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Inside the MOOC – An argumentation analysis of MOOC Implementation strategies

The rapid rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has hit the educational landscape with much impact causing heated debates, a renewed interest in educational technology and a considerable political activism. With the often cited headline “The Year of the MOOC” (Pappano, 2012), MOOCs have been portrayed as a much needed instrument to satisfy the growing demand for education. However, there have also a lot of amazement by distance education specialists (Daniel, 2012) and the general public, especially after reports revealed very high dropout rates (Liyanagunawardena, Parslow, & Williams, 2014). It seems that the MOOC hype has suddenly come to an end (Strauss, 2013) – or at least has cooled down.
Whereas opinion pieces have largely influenced the MOOC debate, scientific research is only beginning to keep up with the pace, focussing mostly on small, isolated studies and issue of success and failure from a learners' perspective (e.g. Breslow u. a., 2013). Yet, MOOCs are much more than video-based lectures from world class universities provided globally for free. They are a key representative for the ongoing transformation triggered by digital technologies.
Still, there is much to learn from the MOOC debate and a thorough analysis would disclose specific patterns and untangle complex arguments. In this regard, Kovanovic´ and collegues (2015) conducted a systematic analysis of news reports identifying changed perspectives.
Building on this recent research to grasp the way MOOCs are discussed, the paper suggests an argumentation analysis using major policy reports as its source. Drawing on European and US contexts, the analysis attempts to locate different positions, rhethoric figures and methaphors which shape the way MOOCs are perceived and handled.

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Inside the MOOC – An argumentation analysis of MOOC Implementation strategies

  1. 1. Inside the MOOC – An argumentation analysis of MOOC Implementation strategies Markus Deimann FernUniversität in Hagen
  2. 2. Science in Action vs Ready made science
  3. 3. Intro
  4. 4. –Sebastian Thrun, 2013 „We have a lousy product.“
  5. 5. MOOCs haven't lived up to the hopes and the hype, Stanford participants say. ! Stanford | News October 15, 2015
  6. 6. Why are MOOCs (still) so popular?
  7. 7. What arguments are used to support the implementation of MOOCs?
  8. 8. Reconstruction of arguments: • What are the preconditions of the argument? • What are the claims to backup the argument? • What are the relationships between arguments?
  9. 9. Mapping of arguments to provide a neutral overview
  10. 10. An exemplary account ! (far from exhaustive)
  11. 11. Material corpus • Policy reports from Higher Education bodies and stakeholders: • Conference of University Presidents (Germany) • League of European Research Universities • UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education • European University Association • Opening up Education (European Commission)
  12. 12. What are the premiss? • „EU education is failing to keep pace with the digital society and economy“ (EU, policy) • MOOCs provide opportunities for E-Learning advancements (HRK, technology) • „MOOCs are at the moment showing the potential to change the face of educational delivery because they emancipate it and invigorate it“ (LERU, pedagogy) • MOOCs are not the solution per se (UNESCO, institutional strategies)
  13. 13. Strategic positions Academic analysis • „What is taking place at the moment is that university leadership and industry are seeking possibilities to get involved in distance and e- learning, but without having yet a clearly defined idea of the economic or educative model to be followed.“ (EUA, 2013, p.11)
  14. 14. Institutional adoptions • What are the goals MOOCs can address at the institution? • Mission, Recruitment, Innovation, Pedagogy
  15. 15. Conclusions
  16. 16. Claims aligned to the position in the discourse • MOOCs are exploited to serve the agenda • EU: enhance the productivity of the workforce to compete with US. and Asian markets • Extension of claims to strengthen the position • MOOCs will improve the quality of E-Learning • not supported by empirical evidence
  17. 17. Conflicting positions • “(…) having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again. I feel like there’s a red pill and a blue pill, and you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom and lecture your 20 students. But I’ve taken the red pill, and I’ve seen Wonderland.” Sebastian Thrun ( large-courses-open-to-all-topple-campus-walls.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) • Lecture capture to free time for more interactions between teacher and student (but it is still massive)
  18. 18. New and better standards for MOOCs • MOOCs are not state of the pedagogic art • „The richness of MOOCs derives from their being essentially an Internet-based technology. To improve learning outcomes, governments and institutions should promote the use of the alternative pedagogical approaches enabled by MOOC technology.“ (COL Policy Brief 2015, p.5)
  19. 19. A better informed debate • what does educational theory and philosophy have to say about MOOCs? • merge isolated discourse (economy, technology, science)
  20. 20. Avoiding of „imaginary futures“ • Back to the roots thinking: No Hype, no revolution • Take it seriously: MOOCs have potential • continue and expand research
  21. 21. Thanks for listening! ! @mdeimann