Momenta Learning

A blog on topics related to Elearning, online education, and instructional design.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why you shouldn't tear MOOCs apart because one of them had a glitch...

I recently came across this article about that MOOC course that was running in Coursera and was pulled out due to technical problems. I promised myself that I would not join those crowds that are calling for the failure of the MOOC movement or those who claim that this is still a work in progress and so on. I will not get carried away by all the discourse that has already started regarding this issue. I have been closely following the development of the MOOC courses offered by my university in Coursera. I know these courses are taking a lot of resources and time to develop, and I know that the team in charge of this project has made sure they have delivered a high quality product because the university’s name is on the line. After knowing these facts, I feel puzzled from the reaction that this piece of news has produced. I am sure Georgia Tech spent time and resources in the development process as well, and I am confident that the team made sure they delivered a quality product. Now don’t get me wrong, I know they made a mistake but I don’t think it was due to negligence or carelessness. I think they just didn’t comprehend what type of beast a MOOC really is, which is different to a regular online course they offer at their university. They had a plan, that in their minds, was going to work but it had unintended consequences when put in place. It can be argued that there should have been more postproduction reviews by both parties, GT and Coursera, but Coursera has not much saying on how the courses are developed and their assistance is limited to how to integrate the designed courses in their interface. In reality, few people really know what it takes to develop a MOOC course and they assume it shouldn’t take that much effort or time, but it actually does, on both counts. Many people are benefiting with the MOOC model but I don’t think many of them stop to think about the amount of effort and work put into these courses to really appreciate them. They only know it is free, that a prestigious university is behind the course ergo it should be a high quality course and I am going to complain if they don’t deliver that. I have seen courses developed by those so-called e-learning experts out there and let me tell you, they charge an arm and a leg and they only deliver half of that, but you don’t see people complaining about those courses on the internet. If this problem was due to lack of experience then I think what they did was the honest thing to do, pull off the course, reassess and re-deliver and I am pretty sure they are going to turn around that corner and come back with a better product, I just hope that those enrolled in the course that complained all over the internet will re-enroll in the course and then comment on how they in fact had a better experience this time around.

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