MOOCs and Conventional Universities: Critical Issues


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Delivered as part of Mind to MOOCs seminar hosted by the Open University of China, Beijing (20.10.2013)

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MOOCs and Conventional Universities: Critical Issues

  1. 1. MOOCS AND CONVENTIONAL UNIVERSITIES: ISSUES Dr. Alan Bruce Vice-President EDEN Seminar: Mind to MOOCS Open University of China Beijing, 20 October 2013
  2. 2. Tracing the path • MOOCs: symptom not cause of major re-appraisal of role of the University in the 21st century • Issues pre-date MOOCs • Reform of structure, governance, ownership and transparency increasingly important • National priorities in a competitive and globalized world • Internationalized imperatives and comparative pressures • Authority, credibility and authenticity in a disrupted socio-economic universe • Neutrality and objectivity versus vested interest • Quality, reliability and standards in the storm of technological transformation
  3. 3. Addressing needs: role of the University • Offering a highly valued learning environment for personal growth in a time of radical change. • Relevance in a technologically connected and evolving world • Fostering critical thinking and the formation of values • Providing imaginative alternatives in a time of crisis • Facilitating access to diverse and non-traditional learners • Maintaining independence and objectivity in research priorities • Providing valued learning outcomes for a vastly altered student population • Moving beyond Western models of assumed timeless excellence
  4. 4. Facts that dare not speak their name • Cost reduction • Revenue generation • Value for money • Branding • Commodification of knowledge • Privatization and ownership of materials • Business Model of Higher Education • Generalized crisis in K-12 schooling systems, conditions and learning outcomes in most countries • HEI pre-existing resistance to technological innovation
  5. 5. Trending themes • Issues on commercialization and corporate interest in HE pre-date MOOCs • Heated debate reflects a more general uncertainty about the traditional role of HEIs in the era of MNCs and globalization • MOOCs are not an isolated issue – connect also to society, economy, CPD environment, training • Current university issues: responding not ignoring MOOCs, sustainability, pedagogy, credit, capacity • Impact on lifelong systems and structures • Impact of disruption in labor market outcomes • Anglo-centric core: imperial control or true internationalism? • Innovation may occur in the periphery – geographic and social
  6. 6. Summary • Relevance beyond mere cost • MOOCs reflect a more fundamental restructuring in global learning systems • Traditional universities are undergoing profound change and MOOCs reflect aspects of that change • Responding to fundamental sociological and economic transformations • Who owns knowledge? Knowledge as a tradable commodity. • Who owns wisdom?
  7. 7. Thank you Dr. Alan Bruce: Vice President EDEN European Distance and E-learning Network