Friday, September 14, 2012

Too many blog posts and media articles and few research articles related to MOOCs (c-MOOCs and x-MOOCs)

Reading a recent post by Audery Watters plus the corresponding comments I started wondering: why are there so few research articles related to MOOCs (c-MOOCs and x-MOOCs [1]) so that no one can quote rigorous studies, facts and numbers?
In the post by Jeff Haywood “No such thing as a free MOOC” on Edinburgh University and Coursera he states: “Currently we know little about MOOC learners, about how to design and deliver successfully in a range of subjects, and most importantly at a range of levels (eg final year undergrad). Is the experience helpful to learners, and do they get value from their certificates of completion? Much more research is needed, and perhaps JISC might find this a useful area in which to support the UK HE community”.

So why does this happen? Simple:
  • The average time for publication in educational research journals is around 2-4 months
  • There is too much biased editorial filtering
  • Articles are dispersed into too many journals
  • In this rapidly changing topic, much of what is published is already (nearly) obsolete when it appears.
The basic science research community was faced with exactly this same problem some (many) years back.

From my perspective:

Perhaps as it happened in the world of physics and basic science, educational research should start implementing e-prints and an archiving system. See for example arXiv (an archiving system for electronic preprints) and inSPIRE (a retrieval system).

If you are interested in the answers to the following questions please see the added references:
  •  Is there an advantage for scientists to make their work available through repositories, often in preliminary form?
  •  Is there an advantage to publishing in Open Access journals?
  •  Do scientists still read journals or do they use digital repositories?
[1] The division of MOOCs into c-MOOCs and x-MOOCs is similar in spirit to the expressions “connectivist MOOCs and the others” by (George Siemens, 2012) or “the real MOOCs, not the x-MOOCs” by (Stephen Downes 2012)


  1. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  2. I could not agree more - rigorous research on MOOCs is needed. Part of the problem I think is that terms such as "cMOOC", "xMOOC" and indeed "MOOC" itself mean different things to different people. Also, the many ways in which MOOCs are 'used' by participants and the complex social interactions arising make it much more difficult in comparison with a traditional course (perhaps futile!), to get a handle on the MOOC as an 'object' and study it under 'laboratory conditions'. While the statistics released by MOOC providers do give some hard evidence (the xMOOCS of course will be reluctant to release too much!) I hope that social science has the ways and means of providing a much fuller picture.
    Gordon Lockhart

  3. Ao I do not like MOOC

    Today there is a new version of the online courses which have been existing for the last 20 years at $ 1,500, by for profits schools, for degrees from non reputable colleges quality is questionable .
    New online courses = NOL
    From elite universities
    At a small fee ( even free now )
    Best quality
    Unlimited enrollments
    At least certificates ( later for sure with degrees )
    Therefore a larger popu─▒lation will follow them .
    Even a new model will allow you to get credits and degrees immediately

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