Where did they come from and what exactly is all the fuss about? This is an extract from the 2013 spring issue of European Association for International Education's member magazine, EAIE Forum Become an EAIE member to access top-notch resources on a wide range of internationalisation topics.

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The mood for MOOCs | 2013 spring EAIE Forum member magazine

  1. 1. technologyMOOCs: the good, the bad and the futureVirtual mobility for international work placementsE-education and the disappearing human factorYour guide to Strategic Enrolment Managementspring2013Discussing international education
  2. 2. Published byEuropean Association for International EducationPO Box 11189, 1001 GD Amsterdam, The Netherlandstel +31-20-344 51 00, fax +31-20-344 51 19e-mail, www.eaie.orgEditor Michael CooperPublications Committee Michael Cooper (Chair),Jill Archer, Mary Bishop, Ole Faaborg, Linda Johnson,Frank WittmannMarketing & Communications Manager Elise KuurstraGraphic Designer Nhu NguyenPublications Coordinator Sarah Fencotte-mail publications@eaie.orgAdvertisingContact for more information.The EAIE welcomes requests for advertising space fromcompanies and organisations whose aims and valuesare compatible with those of the Association and itsmembers. Acceptance of advertising does not implyendorsement by the EAIE.Printed by Drukkerij Raddraaier, AmsterdamCopyright © 2013 by the EAIEAll rights reserved. Extracts from Forum may bereproduced with permission of the Editor. Unless statedotherwise, opinions expressed by contributors do notnecessarily reflect the position of the EAIE.ISSN 1389-0808Cover michaeljung (shutterstock)Contents04 Editorial07 Hot off the press Your guide to the latest publications08 Technological timeline Developments impacting higher educationover the years10 Online and distance education Europe is catching on12 The mood for MOOCs An insight into the growing phenomenon16 The future of global higher education Where is online learning heading?19 Virtual mobility A flexible approach22 Return of the e-university An interview with Paul Bacsich26 who’s in (quality) control? A greater focus required28 Open educational resources A Nordic perspective32 The human factor Is pure e-education the future?36 Technology opens doors A level playing field for students with disabilities38 Strategic goal attainment A new model for measurement40 Strategic Enrolment Management A framework for institutional change42 Turkish higher education Preparing for EAIE Istanbul 201346 Perspectives A senior lecturer’s views on social media47 Calendar Upcoming events in the field
  3. 3. 12“MOOCsmakeuniversityleadersnervous”Anna Colombini32“Unlesstheinnertechnologyofthehumanbrainchanges,puree-learningwillnotservestudents”Michael Bourke22“Themodelofuniversityasweknowitisnotingoodshape”In conversation with Paul Bacsich40“Institutions aremorereliantthaneveronthenumberofstudentstheyenrol”bob bontrager03forumspring 2013
  4. 4. ThemoodforMOOCsPhoto: file404 (shutterstock)12 forumSpring 2013
  5. 5. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a hot spot for internationaleducation at the moment, getting quite a lot of attention – in some caseseven nervous attention – from a variety of stakeholders. Where did theycome from and what exactly is all the fuss about?Let’s start with some definitions: a MOOC isa free-of-charge class taught via the web to alarge number of learners – where large meansreally large: hundreds or thousand of students – witha minimum number of instructors. MOOCs arecurrently being offered by companies in collaborationwith renowned universities and individual scholars.In a short period of time, some of these courseshave attracted tens of thousands of learners around theglobe: some of the providers claim to have millions ofregistered learners. Registration is quite easy: all youneed is an internet connection, a mobile device andan e-mail address and you can browse a catalogue ofcourses offered by the world’s top universities.Where did it all start?George Siemens, a Canadian professor and researcher,led an open online course in 2008 for 25 paying stu-dents at the University of Manitoba. The same coursewas offered for free to an extra 2300. The course wasreported as a landmark in the small but growing pushtowards open teaching. In 2011, Stanford Universityopened up a course on Artificial Intelligence to100 000 students from over 200 countries. Later on,this type of course became known as a MOOC.The main providers of MOOCs today includeCoursera, founded by professors from Stanford Uni-versity, defined as ‘a social entrepreneurship companythat partners with the top universities in the worldto offer courses online for anyone to take, for free’.Following in its footsteps is edX, ‘a not-for-profitenterprise of its founding partners Harvard Universityand the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thatfeatures learning designed specifically for interactivestudy via the web’. Another key actor is Udacity, bornout of the Stanford University experiment with thehundred-thousand classroom on Artificial Intelli-gence, and Khan Academy, a not-for-profit organisa-tion with the goal of ‘changing education for the betterby providing a free world-class education for anyoneanywhere’. And more are coming: