MOOCs are one of the hot topics in e-learning and Higher Education at the moment. The number of institutions designing their own MOOCs is growing exponentially and, thus, collective, academic reflection upon this new meme is required to guarantee we understand each other and we agree on some key issues concerning MOOCs.
The following manifesto is our contribution to that discussion. To see a Spanish version of this manifesto, please visit EducaconTIC.
- In every teaching design, the learner is the centre. The same happens with MOOCs.
- Taking into consideration the community of practice and the learning community the MOOC is aimed at is helpful for the MOOC design and for the MOOC institution itself. For instance, the digital competence of the learning community is one of the basic premises for the design of a MOOC.
- There is no “standard” MOOC as there is no “standard” classroom o “standard” learning situation. MOOCs, as any other learning situation, are defined in design and action.
- MOOCs must be an element within the digital strategy of an institution. MOOCs by themselves do not constitute a strategy.
- Institutions may consider MOOCs basically as a branding instrument, although this reductionist approach which simplifies MOOC potential will only resist for a limited period of time. After that, MOOCs will only be relevant within a global institutional strategy linked to the commons and open knowledge.
- The distinction between xMOOC and cMOOC is important for analysis and reflection. However, in fact it may be a question of connectivist scale. In certain institutions the move from MOOCs based on contents to task-based to connectivist MOOCs may be related to the different levels of digital competence of the learning community the institution must cater for.
- Many educational institutions are geographically based; however, MOOCs are global: institutions must consider the global potential of MOOCs as an opportunity and as a possible threat.
- Institutions may need to consider the prerequisites to enter a MOOC. However, institutions must consider too that preventing people from entering a MOOC may mean neglecting potential learning situations.
- Open does not mean free. But it may. Considering the economical aspects of a MOOC is crucial for its sustainability.
- MOOCs may be courses, or not. They certainly are learning experiences. MOOLE (Massive, Open, On-line Learning Experiences) would be a better acronym.
- MOOCs can be an individualistic experience, a group experience or a cooperative experience. As in any other educational setting, cooperative learning is much more satisfactory than any other learning structure.
- Group formation is as important in MOOCs as in any other learning experience and different forms of group structures and group tasks can be used at different moments in MOOCs.
- Strong and weak social ties can contribute to deeper learning. Promoting socialization and networking across the MOOC enhances learning opportunities.
- A MOOC is an opportunity for experimentation in curricular design. Designing a MOOC represents institutional learning-by-doing.
- MOOCs are disruptive. Once an institution designs one, the whole list of courses of that institution is under question.
- MOOCs question the conventional knowledge distribution in learning experiences. Multiple voices, belonging to MOOC designers, MOOC participants or occasional visitors, may co-occur from different levels of expertise and with different levels of implication.
- MOOCs may follow a “learning route”, that is, a sequence of contents, tasks and tests. But they may also be a landscape to visit orderly or disorderly, randomly or purposely, alone or with other people, with or without guidance, for merely reading or watching or with action in mind.
- The key for a MOOC is not which learning platform to use. That issue is basically relevant for the institution organizing the MOOC, but it is not a central topic for the learner nor should it be for the designer.
- MOOCs open the debate but the debate takes place wherever participants decide, not where the designers may have established. Anyway, the more conversation, the better.
- MOOC belongs to the macro-strategy. Content-curation and dynamization are the micro-strategy.
- “Dynamization is the process of transforming a static data structure into a dynamic one.” (Wikipedia) That is the key to make MOOCs a social learning experience. Content curation is the way to provide access to relevant information to a large number of participants in a chaotic learning setting.
- MOOCs take place on-line. That does not imply there may not be face-to-face, local learning encounters in parallel to the on-line learning experience.
- Certificates are important for the educational (and labour) market. Certificates are not so important for learning and people interested in learning. MOOCs may cater for both needs.
Comments are welcome!Reflexiones
Thank you for your pingback and the mention to Stephen Downes’ post, which we hadn’t read and which we appreciate as an important reference for our own reflection. The intention of our manifesto is to promote the debate about MOOCs and, consequently, we are satisfied, even if you dislike your approach.
However, we cannot agree with your statement. We do not think the manifesto “contradicts just about everything that MOOCs are” basically because, if there is one single feature to characterise MOOCs, that is diversity. We strongly belive there is no “standard” MOOC, even though we also agree with Stephen Downes that the approach of cMOOCs is much more satisfactory than MOOCs based on contents and tasks. But to neglect their existence, and their institutional relevance or even, as we argue, their potential for certain types of learners, is to leave aside an important fraction of on-line learning. Sorry, we do not want to do that.