Friday, August 5, 2011

Need to Redefine what a MOOC is?

In a recent thread in EduMOOC OERu group the following was posted:
"I also know of a MOOC on Artificial Intelligence through Stanford University
(not sure who the contact is)
I then made the following reply: 
For me its not a MOOC (Educause, Cormier and Siemens), yes very interesting. An important step beyond "the Open Courseware" idea.
From what I understood in their web page the course is open to anyone to take it, but its a totally structured course.
 They follow a book (Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach by one of the teachers, US$114 in amazon) have a Syllabus, weekly exams, grading.
It can be taken free, (all online) even if you don't belong to Stanford university. Its not clear how students will interact between themselves. 8000 people requested information.
Interesting because it will be  Massive, Open, Online and a Course.
Today the following link was posted
"George Siemens: Stanford University does a MOOC

I am now somehow confused. Could someone help me reason and reconcile concepts on this?



  1. Hi Osvaldo,

    Have you gotten this message already? I'm still trying to understand how the discussion forums work when utilities that seem to interconnect do not--or at least don't feed useful information back which is principal one of AI.

    Anyway, I've learned to save comments in these courses for times like this when it seems my messages go astray so here's what I wrote to you last night on the Stanford course:

    Hi Osvaldo,

    My self-assembled understanding of what qualifies as a MOOC must include the opportunity for true student participation to the level of creating, distributing and being responsible for content. The Stanford course isn't "open" because its content is entirely pre-determined, its "interaction" with the student is both top down and based on learning outcomes defined by the presenters as necessary proof of learning without opportunity for interpretation or alternate understandings that may better express the meaning of what is presented.

    To my mind this isn't an open course by any definition. It is free and might be worth taking for the content but it is just an institutional learning object that will not be affected by your being there. That's why they give you a certificate, to help you remember and show others you were there.

    And today:
    I don't mean the course is not worth taking but it is not correct to label it a MOOC. Where I work we spent all last semester transferring a text-based course into Moodle for distribution on the net. This was about 99% copy and paste with some minor modifications and is now nothing more than a old-school correspondence course.

    Setting aside the distractions of offering a course for free to a huge number of people, the core (to my mind) of MOOCs is interaction. True interaction where the student can influence content, where large numbers of participants introduce chance discoveries and diversity disrupts the comfort of sameness. At best, the interaction in this course will be a limited questions area where you can query predetermined content for predetermined answers. Because they are AI guys, they may also have built some sort of responsive utility based on probable student behaviors but that's it.

    To top it off, notice they are only offering a participation certificate to those taking the course as a MOOC? Complete their content at their pace and to their specifications and they are kind enough to bless you with a cheap piece of paper that even they admit is worthless. Sounds like the closed educational system I attended as a kid. It isn't what you learned, it's about who you paid to hear it from.


  2. Hi Scott

    Ive just read your comment(s).
    I agree with you in what a MOOC should be following the work of Siemens, Cormier, Downes and many others.

    As I said in my new blog post: Today we can only speculate.
    I would like to first understand the AI Stanford proposal.