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Innovating Pedagogy 2013: MOOCs

blendedlearning's picture

The Innovating Pedagogy report is an annual overview of edutech from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. The 2013 report, the second in the series, selects 10 emerging innovations from the long list of existing technologies which the institute believes have the potential to make a significant impact on education. These are not technologies which are in development or even new, but rather technologies and ideas which are already being effected but have room to expand. The report ranks each innovation in terms of potential impact and timescale for implementation, describes its current application, and then explains the pedagogy behind the innovation and how it could be re-envisioned for maximum impact. The first innovation the report discusses are MOOCs or "Massive open online courses".

Potential impact: large
Timescale: short (1-2) years

MOOCs have been the subject of a great deal of attention and debate in the last year. As the 2012 report explained, MOOCs are simply "open-access online courses that provide no constraints on class size,” but the number of types of MOOCs available has increased even within the last year. Providers of MOOCs, such as Coursera, generally design their courses in a way which corresponds to a traditional class, adjusted for online interaction, assessment, and content-delivery. However, being divorced from standard academic or accreditation systems, MOOCs require -- and thus far, often lack -- some alternate form of built in method for ensuring engagement. According to Open University's data, fewer than 10% of people who register for a MOOC complete the entire course.

A graphic from page 12 of the report showing the low completion rate to which most MOOCs are subject.

Based upon these results, it seems that MOOCs as they are currently offered could be valuable, for example, for professional development and leisure learning, but not necessarily for helping to level the educational playing field. The section concludes by identifying challenges which MOOCs could address but have, so far, failed to fully engage with:

  • Allowing education providers to improve quality, opportunities for collaboration, and value-for-price of the educational materials which they provide.
  • Encourage those considering education to engage.
  • Increase public awareness of and engagement in education by creating enjoyable and rewarding experiences, even for those outside formal education.
  • Provide a means of achieving an education for those who lack either the means, prerequisites or confidence.

For more information or to read the full report, visit Open University's blog.