The Open University have recently released a report on Innovating Pedagogy exploring “new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world“. The report quite rightly contains sections on MOOCs and Badges to accredit learning. Badges are seen as having potentially high impact in the next 2-5 year.
“Badges appear to offer a natural match to Open Educational Resources. These currently lack the context and drivers of accredited material. If they are used for self-study then assessment is optional and the learner chooses which topic to follow next. Badges can return some of the structure and reward that is needed to keep learners on track.“
Badges have great potential – I touched on this in my Badge On: Open Assessment post.
Unfortunately for me, despite all my work on the Introduction to Openess in Education MOOC I haven’t received a badge. It’s not that I haven’t earnt it; I’ve written posts on all the modules and have met all the criteria for the OpenEd Overview course badge. I am not aware of a time restriction on the course either. It’s more a case of nobody has awarded me the badge yet and I don’t quite know what to do about it. The system seems some what flawed.
There hasn’t been a lot of interaction taking place during the MOOC, something I was surprised by, but I have had some contact with fellow student Jeroen Breman (@jeroen69). He was awarded a badge earlier on in the year and so I sent him a tweet to ask how he’d managed it.
His response was:
Jeroen had been emailing David Wiley too.
This was important feedback. Jeroen finished by saying:
I promised to write about my experience of taking the course, so here goes. I want to be fair and open in my comments – it seems the only approach to take given the nature of the course…
The course content was, on the whole, interesting; though it was very US and Wiley focussed. It would have benefitted from more video content (but possibly shorter videos – nobody has the time to watch 2 hour videos, though they could manage 10 minutes – occasionally participants were instructed to “watch the first 20 minutes”). Maybe the course could also have offered a more rounded view by suggesting links to resources that give an opposing opinion. There also was no introduction to each of the resources, no ‘map’ of how they fit together and no questions to consider. Following up on all the suggested links was very time consuming. Some of the recommended reading was 50+ page documents and it was difficult to justify the time to read them. The whole coures took a lot longer to plough through than I initially thought it would. A little more guidance wouldn’t have gone amiss.
What can I say? Things started out well, the site looked well organised and my name was swiftly added to the participant list. Although interaction was encouraged (by commenting on blog posts) it wasn’t facilitated in anyway and I ended up concentrating on the resources rather than reading other people’s posts. By the end of the course the majority of people had dropped out so there weren’t even many posts to read! It all seemed like a good idea in theory but…
Not receiving my badge hasn’t helped. I would really have liked to have practical experience of receiving a badge and embedding it in a site. As Jeroen says, you lose your motivation to carry on.
Barriers to MOOCs
Phil Hill has written a recent post listing Four Barriers That MOOCs Must Overcome To Build a Sustainable Model. His barriers are:
- Developing revenue models to make the concept self-sustaining;
- Delivering valuable signifiers of completion such as credentials, badges or acceptance into accredited programs;
- Providing an experience and perceived value that enables higher course completion rates (most today have less than 10% of registered students actually completing the course);
- Authenticating students in a manner to satisfy accrediting institutions or hiring companies that the student identify is actually known.
I’d have to agree that points 2 & 3 have been real issues for me.
In response to the post Stephen Downes says “What I read from this is that in order to be successful, MOOCs need to be like traditional learning. But what if they don’t? What if it’s traditional learning that needs to change“. He says that we need:
- to get past certificates or degrees (data-mining a person’s record tells us everything we need to know),
- to get past completion anxiety (go in, get what you need, get out; programs are for computers, courses are for horses)
OK – so it now seems to be my problem…but actually I’m fairly tech savvy, I work in a remote environment, I am familiar with online learning, I was motivated to do the course…. So if I feel a little short-changed then god knows what everyone else must be feeling.
It seems to me that open education is a move in the right direction, but it still has a lot to work out. Traditional models of learning don’t always work, but they are tried and tested and people know what they are getting. With open education there are times when you might not be getting what you expected, but then an argument could be made that you are still getting a free and open education. However education requires effort by both the learner and the ‘teacher/facilitator’ so it’s never totally free! People don’t want to put the effort in and then find they haven’t learnt what they’d hoped to learn and have nothing to show for it. It’s like children at the dentists, the odd few don’t care but the majority feel a lot happier after they get their well done sticker. It helps motivate them to come back next time.
I am really glad I completed the #ioe12 MOOC, I feel a little wiser about quite a few things. However I think we still have a lot more learning to do before we get there…