v6.2.1 - moving along, a point increase at a time

eLearning, ePedagogy, MOOC MOOC!

Huzzah!  Half-way through Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future!  This time I am reviewing chapter 6, which is titled Learning Theories: ePedagogical Strategies for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Higher Education.  The abstract is as follows:

This chapter reviews various learning theories about e-pedagogical strategies for the effective use of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in higher education. E-pedagogical strategies refer to the various teaching methods or approaches used by educators when encouraging students to engage with online learning. An up-to-date broad knowledge of learning theories is required by educators to inform and inspire their teaching approaches. Before developing lesson plans, educators should have a clear idea of the learning outcomes which they hope the learners will achieve by engaging with the lessons, be they delivered on or off line. By knowing the desired learning outcomes in advance of developing the lesson plans, educators have the opportunity to consider various learning theories, teaching methods, and pedagogical strategies to select the most appropriate one(s) to use when creating course content for MOOCs. The chapter continues the discussion on ‘ePedagogy and interactive MOOCs' from the perspective of addressing the topic of ‘ePedagogy and students' use of HCI (integrating interactivity into asynchronous MOOCs).
I should start off by saying that I really wanted this chapter to be good (i.e. teach me something), but I came away a little disappointed.  I don't know if this is because I've been reading research for a little while now and, for lack of better words, I "expect better" when I read something that is billed as research; or if there is a mismatch between my expectations of this book and what it's meant to be.

Anyway, what I was expecting to read when I read this chapter was something much more in-depth about how learning theories inform, or can inform, MOOC development.  Considering that we've had a variety of cMOOCs around since 2011, and a whole boatload of xMOOCs, pMOOCs, and other __MOOCs around, it seemed like a good opportunity to do an analysis.  What I ended up getting was (mostly) a review of learning theories and their historical context and how they might be applied to MOOCs.  The application part was really small, so it seemed mostly a historical overview of some learner theories with a little bit of MOOC thrown in.

Even when considering the learning theories, no justification was given for the theories chosen to be examined and some things seemed to be thrown in that weren't really learning theories (example: Computer-supported collaborative learning).  Some learning theories seemed to be  described ad nauseum, while others got short shrift.   The disappointing part was that one could replace "MOOC" with "Online course" and the applications of learning theory would be just as valid.  There wasn't really something here that was MOOC specific.

I think that the paper can be good however, just not as a chapter in this book.  This paper looks like a great paper written for a graduate course. It provides a researched view of learning theories and how they might apply to MOOCs. As a student research paper I wouldn't expect learners to go out there and try every single type of MOOC.  It's taken me 5 years, and I am still experimenting with MOOCs, so I don't expect someone new to know all this stuff from the start. However, as a chapter in a "premier reference source" published in 2015, I'd expect much more.

Maybe I am way to cranky about this.  What do you think?

O'Donnell, E., Lawless, S., Sharp, M., & O'Donnell, L. (2015). Learning Theories: ePedagogical Strategies for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Higher Education. In E. McKay, & J. Lenarcic (Eds.) Macro-Level Learning through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): Strategies and Predictions for the Future (pp. 92-118). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-8324-2.ch006
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