Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Is the MOOC dead?

This was an attempt at a humorous response to a question posed by Paul Bacsich at the OEB conference in 2016, in the form of a Coroner's Court endeavouring to find out who killed the MOOC.

My lawyers have advised me to read a prepared statement in case I might incriminate myself in this case.

I have met The MOOC and this body certainly does look like him.  Although, when found, he was inelegantly dressed, he was elegantly thin and very attractive.  So attractive in fact that he was a bit of a trophy partner seen in the company of many rich benefactors.  And like such trophy partners he was very high maintenance and difficult to sustain.

He was often seen insisting on having his full entourage of instructional designers, subject matter experts, videographers, video editors and project managers. For many, the “high maintenance” was part of the attraction as they could display their trophy as a sign of their fitness. It was more about appearance than usefulness, like a peacock's tail, or some expensive jewellery .......or an iPhone...

He did generate a lot of ill-will and there certainly were many who had the motive kill him as he muscled in on their territory. Still, something like him does seem to be popping up in a lot of places.  Even if this corpse is not The MOOC perhaps his time is up anyway. Does it even matter if this is The MOOC?  We may have bigger things to fear yet.

The MOOC was known to be a little....... “promiscuous”.  I have heard that he was seen hanging around with some other educational innovations of dubious origins and also even flattering and exploiting some older, respectable, educational practices.  And there are rumours of progeny.  These rumours are rather scary.  The memes of The MOOC may have intermingled with other memes and led to mutants who may be emerging out there.

To be honest, it may be these progenies that killed The MOOC.  Some believe that interbreeding with Accreditation may have spawned the “Micro-Masters of the Universe” which may prove to be even more deadly in its impact.

It could get even worse.  The widespread availability of cheap technology may lead to swarms of OOCs, small open courses, cocky youngsters with no regard for the so-called “quality standards” of their elders.  Inspired by the legendary hero, Khan the Mighty, and his exploits in a closet where he was bound by no rules, some of these may rise through a Darwinian process of natural selection to become more popular than their expensive forerunners.

There are a few other dangerous ideas out there getting into the mix.  Open Badges for displaying detailed descriptions of achievements, Blockchain for reliable verification.  What if employers can reliably accept learning from anywhere for recruitment?  If The MOOC has interbred with such alternative credentials, it could lead to carnage.  It could threaten Educational Civilisation as we know it.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.

We may have killed the MOOC but we have more work to do.