I didn’t want to write about these things but the hype doesn’t seem to be subsiding, although slowly others are starting to criticise them. This, this and this are recent examples of such criticisms and I’m sure there are many more.
See the problem is that these things, are still just courses, plain old boring and irrelevant courses. The adage of 21st Century Learning (aside: don’t hassle me about using that term) isn’t “I want to learn something I guess I better find a course to enrol in,” rather “I want to learn something, who can I learn with?”
Think of your passions, think of the things you’re great at, I bet the mastery you have developed wasn’t learnt in a course. The people running these courses, I bet they didn’t learn what they’re teaching from a course (and if they did I bet the course sucks even more!) Do we really believe that while we don’t need courses to learn, others do? Does a course teach the necessary life-long learning skills that are required in a world that is constantly changing or does it make us even more dependent on those running the courses?
See the “C” they should have used is community.
The ability for self-directed learners to learn with others in learning communities – that’s where the innovation is. That’s where the new opportunities lie. That’s where the magic is. And that’s where our priorities and educators should lie.
And while we’re talking about innovation, massive might be massive when we’re talking about courses but it is certainly not massive compared to other online self-directed learning, Udacity’s numbers don’t compare with learning happening on Twitter and Facebook. And open? There is far more about openness than being free. Courses by the very nature of their closed curriculum aren’t open. These courses aren’t the kind of open that we need. These courses aren’t the kind of open that learners want. They are about control. They are about owning the learner. They are about owning the curriculum. They are about owning the assessment and about owning the accreditation. They are about control, simple control, and the exact opposite of open.
The sooner MOOCs go the way of learning objects, for that’s where their origins lie, the better. Learning objects were found to be hollow, and unable to deliver on the promises that were made about them. The sooner MOOCs follow suit, the better.