Blackmon, S.J. & Major, C.H. (2017). Wherefore art thou MOOC?:…
Blackmon, S.J. & Major, C.H. (2017). Wherefore art thou MOOC?: Defining massive open online courses.
, 21(4), 195-221.
I enjoyed reading the article and reading about the study conducted by Blackmon and Major. The only experience I have with massive open online courses (MOOCs) is with Moodle, the learning management system. The training to become Moodle certified is hosted in the MOOC format. My knowledge base was minimal before reading the article. I appreciated the development of the typology tool that was used to collect data concerning the courses. I think the study was limited in that only 30 courses were included in the study, I think a larger number of courses should be examined to zone in on differences and similarities for general basis. I was surprised to discover that many MOOCs charge money fees and many offer certificates of completion. This leads me thinking I wonder how employers and universities view the validity of certificates from MOOCs. Also, I am questioning instructor involvement in these courses or are assessments computer graded. I appreciated the article shed some light on the classification of MOOCs, and offered insight into the varied nature of the MOOCs. I see the importance of classifying the MOOCs, and there should be standards or guidelines in place for the creation of MOOCs. When comparing MOOCs to distance education courses (online courses), I can not put the course types on the same level unless there is an alignment of learning objectives, learning materials, and assessments. I was also surprised by the large estimates presented concerning how many MOOCs are planned or exist. Blackmon and Major come across issues during the study attempting to determine class size. I am curious about the class sizes of the various MOOCs. In distance education courses (online courses) it is suggested by many to have 20-30 students in a course for optimal learning experiences. I am also curious about the learning materials and assessments in these courses that were sampled and in the MOOCs in general. I am wondering if the learning materials and assessments are similar to what you find in an online course hosted by a college or university.
First Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
In the late 2000s, the first MOOCs started with Canadian professors teaching online courses from on campus (p.195).
Next, a few for profits established MOOCs offerings. For example, Coursera and Udacity (p.195).
Also, a few non profits started offering MOOCs such as edX (p.195).
"MOOCs have become fairly commonplace in higher education over the last decade" (p.195).
The article reported almost 4,000 MOOCs planned for 2016 and 1500 free courses and 102 new developed MOOCs planned for 2017 (p.195).
Defining features of MOOCs
Blackmon and Major summarized four defining features of MOOCs. The features included massive, open, online, courses (p.195-196).
"Researchers and educators need to understand the potential variations for these courses in order to fully understand their potential for higher education" (p.196).
Three areas of MOOC research are pedagogical, technological, and organizational (p.196-197).
"Having a system of classification would allow researchers going forward to ask more nuanced questions about pedagogical, technological, and organizational aspects and study interactions between different features and elements of MOOCs in these key areas" (p.197).
Earlier Classifications for MOOCs
Clark (2013) developed a classification system with eight categories. The categories include synchMOOCs, asynchMOOCs, transferMOOCs, adaptiveMOOCs, madeMOOCs, miniMOOCs, connectivistMOOCs, groupMOOCs (p.197-198).
Siemens' (2012) used pedagogy to develop a classification structure of cMOOCs and xMOOCs (p.198).
Siemens (2014) based classification on connectivist pedagogy. Principles include "Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions" and "Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources" (p.198).
"Downes, an early pioneer of MOOCs, coined the term xMOOCs. He suggested that xMOOCs are based on traditional pedagogy and traditional university courses" (p.199).
Carole (2013) classified MOOCs using degrees of low, medium, and high. For example, "the degree of openness, the scale of participation" (p.199).
Methods of study
This study focused on two questions. The first question is "along what lines do MOOCs differ from each other?" and the second question is "what patterns of offerings are evident in the data?" (p.199).
Blackmon and Major (2017) developed a typology they could use as a tool for classification of MOOCs (p.199).
Table 1 on page 200 displays the typology for classification as an example. The dimensions include affiliation, size, accessibility, duration, timing, relation to knowledge, content, structure, authority and control, and pedagogy.
Blackmon and Major (2017) mentioned they chose 30 sample courses for the study from a list of MOOC providers to maximize variation. The courses of focus were from different fields and disciplines (p.200).
Blackmon and Major used the typology they developed in examination of each of the 30 courses. They were able to analyze the public information for each course (p.201).
Blackmon and Major stated "The basis of our efforts at trustworthiness include triangulation. We used multiple data sources for each MOOC from multiple MOOC providers. For example, we reviewed the general websites for each MOOC, the syllabi, and available video content" (p.202).
Blackmon and Major (2017) provided the course descriptions of the courses used in the study exactly as presented on the course's website (p.217-221).
Results from study
Blackmon and Major (2017) present the results organized by typology categories (p.202-210).
"Company based MOOC tends to use fixed readings, whereas some of the independently offered MOOCs work from a less content centered model, and thus content emerges as the course progresses" (p.210).
"Often those persuing the MOOC lists were offered the option to audit a course for free or pay (prices varied) for certification" (p.211). The free for audit courses may or may not show all assessments.
"Most of the courses from a particular company employed a similar pedagogical approach" (p.210).
"There is also the matter of MOOC size. Unless instructors and providers have caps for MOOC size, it can be quite difficult to know what the size of a MOOC will be before, and even during, the offering of the course" (p.211).
"The data showed that several xMOOCs are highlighting interactive components in their course descriptions, which may come as a surprise to those who anecdotally refer to xMOOCs as non-interactive spaces" (p.211).
"MOOC instructors and MOOC learners could benefit from a more detailed description of courses" (p.212).
"MOOCs are not a singular entity, and the more those who seek to create and deliver MOOCs think through these variations and ways to adjust or enhance them, the more robust the conversation will be related to leveraging them for greater educational purposes" (p.212).