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Multilitteratus Incognitus

Pondering what to learn next πŸ€”

Pondering the MOOC post-mortem

Statute of thinking man
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Back in December, I had an idea: 2022 is the 10 year anniversary since the "year of the MOOC," so why not write something about it? After all, open education and MOOCs are subjects that interest me a lot, still. MOOCs of course go back before 2012, and the year of the MOOC in 2012 was really relevant in North America.  I've seen other proclamations for the year of the MOOC being 2013 or 2014, but that's in different contexts. Anyway, since it's 10 years from some proclamation, and this year is actually one where I am free and clear from the obligations of dissertation writing, I thought it would be fun to revisit my old stomping grounds and do a 10-13 year retrospective research article (I need to get back into publishing somehow, no? πŸ˜‚). I also have a title:  MOOC post-mortem: A decade(+) of MOOCs.  More on this title later.

Anyway, I decided to start this project in a very predictable way.  I already had a treasure trove of research from 2009 through 2019(ish) about MOOCs that I had poured over for my dissertation. I was already familiar with the majority of major findings. So, the logic went, I only really needed to see what was new from 2019(ish) to 2022(ish) and just revisit the literature review work I did for my dissertation with a new lens through which to look through.  However, this left me totally unfulfilled. I mean, I've read the vast majority of this literature. I've also authored or co-authored some of it.  Heck, I probably peer-reviewed some of it. I didn't want to do yet another meta-analysis. There are a few of those around, I've done one with Zaharias, Aras and his colleagues did one, George and Peter did one, SangrΓ  and his colleagues have one, Zhu et al have one... Do we really need another meta-analysis? πŸ€” Probably not.πŸ˜…πŸ™„  

So, I've taken a step back to really reassess what I want to do with this MOOC post-mortem.  I really feel like there is a need to do a post-mortem on MOOCs because they are essentially dead. Sure, platforms like edx, FutureLearn, and coursera still enroll students, I even took a John's Hopkins course in 2020 on coursera about contact tracing (fascinating stuff!), and I periodically jump into FutureLearn for new courses. FutureLearn has emerged as my favorite platform, but that's a thought for another post.  Anyway, I am, at this point, hesitant to call these things MOOCs. I think there is something missing here, and I am not quite sure what that thing is, but I doubt that I begin this exploration in currently published literature.

In thinking about this project, what comes to mind is something like an oral history (maybe...πŸ€”), but I am not quite sure how to proceed with it. MOOCs were pretty formative for me, both as a post-post-graduate learner and a researcher. I learned a lot from the courses and the communities I was a member of, but I am not quite sure how to proceed in researching this post-mortem because MOOCs went from being an exciting thing to examine and be part of..., to being m'ehπŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ, to being things that are constrained by the same (or similar) things that constrain regular education.  All of this happened while I was in my dissertation cocoon, so the before/after MOOCs comparison right now is pretty striking. IDK, maybe others have already experienced this and have moved on, and I am just catching up.

So, I guess my question to the audience that reads this:  Do you feel like the MOOC is dead?  Does a post-mortem (and/or eulogy) make sense?  How might one go about it? πŸ€”
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