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Dr Iain DohertyeLearning Pedagogical Support UnitCentre for the Enhancement of Teaching and LearningThe University of Hong Kong3rd May 2013

Everything You Needto Know About MOOCs (Well Almost)

The University of Hong Kong



Why Offer a MOOC?2

Three Key MOOC Questions4

What is a MOOC?3


MOOCs in Context3


The Different Types of MOOC



Will MOOCs Succeed?


What is a MOOC?The term MOOC was coined by Dave Cormier or Bryan Alexander (Alexander, 2008; Cormier, 2008; Daniel, 2012; Masters & Qaboos, 2011; G. Siemens, 2012a) to describe a course on Connectivism (CCK08) organized by George Siemens and Stephen Downers in 2008, which attracted 2,200 participants (Downes, 2010).

What is a MOOC?MassiveStudent numbers can be 100,000 +OpenStudy any course, anywhere at any timeOnlineAs opposed to face-to-face or blendedCourseLearning units in an academic subject

Why Offer a MOOC?

MOOCs can profile an institution as a leading 21st Century educational institution.


MOOCs may well be a game changer with respect to how education is delivered and consumed and institutions need to be in the MOOC space to experience delivering education in this way and to remain current with educational practices.

MOOCs provide an opportunity for an institution to experiment with teaching practices and to engage with new pedagogical approaches.

Institutions have a range of subject areas that are specific to their region e.g. HK SAR / China context and HKU can showcase these subjects through offering MOOC courses.

An institution can make knowledge more accessible to the general public through offering a range of MOOCs.

MOOCs in ContextThe history of introducing technologies into teaching and learning has been one of over promise and under delivery (Daniel, 2012; Reiser, 2001).

Already seen the failure of two significant online ventures Fathom from Columbia University and ALLLearn backed by Oxford, Stanford, Yale and Princeton (Knight, 2012).

Technologies will only be successfully integrated into teaching and learning when teachers change the way that they teach (Zemsky & Massy, 2004).

MOOCs in ContextAlthough we have seen different teaching models (King, 1993; McWilliam, 2008; George Siemens, 2005), wholesale changes in teaching approaches have not come about and, as we shall see, they are not occurring to any particular degree with MOOCs.

We need to move beyond the use of technologies for the purposes of information transmission.

There has been progress in this area but too often we still see the Learning Management System the enterprise tool of choice used poorly for teaching and learning (Beer, Jones, & Clark, 2009; Browne, Jenkins, & Walker, 2006; Malikowski, 2011).

Teaching Must Come FirstThe United Kingdoms Open University Vice Chancellor recognizes (Coughlan, 2012a) that teaching quality is a key issue that bears upon the ultimate success of any particular MOOC provider.

Worth listeningIt is easy to get into the OU but very difficult to come out the other side with a qualification.The OU is self sustaining, provides a quality education valued by employers and has solved the student identity issue for examination purposes.

Three Key MOOC QuestionsIn terms of the success of any particular MOOC we can focus on three key questions that will bear upon their ultimate success:What are the pedagogies that underpin the MOOC?What use is being made of technologies in the MOOC?What is the underlying philosophy / ethos of the MOOC?

The majority of MOOCs are offered through MOOC platforms and so these are organizational questions.

cMOOCsThe first MOOC ever offered was a cMOOC.Based on a Connectivist Learning TheoryKnowledge / content is generated by teachers, students and multiple others.Multiple technologies 12 in this first MOOC are used to connect people participating in the course.On the fringes but cutting edge in terms of pedagogy and technologies

sMOOCsCoursera MOOCs could be characterized as a Standard MOOCs or an sMOOC.

Founded in the fall of 2011 by Daphne Koller (Stanford) and Andrew Ng (Stanford) and was launched in April 2012 after significant venture capital funding was secured (MarketWire, 2012).

