In our last class we discussed MOOCs and some of the possible future directions they might take.  I bumped into a blurb in Inside Higher Ed about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking proposals for MOOCs “designed to serve as remedial and other general education courses.”  Following is the blurb:

Gates Seeks Development of Remedial Ed MOOCs
September 11, 2012 – 3:00am

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today announced it was seeking proposals for the creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) designed to serve as remedial and other general education courses, which are often stumbling blocks for lower income students. The foundation said in its request for proposals that it hopes to encourage high-quality MOOCs that could help improve college completion rates. Currently, most MOOCs are geared to upper-division classes. “Ultimately, our vision is that MOOCs may provide institutions a way to blend MOOC content into formal courses with more intensive faculty, advising and peer support and also provide students an alternative and direct path to credit and credentials,” the foundation said.

5 Responses to MOOCs

  1. Amanda Licastro September 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    There have been so many articles and posts about MOOCs this week my head is spinning. It seems like there are a lot of people who feel the same way, consider this just came across my Twitter feed: @jryoung Having trouble keeping track of all the news about #MOOCs? See @chronicle’s updated timeline:

  2. Dale Katherine Ireland September 19, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Amanda, thank you for the useful resource! The MOOCs conversations continue this week. The following source was posted on the WPA listserv:

  3. Anderson Evans September 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    I can’t seem to stop thinking about the MOOCs. On one hand I think they illustrate a possible slippery slope that could possibly be damaging to some vital areas of academia, on the other hand I think they can offer a lot of possibility to learn things we might not be able to, or might not even want to learn from within the classic academy.

    I read this book on using computer games to teach children that came out of MIT, I’ll update this blog post later when I’m at home with the author and the book’s title. But it talked about how in the 90s somebody came up with the idea for making these CD-ROMs that could teach kids math, science, etc etc. Turns out kids didn’t care, and didn’t learn jack squat. They were just interested in the animations and any kind of misinterpretation of the digital environment that could be called phantasmagoric, bloody, or “gross” (this was especially true of human body “edutainment”). However, games that had cognitive skillset requirements built into the systems of play (the one really focused on was SimCity) were able to inspire collaboration and logical, rational thinking among young players.

    I think this is worth considering when looking at the whole “MOOC” thing. Trying to use the MOOC to teach anything that DOESN’T have something to do with the inherent uses of computers is going to be a sub-par offering. Why go so far as to replace the physical classroom with a digital one if you are having a discussion of literature or philosophy, right? (Assuming everything in this world isn’t about making money) I’ve taken online courses that have attempted to do this, they weren’t free and they still made me all KINDS of uncomfortable. Who ARE these people reading my feelings on Saul Bellow? The things about Sartre that make me uncomfortable? Not enough people are going to complete these types of courses on a mass scale if they are as challenging as they should be required to be, because the communication will just be too damn uncomfortable.

    On the OTHER hand, why do I want to be in some huge room of computers with some proctor walking around if I’m trying to improve my Photoshop skills or I’m trying to learn Flash? If I want certification in PHP? If I want to learn some HTML5 recipes? This is what the development of MOOCs could be great for, because God Knows I get so sick of getting lost on google clicking hyperlink after hyperlink being led into forums with people that for the most part just get a kick out of mocking “NOOBS” with significant questions, and for those that go out of their way to help those newbies in need, why not put them in a network that can offer them a credential?

    Just talking off cuff here, I’m a little late to this conversation. You guys are all probably so over MOOCs right now, those things were so last week it isn’t even funny. Now everybody’s all talking about GURPS and YOLOS. Slow day at work, please ignore this last paragraph.

  4. Dale Katherine Ireland September 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    Hi Anderson,

    But it was your last sentence that invited me to come play! You make important points about MOOCs. I appreciate your considering the different types of learning we do and where MOOCS might or might not align with different types of learning. I would love the title of the book you mention!

    In class, I tried to explain how someone like me might be at a loss in a MOOC, but I failed to communicate my point. As someone with ADHD, dyslexia, and learning disabilities, I would not get the support I need in a MOOC because the infrastructure that enables my access to education would not be in place–or, to put it another way, would not have to be in place. I would like to see more discussions about how MOOCs would work with learners who use accessibility services offered by colleges and universities.



  5. Anderson Evans September 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Dale (and anybody else who might be interested),

    The book is called “Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software” by Mizuko Ito. It is published by MIT Press.

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