MOOCs are not a place


Jim Shimabukuro, in his article: What’s Wrong with MOOCs: One-Size-Fits-All Syndrome, refers to the Malaysian impressive increase of MOOCs (from 64 to 300!) but also to the restrictive character of the Australian educational platform OpenLearning as the only one used for this purpose. Shimabukuro recognizes the importance of a ready made digital platform when introducing teachers to this new practice. He also notes, however, that this should be just a temporary phase in a long process of reorganizing the courses according to the new educational technologies:

any MOOC, isn’t a place. Instead, it’s a manifestation of a pedagogy that’s continually reconstructed by the individual participants, teacher and students. It exists not in the world out there but within each participant’s mind.

Educational environments such as OpenLearning, Coursera, edX can familiarize educators with online technology and offer them a easy start, but the parameters influencing the creation and the online articulation of a course can be indefinite. Therefore, trying to fit in the generic educational profile of the main providers may force teachers to leave out significant aspects of their courses and/or neglect the particularities of the audience they refer to. The problem is that the unwillingness of the academic personnel to rethink their educational practices in their unique circumstances or their awkwardness toward the admittedly unknown (to most of them) territory of online courses leads them to the ready made products offered by the main providers. This is not necessarily wrong, as long as teachers experiment with it instead of commodifying the process. If I may rephrase Shimabukuro’s quote mentioned above by paraphrasing my favorite Guy de Bord, MOOCs are not a commodity, but the manifestation of a need of the people to participate in communities of knowledge, interact and learn.

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