As of 4th April 2013 Coursera has 62 university partners and had registered over 3.5 million users enrolled in over 300 courses in 20 categories (Coursera, 2013a; Protalinksi, 2013a).

sMOOCsGrounded in behaviorist learning theory with some cognitive components and some constructivist components.This means transmission style teaching with drill and practice, problem sets and e.g. discussion forums.Uses a limited range of technologies and could be thought of in terms of LMS as platform.Very much in the mainstream with monetization a key component.

sMOOCsThere is a lack of pedagogical focus which may have to do with the fact that Coursera institutions consider MOOCs to be a side line activity rather than a way to explore new / better teaching and learning models (Armstrong, 2012; Daniel, 2012). The three key questions have been answered and sMOOCs have been characterized as lacking in a number of ways.

There are always exceptions (Knox et al., 2012).

xMOOCsedX could be characterized as an xMOOC.the X signifying excellence, external outreach, exploration, experimentation and expansion (Rodrick & Sun, 2012) holds for edX which has grown out of a tradition of exploring online teaching and learning (Daniel, 2012). MIT announced MITx at the end of 2011 for a launch in spring 2012. MITx has now morphed into edX with the addition of Harvard and UC Berkeley (EdX, 2012).

xMOOCsedX is not for profit (EdX, 2012) and has been financed to the tune of US$ 60 million through participating institutions and through gifts from Harvard and MIT alumni (EdX, 2012). As of November 2012 edX had 370,000 students (Coursera had 1.7 million at the same point in time) (Pappano, 2012).

xMOOCsedX At the time of writing edX has 33 courses (edX, 2013a) offered by HarvardX, MITx and BerkeleyX. Beginning in fall 2013, edX will offer courses from another 11 universities. In 2014, edX will expand further through offering courses from an additional 9 universities (edX, 2013b).Much more selective than Coursera and will cap when they have recruited the best universities in the world. edX is making statements about courses designed specifically for the web (De Luzuriaga, 2012).

xMOOCsedXAspirational statements about creating new online learning experiences and about researching how students learn and how technology can transform learningboth on-campus and worldwide (EdX, 2013; Rodrick & Sun, 2012). Commitment in these areas with edX collaborating with Cengage Learning for content creation (IStockAnalyst, 2012).

xMOOCsedXOverall, edX conceives of their MOOCs as providing the potential for educational research that will improve both the on campus and off campus experience (Classroom in the Cloud, 2012; de Luzuriaga, 2012; Lin, 2012).

Underlying pedagogies / technologies may not be that different at the moment but there seems to be an ongoing commitment to quality content creation / exploring technologies for effective teaching.

Will MOOCs Succeed?There is a lot of hype and no one is quite sure what impact they will have on the future of education (Regalado, 2012; Webley, 2012).

That said, MOOCs are much talked about and researchers along with the more popular press certainly understand MOOCs as potentially disrupting the traditional educational landscape (Rodrick & Sun, 2012).

Find ways to satisfy employers

Learning and identity issues

Will MOOCs Succeed?

Will have to find ways to monetize

This is possible and Coursera is already doing it

Teachers will have to change the way that they teach

Cant just record a lecture and put it online

First question concerns what constitutes success

Become self-sustaining whilst delivering a quality education valued by students and employers?

References Alexander, B. (2008). Connectivism Course Draws Night, or Behold the MOOC. Infocult: Uncanny Informatics. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from

Armstrong, L. (2012). Coursera and MITx - Sustaining or Disruptive. Changing Higher Education. Retrieved April 11, 2013, from

ReferencesBeer, C., Jones, D., & Clark, K. (2009). The Indicators Project Identifying Effective Learning: Adoption , Activity , Grades and External Factors. Same places, Different Spaces. Proceedings ascilite Auckland 2009 (pp. 6070). Auckland, New Zealand: ascilite. Retrieved from

ReferencesBrowne, T., Jenkins, M., & Walker, R. (2006). A Longitudinal Perspective Regarding the Use of VLEs by Higher Education Institutions in the United Kingdom. Interactive Learning Environments, 14(2), 177192. Classroom in the Cloud. (2012).Harvard Magazine. Retrieved May 1, 2013, from

ReferencesCormier, D. (2008). The CCK08 MOOC Connectivism Course, 1/4 Way. Daves Educational Blog. Retrieved April 4, 2013, from

Coughlan, S. (2012a). How Do You Stop Online Students cheating? BBC News. RetrieveMay 1, 2013, from