Momenta Learning

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What I believe is another weakness of the MOOC model...

One of the main disadvantages of the MOOC educational model comes from the lack of college credit units. If you go through one of these courses, you only receive a nice certificate of completion, if you did very well, then you might earn a nice kudos from the instructor. Beyond that, there is no other usable advantage of spending all that time completing that course. Some are offering to let outside reviewers take a look at your performance in the course, but so far I have no data on how that model is working out. Besides the lack of credit, I believe MOOCs also lack of something else: depth. These courses usually will not run for a whole standard college semester (12-16 weeks), they are shorter compressed versions of regular online courses offered at a college online program. This speeding process strips the course of depth. The instructor will have to sacrifice some content in order to cover the material that does fit the allotted time for the course. For example, if you are taking a course in statistics, chances are the instructor is using a software program to aid the course in teaching the subject. So, if you know nothing about the software, you will not be able to complete the course satisfactorily and in time because the course will only run for five-six weeks, leaving you barely a chance to watch the videos, readings, and maybe be able to take on some quizzes. But these courses usually have assignments to complete using the software, which you will not learn to use at a level and skill the assignment requires. They do give you plenty of resources to explore so that you can become familiar with the software.
Then you might say, “if you don’t know the software, why did you sign up for the course?” My answer will be, “well because I can!”. I don’t think MOOCs should leave to the student the decision on which course to take, it is a waste of resources and time. Keep it open, but introduce some kind of screening process and structure (a curriculum, if you want). If you want to take this statistics course, then you should take this other course in how to use this software, when you successfully complete that course, then you can come back to learn the in-depths of statistics and not worry about how I am going to learn this software in just five weeks.

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