MOOCs and Higher Education : ThinkTank Emerging Technologies Meeting 20

Hi, ThinkTank,

This week we’ll be taking a closer look at a recent development in distance education: the massive open online course (MOOC). A MOOC is an online course aiming at large-scale participation and open access via the web. [] The most successful examples of the MOOC model have been Coursera – and Udacity  –   For the discussion, please come ready to talk through some of the leading questions below.

  • What library curriculums/topics could fit into the MOOC model?
  • What do MOOCs offer that in-person classes can’t? Or vice versa?
  • What does MOOC competition bring to discussions of traditional classrooms and definitions of “student”?

As always, some readings to get you thinking on the topic are listed below.  (If you are running short on time, read the Shirky and Friedman articles.)

See you this Thursday morning at 10 am in CR1,



“Napster, Udacity, and the Academy – Clay Shirky.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:26:51. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“The Professors’ Big Stage – Thomas Friedman, New York Times” Last modified 03/01/2013 17:28:41. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“Coursera commits to admitting only elite universities | Inside Higher Ed.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:26:24. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“The Professors Behind the MOOC Hype – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:47:31. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“All MOOCs and No Play Makes University Dull.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:38:45. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“Coursera commits to admitting only elite universities | Inside Higher Ed.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:44:13. (accessed 3/25/2013).

“MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education – Li Yuan and Stephen Powell, JISC CETIS.” Last modified 03/25/2013 17:44:13. (accessed 3/25/2013).

Notes from the discussion:

Firsthand experiences with MOOCs

  • Professor is engaging, sense of humor -> Creates new expectation
  • Real-time interaction
  • Scales well (Associate Dean and Head of Access Services are taking a Statistics MOOC)
  • Addresses different learning styles (asynchronous, visual…)
  • MOOCs not usually grounded in deliverable or measurable product/project. They could move in this direction.
  • MOOCS and humanities seems like a problematic fit. STEM fits better.

Possible MOOC model for Library Curriculum

  • Scale information literacy
  • MOOC as a branding and promotion opportunity for library
  • What about MOOC as publishing platform?
  • Think about MOOCs as uniting a curriculum: They are dissociated from meeting/collaborative learning – serendipity. Recognize how MOOC subjects and modules are complementary.
    • Metadata MOOC + Intro to Programming MOOC
    • Physics MOOC + Calculus MOOC
  • Library Tech Workshops additionally captured and available in MOOC
    • Blended model (hybrid MOOC and Traditonal lecture)

MOOC discussions around MSU campus

  • 30 to 40% failure rates in some classes at MSU -> MOOC as remedial training opportunities
  • Test out of MOOC as competency test to register for a class
  • Devaluing role of faculty – MOOCs are noted as disruptive
  • Can it piggyback on the Flipped classroom idea?
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