Friday, July 12, 2013

The Changing Face of MOOCs #mooclib

The Changing Face of MOOCs was the first talk, given by Hugh Davis, Southampton University at the MOOCs and libraries event #mooclib
Davis is covering rather a lot of content rather quickly in this talk, so I won't be able to capture it all! He started out by defining MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and identifying some characteristics, such as the need to deal with the very large volume of assessment e.g. by having peer assessment. He identified some motivations for universities, such as increasing flexibility and accessibility and enhancing the reputation of the university. There can be a hope that you pull people through from informal learning with the university (looking at Youtube videos by university staff, and then the next stage is MOOCs) through to formal learning (taking individual modules and then whole modules).
How can MOOCs make money? Through certifications, sponsorship, authenticated assessments, corporate learning (with companies paying) and selling access to student records. Who does MOOCs? - Davis showed a slide about an Edinburgh University MOOC which showed that 40% already had postgrad qualifications, and 30% had undergraduate - so these were well qualified learners. There are now various consortia offering MOOCs, including Futurelearn (which Sheffield University, my university, has now joined). Davis' university is also a member, and he said that his university is aiming at obviously popular subjects (like business) and unique/strong offerings e.g. Oceanography or Web Science at Southampton.
Davis briefly touched on patterns for socal learning and flagged up MOOCs as being about social learning - though my personal observation was that, overall, his presentation tended towards the corporate approach to MOOCs, rather than the more radical social constructivist roots of MOOCs.
Davis framed MOOCs as potential disruptive technology, with "education having its Napster moment" (e.g. because of there being so much content around, because of opportunities for private sector companies, employers looking to skills rather than qualifications). However, some people are quite robust about the future lives of universities, but may feel that the student experience needs to change more.
Davis outlined a structure for MOOCs at Southampton, with each MOOC or mini-MOOC having so many learning blocks (i.e. a sequence, e.g. video-text-discuss-quiz). Finally, Davis talked about various decisions that had to be made about the amount of time devoted to MOOCs, and this included use of resources (and thus the involvement of libraries). They need to identify high quality existing materials that are either open access or could be licensed by the university for all MOOC participants. Davis also flagged up that further intellectual property issues were being brought into focus (e.g. could an academic use material if he/she moved institutions).
At Southampton they have various teams and groups focused on MOOCS, including a steering group with includes "The Librarian" (I assume his means the library director). The role of the library was identified particularly with resource discovery and rights clearance (so, not explicitly information literacy - my observation, not his). Davis siad a MOOC was likely to be costed at several tens of thousands of pounds each (I won't be more precise as I'm not sure I heard it correctly).
A good question after this talk was about the role of public libraries (which hadn't been mentioned at all).

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