Matt Lingard's blog

MOOCs & the Real Challenge

Report from the Westminster HE Forum: MOOCs and technology‐enhanced learning: next steps and challenges (PDF) on Tuesday 21st October.

Towards the end of this event the conversation moved off MOOCs and onto online learning more generally which was most welcome. But let’s deal with MOOCs briefly before moving on to some challenges ahead.

Despite the passage of time (18-months), which includes the launch of Future Learn, this morning it didn’t feel like the conversation around MOOCs had changed much since I blogged my report (7 things about MOOCs & UK HE) from a UUK May 2013 event. OK, that’s a bit unfair, the hype has certainly died down.

Photo of Glaziers Hall
Event held at Glaziers Hall – Credit: View from London Bridge by Clive A Brown (CC BY-NC)

The last session of today’s event was where the real challenges ahead were aired. This was the best session with the panelists, in particular @bobharrisonset & @HelenBarefoot, as well as @MarkRussell from the floor, making important points which might be paraphrased as:

  • Online is central in the future of education
  • MOOCs may be one small part of that but they shouldn’t be the focus of our discussion or actions now.
  • We need to focus on both capacity- and capability-building to ensure our institutions are in a position to deliver online education (whatever off-campus / on-campus blend that may be).
  • Three key area to address are staff digital and online teaching skills, student digital and online learning skills and our institutional processes (which are generally set-up for campus-based, single entry, fixed period courses rather than online provision).
  • This will require strong governance and leadership.
  • It is a big cultural not technological challenge.

And Finally

A couple more things from today:

  1. Amara‘s Law – highlighted by @urbangenie “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”
  2. HEA’s Flexible Pedagogies reports highlighted by @AlisonLeCornu

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