v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

MOOC Standards...what do these look like?

The case of MOOC standards (as well as MOOC sustainability) is something that keeps coming back to me as a topic of pondering.  I read about it in other blogs.  Then, I want to respond to some of these articles, and bounce off some ideas, but I lose motivation and decide "m'eh" - this topics isn't much of interest.  Then, a little while later, my interest on the topic rekindles.  I thought it would be best to at least write something to keep this conversation on quality going (it might even motivate me to write more in depth...or collaborate with some colleagues to produce something more "academic").

In any case, the most recent thing I read about MOOC Quality, and what that might look like is from eCampus News from about a month ago (something sticking out in my Pocket to-read list). The article points to recent research published in IRRODL where the Quality Matters rubric was used to keep the quality under control in a MOOC. I haven't read the article - I've been busy with school, but it's on my radar for a deeper reading once this semester is over†. However, even though I have not read this article yet, I can tell you that my professional opinion is that the QM Rubric is the wrong measurement of measuring quality in MOOCs.

Don't get me wrong! I like QM, I am QM certified, and I have served in review teams for online courses that want to be QM certified.  However, the heuristics of small online courses, ones that are not open or free, are different from the heuristics of MOOCs that are open, often free of cost, and have an open entry/exit policy for people learning and/or engaging in them.  Can you design MOOCs to fit the QM rubric?  You bet!  Will those MOOCs be successful?  Maybe?  But if they are, they won't be  because a course was designed with QM in mind.

QM, as with any measurement that aims to be objective, has a specific ways of measuring what is of value, and when we use such measurements we tend to industrialize the learning process.  At this point in my development I'll be bold enough to say that it is inevitable that objective measurements create some sort of industrialization, but I may be wrong.  I think that the power of MOOCs is that we are able to break from the current mold of what we conceive as learning, and learning online, and learning in distributed environments, and try out new things.   We don't know yet what works, but we've only been at this for a little while.  xMOOC providers, such as udacity, coursera and to some extent edx, have a pressure to produce profit in some way, share, or form, to show their funders that this is a worthwhile venture - and that they won't go the way of FATHOM.  Some modified version of QM could apply to xMOOCs, but I think that what Siemens said recently is quite true. MOOCs (xMOOCs) are a regression of education - not a progression to the next big thing or 'aha' for us. cMOOCs, and other types of MOOCs that are more experimental in nature have that potential to show us some interesting things, but not if we shoehorn them into our conceptions of what "good online learning" is with frameworks like QM that are geared toward a different type of design and learner demographic.


†and I also finish reviewing that edited volume on MOOCs...argh... the "to do list keeps getting bigger.

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