Expert Panel brings Clarity to MOOCs in Business+MOOCs Hangout

Clear as a [cow] Bell
    ‘Clear-as-a [Cow]-Bell’, by hynkle
The discussion on the Business+MOOC: the Hangout video recording with its expert panel is a must see for individuals within organizations considering implementing a MOOC and/or wondering how it might fit in with the orgnization’s strategy. Even if you are not a business person, but want to learn more about MOOCs, you’ll find the discussion enlightening. The recorded session brings clarity to what a MOOC can accomplish and what it can’t, as well as raising issues for further deliberation. Hosted by Jay Cross, the discussion features educators, business leaders, and the ‘rock stars of MOOCdom‘ as named by Cross. In this post I’ll list the panel members, highlight key themes of the discussion, provide links for further reading. I’ve also embedded the video recording at the end of the post. The session recording is an hour-long, which I realize is a significant time commitment, but it is highly recommend for those wanting further clarity about MOOCs. Note: the session formally begins at the 09:30 minute mark.

Why we Need Clarity
With any new phenomenon like the MOOC, it’s expected that there will be numerous misconceptions about what it can accomplish. There is a tendency to want to be part-of-the-action and get involved. This is a normal reaction. Though, better decisions can be made when there is full understanding of what the phenomenon can do for a given organization; how it might [or might not] fit in with the overall strategy. Numerous organizations may be considering the MOOC format to address a need or problem, yet its needs may be met more efficiently and effectively by another method or tool. These are the types of issues discussed in the session. Is a MOOC applicable to workplace training or education needs? What about to a business wanting to promote a service or product?

The Business+MOOC Panel
Host: Jay Cross
Educators:  Dave Cormier, Stephen Downes, Terri Griffith and George Siemens
Business People: Jos Arets, Bert De Coutere, Lal Jones-Beyy (from Coursera) Mark Finnern,  Jerry Michalski

Highlights of Hangout: Themes and Statements 

  • Definition of MOOC (Cormier), Massive: means scale, requires mass to facilitate connections within a network, Open: goes beyond ‘free’, means no barriers, not in a closed environment (i.e. within a business, only for employees), Online: changes the nature of learning, Course: provides a format and structure, a ‘flag pole’ for learners.
  • The user/learner is in control, not the business or course organizers. For this reason outcomes cannot be controlled and may differ from those intended. Organizations can’t control the message.
  • Learners need to be self-directed, intrinsically interested in the topic, and responsible. In other words MOOC format will not work for compliance training, or required skills an employee needs to learn for the job.
  • Scale is needed. A MOOC is not a MOOC with thirty, forty or even fifty participants.
  • Why is certification required? The point was raised, is providing a certificate for proof of MOOC completion not contradictory to the MOOC concept? The certificate model can be viewed as a carry over from the traditional education model. Discussion included using peer feedback and review as evidence of a learners skill level for potential employers. Another option—individuals demonstrate competencies for potential employers through simulation exercises, workplace contracts, etc.
  • Difference between and xMOOC and cMOOC (Downes). Coursera model is an xMOOC which is massive, though different from a cMOOC; is a format that is structured around established learning outcomes of a given topic.
  • Design Model for MOOCs. What is the course design model for a MOOC? This point was raised though not explored due to time constraints, but was put on the table as an important topic for future discussions.

Further Reading:

The recorded session of the Hangout is below. Fast forward to the 09:31 minute mark within the recording, this is where the session officially begins. There may be more panel discussions on this topic offered by Cross in the future—stay tuned to Cross’ Web page to keep posted. Enjoy!

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