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Reflections on the state of MOOCs, from the eMOOC2019 Conference

- June 10, 2019 in featured, guestpost, oer

By Fabio Nascimbeni & Valentina Goglio


Couple of weeks ago, we attended the eMOOC2019 conference in Naples, an international event gathering the major global MOOCs providers such as Coursera, edX and FutureLearn, aiming to advance the international debate on MOOCs and online learning in general.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our main takeaway is that MOOC as a concept is evolving, and not towards an open future, for at least two reasons.

First, despite the rhetoric put forward by the major global MOOCs providers, who still speak of “MOOC revolution” and of “MOOCs transforming access to education”, the feeling is that MOOCs are losing their first O (the one of Open). The new “usage models” adopted by the main international providers tend in fact to restrict the open and free use of their MOOCs resources in different ways. Let alone that MOOCs content are very rarely released as OERs, we have been getting used to MOOCs whose content is available only when the course is actually running, and now we have to face the fact that once we subscribe to a course we have access to its content only for a limited period of time. The first one to introduce a paywall for graded assignments was the for-profit platform Coursera in 2015, then joined by FutureLearn in 2017, which further restricted free access to course materials to 14 days after the end of the course. The latest to join the group is the non-profit platform EdX, whose course materials will not be freely accessible after the end of the course, starting from early 2019 (source: Class Central)

Second, as demonstrated by the micro credentials hype coupled with the massive entrance in the MOOC market by the Australian recruitment company SEEK (that invested some 50M$ in FutureLearn and more than 100M$ in Coursera), MOOCs are transforming into “off the shelf skills development courses” with a clear employability target. As Mark Brown noted in the OpenupEd Trend Report on MOOCs, the recent wave of MOOCs is moving toward MOOCs for credit and Continuing Professional Development. The new hot topic are micro-credentials: professional short degrees that pile up single MOOCs or online university courses to form a short and consistent series on a specific topic. Not surprisingly, opportunities and limitations associated to such resources targeting professionals and other medium-high skilled workers were discussed, during the eMOOC2019 conference, in three parallel sessions and one plenary round table.

Gone are the days of the MOOCs revolution in a lifelong and informal learning sense. We know MOOCs started as a phenomenon connected to Open Education, and many of us have witnessed the turn that this kind of online courses have taken from the first open and connectivist experiences (of Downes and Siemens, among others) towards more content-based and structured courses with an increasing employability and market value, but “clockwork MOOCs” are not easy to digest.

On the positive side, the eMOOCs conference also showed some more open approaches to MOOCs, such as the one by Federica.eu, the MOOCs platform of the hosting organisation Università Federico II of Naples, or the Open Knowledge POLIMI which provides all video lectures freely available on their dedicated Youtube channel. It is possibly in these national experience where we can still find some of the original breadth of MOOCS. For the rest, quoting the inspiring presentation of Monty King on postcolonial aspects of MOOCS: “the empire MOOCs back”.

About the authors

Fabio Nascimbeni works as assistant professor in the International University of La Rioja, and is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sao Paulo (USP), where he collaborates with the CEST – Centro de Estudos sobre Tecnologia e Sociedade. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN), of the Editorial Board of the EURODL Journal, as well as of a number of Scientific Committees in the field of learning innovation. He is active in the field of innovation and ICT for learning since 1998, by designing and coordinating more than 40 research and innovation projects and promoting European and international collaboration in different areas, from school education to higher education to lifelong learning. Further, he has coordinated a number of international collaboration actions in fields spanning from Science and Technology, ICT research, information society development, educational research, specifically focusing on Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. His main research interests are open education, learning innovation, e-learning, digital literacy, social and digital inclusion, social networking. He can be followed as @fabionascimbeni on Twitter.

Valentina Goglio is Marie Slodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society at the University of Turin (IT). Valentina does research in Economic Sociology and Sociology of Education. Her current project is on diffusion of MOOCs and their social implications for access and returns to education.

(this post was originally published in the http://research.unir.net/ blog)

Yes we can Inchallah: Morocco OER Strategy Forum

- December 9, 2016 in featured, oer, world

By Daniel Villar-Onrubia Javiera Atenas

This week we had the opportunity to participate in the Morocco OER Strategy Forum hosted by Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech as part of the OpenMed project. We spent two very inspiring days learning with the OpenMed colleagues about Moroccan Open Education (OE) initiatives and discussing future steps for the project. Lots of food for thought and delicious real food! Moroccan hospitality is just fantastic.

