Yves Epelboin, Yves.email@example.com
Version française (October 2013)
EDUCAUSE 2014 brought together over 7500 people in Los Angeles, digital actors in universities. Thanks to an introduction by R. Katz, it was an opportunity to visit two major universities, UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) and UCSD (University of California San Diego), 12th and 14th in the Shanghai ranking.
Very warm welcome by J. David, CIO, and his team. A number of courses are recorded. They are both use for on-site learning and distance learning as SPOC (Small Online Private Course). A vast majority of students disagrees about pure distance learning ( 80%) because the social aspects of campus life is important to them . UCLA is cautious about MOOC and has decided to “wait and see”.
Another very warm welcome by S. Relyea, Vice Chancellor External and Business affairs. UCSD has a much more enthusiastic attitude. The first courses were opened in Coursera in January 2012. They consider that MOOC are the only way to meet the huge demand for training by the most disadvantaged people , including Latinos . 30% of students do not have a sufficient level to enter the university but can acquire the proper level through MOOC .
Moreover UCSD has not the funds needed to build the amphitheaters necessary for such a number of students, thus MOOC are the only reasonable solution. However their cost should not be underestimated (up to a $ 300,000 for a full semester course) . UCSD is also interested in MOOC to promote international exchanges between students.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the MOOC have yet to be validated.
MOOC are also of great interest in blended learning to transform teaching practices (inverted pedagogy) but there is no question of granting a diploma. They are not an end by themselves .
UCSD uses Coursera , Google Course Builder and an internal solution and soon edX . They believe in open source and do not want to be locked into one single solution. They are very interested in OpenedX .
A first general feeling: while last year communications on MOOC gathered the larger rooms, the audience is much smaller this year. On the Gartner " hype curve " MOOC fall down very quickly. Only manufacturers, like Microsoft, continue to be strong supporters.
MOOC are now enrolled in the daily life of many universities. But there are concerns about cost and many other questions. Among them, how to reward staff? After the initial excitement when all provided their services free of charge, some raise the question about the courses ecosystem. Instead of many courses on the same subject saving mean a rationalization.
However few people discuss why MOOC are produced: internal use as SPOC (Small Online Private Course)? Massive public use? A mean to reduce tuition fees for entry into the first year of college? ... All is true. There is a general refusal of use of MOOC as an alternative to teaching on campus.
For internal use SPOC must overcome the mistrust of students who do not like too much to study from a distance and are attached to the life on the campus. A number of American universities discover distance education which they were not so much interested so far. MOOC or SPOC are the good answer for this purpose.
Most universities have established a new structure to manage MOOC. It reports directly to the President and it is supported by special funds. Funding does not come through the normal circuit.
An interesting paper was presented by SUNY (Innovative Education Technology Grants, IITG ) on the use of Open Badges to monitor learning. A badge is a token certifying that the student got some experience. It is accompanied by a link to a description of its meaning (skill, lnowledge…) and is , in principle, protected against counterfeiters. The user acquires them among the course and they are automatically added in a port - folio. At the end of the course the student gains a series of badges describing his/her activity. It can then decide whether to make them public. Success to a MOOC is shown through of a collection of badges. This standardized approach will certainly be of great interest, in a near future, as a means of certification.