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Coursera under fire in MOOCs licensing row
By Megan Clement, The Conversation
A prominent member of the open education movement, former Open University Vice-Chancellor Sir John Daniel, has criticised online education provider Coursera for not making its materials available under creative commons licensing.
Coursera is one of the largest providers of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – which allow students to take university courses for free online from anywhere in the world.
MOOCs have been credited with democratising higher education, making it available for those who cannot afford to attend prestigious universities. But providers like Coursera have come under fire in recent months for undermining academic jobs, not providing adequate accreditation, and, in this latest controversy, not adhering closely enough to the “open” part of the MOOC acronym. Read more…
Report from the UUK May 2013 event: Open and online learning: Making the most of Moocs and other models.
This Universities UK event was aimed at senior staff in Higher Education (VCs, Pro-VCs, Registrars, Deans, Directors & the like). The delegates were mixed. I’d say around 50 UK HEIs were represented, by some of the above, but also a decent number of learning technology folk. The presenters included 4 VCs & the Universities Minister, David Willetts.
1) A significant moment?
The UUK published MOOCs: Higher education’s digital moment? to coincide with the event and several of the speakers referred to the 2012 growth of MOOCs as a Napster moment or Amazon moment for HE (ie game-changing). This comes hot-on-the-heels of the IPPR / Pearson report An avalanche is coming: Higher education and the revolution ahead which talks of ‘disruption’ & the ‘unbundling’ of HE. It’s sensible to question the motives behind some of the rhetoric, but at the event, there seemed to be acceptance that significant change is underway.
2) To MOOC or not to MOOC… that is not the question
I think the day’s central question was not whether to MOOC, but how to respond to MOOCs & the changes they may bring. What’s your institution’s strategy going to be to deal with the changes ahead?
- Will you look to optimise the campus experience by embracing digital & increasing quality contact time (Don Nutbeam, VC, University of Southampton)?
- Will you develop a broad portfolio of on-campus/off-campus/no-campus offerings (Jeff Hayward, VP Knowledge Management & CIO, University of Edinburgh)?
- And of course, will you offer MOOCs? If yes, then is ‘which courses?’ a strategic decision or whoever fancies it?
3) Reasons to MOOC
Martin Bean (VC, Open University) suggested a number of reasons an institution might want to engage with MOOCs:
- Profile raising
- Student recruitment
- Expanding impact
- Stimulating innovation (see 4)
The University of Edinburgh, the only HEI to have already delivered a MOOC on one of the big US platforms describe their objectives as: gaining outreach to new audiences; experimentation with online delivery methods at large scale; reinforcing our position as a leader in the use of educational technology in HE. More on this & lots of statistics in their report published earlier this week: MOOCs @ Edinburgh 2013: Report #1
4) Teaching Innovation
While there has been wide criticism of the pedagogical quality of the new MOOCs, Wendy Purcell (VC, Plymouth University) suggested that digital developments are putting teaching upfront & central. She sees an opportunity for a positive repositioning of the value of teaching and development of new pedagogies. Sian Bayne (Associate Dean, University of Edinburgh), the only speaker to have taught a MOOC, commented that her Edinburgh Digital Cultures MOOC had offered a space for pedagogical innovation and that teaching it was invigorating.
The world of MOOCs is full of partners. Universities are partnering with delivery & marketing platforms such as Coursera & Udacity. Companies such as Pearson are partnering with them to proctor in-person exams (eg find a test centre for your edX MOOC). The sponsors of the UUK event were Academic Partnerships & 2U. Slightly different services, but both working with universities to develop & deliver online courses. David Willetts hopes that MOOC & industry partnerships will develop & potentially help with the UK skills gap (such as computer science).
6) Future (Learn)
Futurelearn is the under-development UK MOOC platform owned by the OU. It includes 20 university partners as well as the British Library, the British Council and the British Museum.
I was really looking forward to hearing more about Futurelearn with both Martin Bean & the launch CEO, Simon Nelson speaking. We didn’t learn much. Despite their claim that ‘this is not simply re-purposing existing content’ we heard little about building on the OU’s experience of learner support or delivering ‘teacher presence’; a challenge that speakers from Edinburgh & 2U had highlighted. Nor did we learn anything about the new platform. However, Stephen Jackson from QAA, did appear to confirm that FutureLearn will offer proctored exams.
7) Future (Unknown)
Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun has predicted that within 10-years job applicants will be touting Udacity degrees. Emma Leech (Director of Marketing & Recruitment, University of Nottingham) reminded us that Thrun’s claims go further; he has suggested that in 50 years there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them.
Update 20/05/13 – Thrun under-estimated: Georgia Tech, Udacity and AT&T launch online CompSci Masters aiming for 10,000 students in 3-years
Crystal balls aside, it’s an exciting & challenging time ahead with new players, new partnerships & business models starting to emerge. One thing is clear, whether it’s MOOCs or enhancing campus courses, learning technologies & technologists have a central role to play.
Update 20/05/13 – Presenters’ slides availble on UUK website
MOOCs are moving into the mainstream and I’m signing up again
If you’ve not heard of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) then take a look at What you need to know about MOOCs
I signed up for the change11 MOOC last year but got no further than creating the blog to record my progress (the equivalent of buying a new notebook I guess). I forget why I never gave it a real go but it was definitely down to my other preoccupations rather than being anything to do with the course itself.
The Rights’ Future is a new ‘book’ being published online in weekly installments via a blog & YouTube by LSE’s Conor Gearty.
I’m currently advising Conor Gearty, a Professor of Human Rights at the LSE on his use of social media for The Rights’ Future project. Conor is writing a ‘book’; except it’s not a book, it’s a website, but Conor is writing a website just doesn’t sound quite right.
It’s an online publication which will unfold over the coming weeks with the final version being launched at LSE’s Literary Festival in February 2011. Each Monday Conor will post a new essay with a webcam-recorded introduction via YouTube. Then, on Fridays, Conor will expand the original essay incorporating any comments/feedback received on the blog.
The recent M25 Learning Technology Group meeting focussed on Open Educational Resources (OERs). Despite my somewhat limited knowledge of this topic it fell to me, as the meeting’s organiser, to provide an intro. So here it is once again if you missed it. OERs are teaching & learning materials available for reuse without charge. They are one element of a much wider Open Education movement (not sure that’s quite the right word but it’ll do). While reading about OERs I came across an interesting video lecture Openness, Aggregation and the Future of Education (50-mins) by David Wiley that’s worth a look.
In my introduction I gave examples of 4 different OER-related areas as well as highlighting some upcoming OER conferences & UK projects: Read more…
Yesterday Steve Wheeler raised a two fingered salute to open another chapter in the ongoing VLE-PLE debate (see VLE vs PLE fight club for an earlier installment). It’s an excellent post but I’m not wholly convinced.
Firstly, some points that Steve and I probably agree upon:
- Personal Webs have an important & central role in the future of technology enhanced learning
- Wherever appropriate teachers should be given freedom to teach with the web technologies of their choosing
- Students should also be encouraged to use the web technologies of their own choosing to support their learning
- More focus is needed on the teaching activities and not the tools that enable them
However, unlike Steve, I believe that VLEs (institutionally managed webs for teaching & learning) are here to stay and have an important role in the future:
- Not all teachers are tech-savvy ‘edupunks’. Many are not interested in developing and teaching with their own personal webs. Some would need considerable support to do so. This will undoubtedly change over time but for a good while to come many teachers want to be provided with a single, simple, managed & supported platform. Read more…