Friday, March 7, 2014

Pedagogy of UK MOOCs

Bayne and Ross's 76 page report "The pedagogy of the Massive Open Online Course: the UK view" (2014) proves a sober look at the much hyped topic of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). They found 58 MOOCs offered by UK universities (Future learn: 29, Coursera: 21, the remainder independent). The social sciences have the most MOOCS, computer science only six. Most MOOCs are six weeks. Only two MOOCs are for credit. Not mentioned in the report is that one of these, Vampire Fictions (Edge Hill University) had had a very low take-up rate for the assessed option.
Bayne and Ross (2014) reject the cMOOC/xMOOC classification and also assert that the platform used (such as Cosera or edX) does not determine the type of teaching used.
Most significantly Bayne and Ross (2014) argue that "The teacher’ is of "central importance", despite the use of automated tools.
None of Bayne and Ross (2014) findings are surprising. MOOCs are just the latest manifestation of distance education courses, which have been offered for hundreds of years on paper and for decades via electronic technology.
What this report fails to address is the question of why so many UK institutions are investing resources in courses which will not earn any fees and which students do not receive any credit for. A second question would be what the institutions expect to happen as a result of offering such courses, which will be different to similar extension coruses, over the previous two hundred years. Universities quickly tire of education programs which do not result in the conversion of free students to fee students.
There is a well known form of technological optimism, where proponents of a new technology say "the old paradigm no longer applies". However, the technology MOOCs use is essentially the same as that developed for on-line courses over the last twenty years. The most "massive" the MOOCs is still smaller than previous generation broadcast TV distance courses, which had millions of students.


Bayne, S & Ross, J (2014, February). The pedagogy of the Massive Open Online Course: the UK view. from Higher Education Academy Web Site:

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