There is a lot of buzz around the MOOC initiative (Massive Open Online Courses). Internet is a marvellous invention and of course, should be used in education. However, creating a really useful resource is a huge undertaking, just filming lectures is not enough. It is a good start, but is not enough. At Sound Mathematics we are trying to develop a multi-faceted resource, with good quality teaching materials based on classroom experience and a quality Cognitive Tutor e-PACT to help students to practice the newly acquired skills “under expert supervision”. This will never substitute a teacher but can certainly automate some of his/her most repetitious tasks. This is the only reason we charge for teacher resources – to raise funding to pay good software engineers to develop e-PACT.
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It is the people who have cooballratively put this MOOC together and those who are willing to volunteer, like yourself, to help and stimulate others to increase their digital literacy and skills during their participation in this MOOC who will make this the success I am sure it is going to be.
My concerns with moocs stem from the silaaintbusity aspect. While MIT’s OCW program brought in great numbers it fell short in terms of it’s access limitations. By that I mean that in the MIT model you were not privy to all content and resources but rather an overview version. I believe that in that model it was an instructor driven prospect where the professor in question doled out what was available at his or her discretion. On the question of moocs, where does that leave teachers who have spent years developing their courses and strategies? Are they being payed extra by their parent institutions for this (it is their course design)? Where is that money coming from? In fact, where is any of this money that will be required to make this happen over the long haul coming from? What promises were made to investors? Advertising revenue? This is all opaque at the moment and the danger lies in the touting of societal goodwill for the generation of capital regardless of how it comes about.I do believe this to be a genuinely philanthropic innovation but at the end of the day everything costs something and I have a hard time believing that established HE will be able to undercut themselves for long.
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If there are millions of peploe doing courses that use to be offered to only a few hundred how is that going to help overall demand for these skills? I work within a profession which had 100% employment rate when I finished university. Since completing my degree I have seen all universities within my country increase class numbers. Now every year I see peploe who have spent three years of their lives studying a specific course unable to get their first professional job. Whilst I am lucky to be employable in the area I have studied I have experienced first hand how non transferable my skills are to other sectors of the labour market. I’m deeply skeptical of the wider social good purported by Coursera’s providers. Why would you want the poor and isolated peploe within our communities being taught law, computer science, economics only for them to be unable to get a job due to excess supply of graduates. To have few opportunities in life is one thing but to be offered an opportunity only for it to amount to nothing is truely heart breaking. With the introduction of MOOC it is worth pondering whether a high school graduate may be better off to become a butcher, baker or candle stick maker. I think MOOC is going to further increase the educational attainment necessary for the most basic of jobs.
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Thanks Penny, it does help a lot. I will look in to doing them separately after I’ve fnehsiid the face-to-face version I’m doing. I had thought of doing them as extras and planned to look into that possibility so you’ve saved me the trouble of searching.Thanks to you and all the volunteers involved in the MOOC. I’ve dipped my toes into Level 1 in the last couple of days and already learnt heaps. I don’t have a background in education so all of this is new and fascinating to me.Thanks again,Rebekah
Thanks Liz .you know I’m finding that every new thing I take on, whheter it be as a learner or mentor, I’m learning so much from other educators.This collaborative, social way of connecting and networking online is so productive I’m truly amazed sometimes. Getting online and using social media has been the best thing I have ever done for my professional development as an educator.Hope to see you around during the MOOC Liz