Part I – How did this happen?

2005: George Siemens + Stephen Downes + blogosphere = Connectivism

2007: ALISON (Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online) - no US affiliations, more about workplace skills, so not much press.

2008: Seimens and Downes decide to put Connectivism into practice and create the first recognized MOOC – CCK08 (Connectivism and Connective Knowledge).


ai.JPG 2011: Dr. Thrun and Dr. Norvig decide to open up their beginning AI to world. At one point 160,000 people are enrolled. Below is a video clip from one of the lessons.

2012: Dr. Thrun was so excited about the AI experience that he left Stanford and started Udacity There are no time constraints for Udacity courses and as of today they offer about 20 different classes.
2012: Coursera. Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng of Stanford offer the platform to universities and host their MOOC offerings. The majority of course offerings are time based and about 65 universities provide classes through Coursera.
2012: edX. Outgrowth of MITx (2011) and MIT’s long established OpenCourseWare program. Smaller number of universities than Coursera, but focused on MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley. Course offereings are time dependent.
For a more comprehensive timeline of the MOOC phenomenon, visit “What You Need to Know About MOOCs” at The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Although this time line does seem to leave out Siemens and Downes for some inexplicable reason.)
Part II - Physiology of MOOCs – cMOOC vs. xMOOC

cMOOC – Connectivist model

  • Semi-structured, instructor provides overall topic and a few course readings and materials.
  • Students decide which platform they wish to use for learning: blogs, Facebook, reddit, Twitter, wikis, Moodle, etc.
  • Students bring own knowledge and interests to extend the topic.
  • Students form personal learning networks (PLNs) and knowledge webs to further explore their particular areas of interest relating to the overall topic.
  • Knowledge is shared with others taking the course via Web 2.0.
  • There is a beginning date but no true end date – it is expected participants will continue discussions and learning after the basics of the course have been completed.

xMOOC – (Udacity, edX, Coursera)
  • Instructor provides the learning materials, delivery is usually through video lectures.
  • Instructor provides assignments, many of which are peer-graded.
  • Learning networks are established via course wiki, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social sites.
  • Except for Udacity, there is a beginning date and end date.
  • Certificates can be earned based on percentage of points received for course assignments, quizzes, and exams.

MOOC Business Model
  • Job placement fee (Coursera and Udacity)
  • Charge student for certificate
  • Charge student for credit
  • Advertisements

Part III - Outliers: other interesting open source resources with implication for education.

Part IV - Why this matters to UNLV faculty and students
CSU Global Campus now accepts transfer credit for a Udacity course, as do schools in Austria and Germany (The Chronicle of Higher Education).American Council on Education will begin to evaluate MOOCs for college credit.
Part V - What do you think?
  • Free
  • Access to top professors in their respective fields.
  • Students can choose what they want to learn, when they want to learn it. Not based on prerequisites. Possibly a framework for modular education.
  • Develop PLNs that can result in continued knowledge growth.
  • Learning Analytics - lots of data to help identify misconceptions and student learning.
  • Cause instructors and faculty to reflect on ‘what practices make for effective learning’.
  • Marketing opportunities for colleges and universities.
  • Democratization of Education
  • Khadijah Niazi (Thomas Friedman interviews her,starts at 4:53) (“MOOCs will bring peace to the world.”)
  • The number of people in a course can be overwhelming! How does someone connect with 2000+ people?
  • Less one-on-one contact with instructor, less feedback, less interactive, high dropout rate.
  • Some students need expert support: "sharing erroneous information and other shortcomings of peer-to-peer coaching"
  • Quality of learning videos + quizzes not enough. MOOCs need better learning design. MOOCs have extremely high dropout rate (>90%).
  • Demands on time: both planning and teaching.
  • Intellectual Property Rights, Risk, Cost, Reimbursement
  • Won't directly generate revenue unless you charge for certificates. Requires investment - faculty time, resources.
  • How are universities recognizing and/or differentiating paying students attending their courses vs. non-paying students attending their MOOC courses...should the MOOC course be less of an experience or is it a chance for the university to reach out and try to recruit the student into a formal program of study?
  • Universities also need to address issues regarding accreditation, competition, and evaluation.