Yes we can, if God wills picture by Marcello Scalisi (UniMed)

Yes we can, if God wills picture by Marcello Scalisi (UniMed)

The first day focused on the state-of-the-art of OE in Morocco and showcased relevant experiences and policies in the country presented by guest speakers from several institutions. The day started with speeches by the President of Cadi Ayyad University, Abdellatif Miraoui, and the President of UNIMED, Wail Benjelloun, who stressed that OE should be understood as a Human Right and that it offers an excellent opportunity for ensuring that universities do not become irrelevant institutions for learning in a digital age.

The opening speeches were followed by a presentation of the OpenMed Compendium, a report edited by Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) with contributions from all partners that is the main deliverable of the first work package of the project. The document gives an overview of OE in the Middle-East and North African (MENA) region and includes a number of cases studies looking at different types of initiatives that could be taken as a source of inspiration by institutions interested in fostering the adoption of open education practices. The compendium also draws on insights from a series of international experts and offers some recommendations around five key themes:

  • Top-down and bottom-up implementation
  • Supporting staff in using and integrating open practices and open resources
  • Collaborative creation in communities of practice
  • Enhancing the quality of student learning
  • Licensing of Open Educational Resources (OER)

The day continued with a presentation by Ilham Laaziz on GENIE (le Programme National GENIE pour la généralisation des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication dans l’Education), a governmental programme promoting the adoption of ICTs in education. After that, speakers from several Moroccan universities presented OE initiatives developed at their respective institutions: Université Ibn Zohr in Agadir (by Ahmed Al Makari), Al Akhwayn University in Ifrane (by Hassane Darhmaoui and Violetta Cavalli), Université Mohammed 5 in Rabat (by Ilham Berrada), Université Hassan 2 in Casablanca (by Noureddine Damil) and Khalid Berrada from Université Cadi Ayyad Marrakech presented UC MOOCs. In addition, Ismail Mekkaoui Alaoui (Cadi Ayyad University) presented on the Open Book ProjectYou can see all the presentations in the OpenMed Slideshare page.

The last part of the day was devoted to discussing the OpenMed OER Regional Agenda, following a presentation of the draft by Daniel Burgos and Fabio Nascimbeni (UNIR).

Jemaa el Fna by Daniel Villar-Onrubia

Jemaa el Fna by Daniel Villar-Onrubia

The second day of the forum continued discussions on next steps of the OpenMed project, with a particular focus on the development of institutional roadmaps for the adoption of Open Educational Practices. Likewise, the day included presentation of OER Repositories and Coventry University’s Domains of One’s Own initiative.

Most importantly, the day focused on discussing ways of formalising the good intentions and current initiatives, as one of the participants said: “It is important to coordinate our activities by creating chapeau of action, which is a common place where everyone in the Moroccan Universities can compare and share their practices and learn new ones.” It is key for Morocco to enhance and promote what they are already doing, as mentioned by other participant: “Morocco needs to commit to capacity building for their faculty staff by involving them in Open Education projects, sharing good practice and bringing people together, as communities of practice are the main driver to develop Open Education in every country.”

One of the main conclusions of the forum is that there is already a significant critical mass of OE initiatives in Morocco and the country could indeed play a leading role in the development of this field of practice in the South Mediterranean and, more broadly, the MENA region. However, better cohesion and coordination between universities is still needed in order to spread the principles of OE more widely and foster engagement with initiatives, as well as to prevent the duplication of efforts – e.g. when institutions are producing MOOCs. Other aspects that would require further development are the promotion of research aimed at understanding the adoption of open educational practices as well as efforts to improve awareness, both within and beyond the country, of Moroccan OE initiatives.

Jemaa el Fna by Daniel Villar-Onrubia

Jemaa el Fna by Daniel Villar-Onrubia

As a potential response to some of these issues, it was suggested the idea of working on a declaration at a country level, which could help build a network of institutions and harness support from the government. In this regard, the Scottish Open Education Declaration was discussed as an interesting model. Another measure suggested to help improve the visibility of Moroccan OE initiatives would be translating basic information into English and taking advantage of pre-existing platforms such as the OER World Map.

If you want to learn more about #OpenMed activities on Open Education in the MENA region have a look to their webpage and blog and think about contributing with a video message to their collection of videos of OER experts, helping them to inspire educators into adopting Open Educational Practices.

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