Al-Jazeera: Is the developing world MOOC’d out?

Hannah Gais offers insights on the shortcomings of MOOCs from the developing world’s perspective.  Chief among them, (1) lack of accessibility and (2) their anti-democratic nature.

On the one hand, the article notes that a large percentage of many MOOCs are from students in the developing world.  But, it clarifies, that access to MOOCs are still limited to people with broadband for video – still a difficulty in much of the world.

Additionally, MOOCs are criticized for being a high-tech sage-on-a-stage.  MOOCs present rather than engage, talk to rather than with, and elevate the already-elite schools rather than partner with the rest of the world.

MOOCs, some argue, are focused on only expanding access, not fostering cross-cultural understanding or improving local educational institutions.

“In an era when higher education is making significant advances in becoming global and helping to build educational capacity within developing nations, MOOC’s play the center against the periphery,” noted Jason Lane and Kevin Kinser in a 2012 paper. “They strengthen the ivory towers by enabling a few elite institutions to broadcast their star courses to the masses from the comfort of their protected perches.”

Progress in these includes new projects in China and Rwanda and elsewhere, the article notes, concluding with the now familiar caveat that MOOCs are still in the early stages of development with uncertain paths ahead.   Worth the read here: 


What’s up with MOOCs?

Online learning at American University and elsewhere tries to replicate the small-class experience of classroom-based courses: intense student-faculty interaction, student-to-student learning, and a community for discussion.  But in other places, the focus in the last couple of years has been on MOOCs – massive open online courses:  thousands of students, open admissions, no tuition, and no academic credit.  Here’s some recent MOOC news.

Study Finds MOOC Reality Not Yet Meeting High Expectations

Columbia University researchers conclude that from the educational and the business perspectives, MOOCs stll have a long way to go before they are fundamentally change the cores of higher education.  A summary and the entire report.

Another report concluded that so far MOOCs are “more like health clubs than hospitals” – a summary and the report.

In Defense of Teacher Learning

A blog from the global business school INSEAD notes the importance, but lack of discussion, of instructors reconsidering their courses when preparing them as MOOCs.  The new platform forces teachers to reconsider content choices, assignments, and assessments in ways that spill over into reconsidering their classroom-based courses.

Andrew Ng joins China’s Baidu

A Coursera co-founder, with roots at Google and Stanford will become chief scientist at Baidu, the Chinese Internet company with $1.5 in 2014 Q1 revenue.

MOOCs Go Global

From Jordan, Queen Raina’s Foundation for Education and Development will work to increase the number of Arabic MOOCs available for the benefit of Arabic students and scholars with a partnership with edX, called Edraak.  MOOCs are also being offered from Asia and elsewhere.

MOOCs – Not Just for Universities

Forbes notes that while MOOCs pose challenges and opportunities for universities, businesses like SAP and Sky News are also using the ideas that shape MOOCs for their own business purposes.

MOOCs on Everything – Including, Now, SABRmetrics

“An introduction to sabrmetrics, baseball analytics, data science, the R language, and SQL.”  From Boston University via edX.  Begins next week….