just type ‘MOOC’into Google, and one of the top results is ‘MOOCList’, a site with a complete list of MOOCs offered bythe best universities and entities.Technological tsunamiThese developments are all loosely linked to thetechnological tsunami we are living in, characterisedby the use of digital, personalised technology, and bythe attitude that goes with it – the habit of accessinginformation anytime, anywhere. The higher educationstudents of today grew up with a technology mindset,and they are 24/7 consumers. MOOCs are built onthese new technologies and related behaviours whichhave emerged over the last few years. Some expertspredict that in the next few years hundreds of millionsof students in India, China, and Africa will accesslow-cost education thanks to low‐cost mobile learningtechnology. All this cannot but raise questions aboutthe future of teaching, the value of a degree, and theeffect technology will have on how higher educationinstitutions operate.Differing viewpointsInternational organisations dealing with highereducation are watching the phenomenon with atten-tion: the European University Association (EUA)reports on its website a recent discussion on MOOCsand their potential impact.1The results of a recentThe higher education students of today grew up with a technology mindset, they are 24/7 consumersAnna Colombini Ca’ Foscari University, Italy13forumspring 2013
  6. 6. OutstandingachievementsdeserverecognitionPut your peers in the spotlight.Nominate them for the EAIE Awards by 3
  7. 7. questionnaire sent to EUA membershighlighted that while approximatelytwo-thirds of the respondents had heardabout MOOCs, only one-third couldconfirm that MOOCs had already beenan issue of discussion in their institution.The Council members expressed a generalconsensus that “the MOOCs should beclosely monitored, but also that beyond thepresent excitement, it would be importantto analyse innovative learning provisiontrends, and also consider implications forinstitutional recognition practice and defi-nition of degrees”. The EUA announcedthat a task force will be established to lookat these issues.On a different note, UNESCO recentlyconcluded the ‘Mobile Learning Week’(18–22 February 2013) and the commentswere that: “The outlook for mobile learn-ing is promising. Mobile devices such astablets, mobile phones and e-readers arebeing used by increasing numbers of peo-ple”. Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s AssistantDirector-General for Communication andInformation told forum attendees, “Wecannot continue to pretend that we livein the pre-digital era, and to do so risksplunging schools into irrelevance. We livein a world where many, if not most youngpeople carry a powerful, easy mobilecomputer in their pockets. The questionis not whether schools and school systemswill engage with these mobile technologiesbut when they will and how they will.”2New competitionMOOCs make university leaders nervous:they worry about having to compete withfree courses from some of the world’s mostexclusive universities. Institutions whicharen’t on board yet are afraid of missinga momentous occasion, of being old-fashioned, not in line with the digital era.Some of them are rushing in: in the monthof February 2013, Coursera proudly an-nounced that 29 new universities joinedin, almost doubling the number of schoolsoffering courses on their platform. For thefirst time, courses across many topics willbe offered in languages like French, Span-ish, Chinese and Italian.ScepticsMedia are giving great attention to thephenomenon, announcing a major revolu-tion in teaching and learning systems. Butthere are many sceptics, and for a numberof reasons. First of all, many issues relatedto MOOCs still need to be dealt with, forexample, the possibility of awarding creditsfor MOOCs. In addition, completionrates are very low; assessment, grading andcheating are all challenges that have yet tobe met.In an article published by The Chronicleof Higher Education, in February 2013,author Nigel Thrift, Vice-chancellor ofthe University of Warwick, UK, analysedsome reasons for the current ‘obsession’with MOOCs, among which he listedmiddle-class anger over tuition costs andthe search for ways of reducing higher-education spending, and of teaching morepeople more efficiently. He concluded withthe advice to calm down, predicting that– as much academic research on informa-tion technology has shown – MOOCs willchange some things and not others.Nonetheless, Warwick Univer-sity decided to join in “because we thinkMOOCs can become another generallybenign way that universities can extendtheir influence and general visibility whilerealising some of the benefits of universityeducation for those who might not other-wise receive it”.3The jury is still out on MOOCs, butwhatever the verdict, MOOCs are pro-vocative for higher education as they askfor flexibility and alternative models ofdelivering education. We still don’t nowhow much they will change the educa-tional landscape but we must all get readyto face new challenges.1. To MOOC or not to MOOc. (13 February, 2013).Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education make university leaders nervousthe completion rates are very low; assessment, gradingand cheating are all challenges that have yet to be met15forumspring 2013