MOOCs, abbreviated from massive open online courses, have become the most discussed educational topic because they promise higher education to be “better, cheaper and more widely available” across the world (Kirp, 2013). They are a form of a free online education for everyone around the world with internet access. They are provided by elite institutions, mainly from North America – Harvard, UC Berkeley, Standford.
If you observe MOOCs’ quick spread across the world, they are the best technological innovation for education that required the least effort to be applied (Baggaley, MOOC rampant, 2013).
They originate from the North America but they are intended for the underprivileged masses around the globe. For example, as of this writing, India has the second largest participants after the USA (SOURCE). Historically, MOOCs were invented only back in 2008. But MIT Technology Review already labeled them to be “The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years”. Plus, the New York Times called 2012 as the “Year of the MOOC”.
So all these wonderful features have led MOOCs to be examined critically – so early; therefore, some are already demanding perfection from MOOCs. But it’s too early to dismiss MOOCs because they are a significant form of online education; their hype criticism can be used to their advantage; and they are still maturing
METHOD AND MATERIALS
According to Daniel (2012), a study about MOOCs faces a “challenge” because “there has been no time for systematic research” on the topic. So this study utilizes some journal articles about MOOCs. Some of which are general articles to give an overview; others are a review of the literature to see the major significance areas.
The MOOC phenomenon has a real, significant impact – globally, politically and by comparing it with other forms of online education. First of all, higher education is completely changing “into a global activity”; therefore, the MOOC technology is more powerful and reaching everywhere (Aguaded-Gomez, 2013). So, by observing only its quick spread across the world, they are the best technological innovation for education that required the least effort to be applied (Baggaley, 2013).
Second even policy makers are considering it as a “paradigm- changing story” for higher education (Kirp, 2013). If policy makers are considering it then it is a real thing. Third, MOOCs are more preferable than other forms of online education; Baggaley (2013) concluded that “MOOCs tend to be simpler and more impersonal than previous forms of online education”. In a word, MOOCs’ impact on higher education will be weighty and continual (Haggard, 2013). Therefore, dismissing MOOCs early as a merely fad shows how their real impact is not evaluated; but rather thought like it is because they are much hyped technology (Daniel, 2012).
Calling MOOCs as being hype is unfavorable; but that can also be used to their advantage. There is a common criticism for all new technologies: hype (Baggaley, MOOC rampant, 2013). Therefore, this is not a distinct feature only for MOOCs – it is a shared characteristic. Even though some are using it as a criticism, at the same time, this hype factor is also what is pressuring universities to show their presence on the online education game (Kirp, 2013). All these coverage about it by the press, blogs and its founders will burn the fire like MOOC is “a-must “issue. So, to the advantage of higher education, the hype factor is the rout for more future MOOCs (Haggard, 2013). Therefore, instead of using hype-ness as a criticism, it is more logic to think them as MOOCs’ strongest weapon to survive itself. This will move them from the experimentation phase to the maturity phase – a phase they are already stepping into.
MOOCs are in a maturing phase. In a MOOC participants’ literature analysis, they gave evidence of satisfaction with it and “curiosity about the experience” (Haggard, 2013). During its few years of existence, MOOCs already boast alumni with positive experience. Also accreditation issue is already being debated and some “MOOCs beg[a]n to offer accredited learning” (Haggard, 2013). This will only further contribute to the worthiness of MOOCs.
This study proved the assumption that MOOCs need more time to prove their worthiness. It is true that there are challenges but according to Orwell, as cited by Shocken (2012), “mistakes are the portals to discovery”. MOOCs have already gained popularity and impact (Haggard, 2013). So it is just a matter time since they will have a general acceptance.
Second, this study believes that the hype of MOOCs can be used to their advantage. This study found that this criticism is not a distinct feature for MOOCs; but rather it is a shared characteristic for all new technology evolutions. But rather it is the hype of MOOCs that is forcing many universities to join the reformed wave of online education. So it is rout for more future MOOCs.
Finally, and most importantly, this study ends with the statement that MOOCs have passed the experimentation phase to the maturity phase. And it is trying to solve its flaws, i.e. accreditation (Haggard, 2013).
This study only focused on the significance of MOOCs, how the hype of MOOCs is contributing their sustainability, and the maturity of MOOCs. But there are other aspects of this educational tech phenomenon that could be studied further. For example, a study that compares the challenges of MOOCs with their worthiness is of great addition to the MOOC literature.
Also a study that proposes a MOOC model in the context of Developing Countries would be a huge help for all – both learners and offers- since it is the people of these countries that the whole MOOC tech mania was intended for.
Aguaded-Gomez, I. (2013). The MOOC Revolution: A new form of education from the technological paradigm? Communicar , pp. 7-8.
Baggaley, J. (2013). MOOC rampant. Distance Education , 368-378.
Baggaley, J. (2013). REFLECTION: MOOC rampant. Distance Education , 368-378.
Daniel, J. (2012). Making sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility.
Seoul: Korean National Open University.
Haggard, S. (2013). The Maturing of the MOOC. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Kirp, D. L. (2013, September 23). TECH MANIA GOES TO COLLEGE. The Nation , pp. 12-17.
Shocken S. The self-organizing computer course [Internet]. [New York, USA]: TED, 2012 [updated 2012 October; cited 2013 May 28]. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/shimon_schocken_the_self_organizing_computer_course.html