Talking MOOCs in 2019?

April 9, 2019 Off By JR

So here’s an interesting thread that cross my Twitter feed the other day

What followed was a some replies asking if he was being serious (did George lose his marbles?), some outright refuted him, and those in the open ed community I saw reject this idea but strictly through the lens of the open ed (MOOCs aren’t really open! or bringing out the tired x vs c MOOC comparison). If you take a look at George’s reply to Martin Weller’s comment you see that this comment isn’t really about MOOCs but about a mindset and target audience shift.

Sure, I’ve seen a whole bunch of universities also effectively burn cash making MOOCs. Some outsourced development and helped private interests grow. Others build some capacity within and then abandoned the projects, resulting in IDs out of work. The courses for the large part are not innovative, and reflect 1920s distance ed ideals. There’s a LOT to criticize when it comes to MOOCs themselves. But George’s point is about the students and universities response to a growing need both for learners as well as the institutions. Continuing Ed.

CPL and CE have been on my mind a lot lately. Over the past year I’ve tried to look for programs that will increase skills that will hopefully help me to develop better and better online courses for a variety of contexts. Being located in the middle of Canada, there aren’t a lot of local programs for someone like me, who works full time. No, I don’t want another full Bachelor’s degree. No, I don’t want to have to leave work during the day to attend what will surely be boring lectures. No, I don’t want to have to take an educational leave to go to Ontario for months on end to attend classes in person. No, I don’t want a MOOC either. Although, if you look at my CV, a lot of Lifelong Learning items are actually from MOOCs.

Overall, Canada does a terrible job of creating programs for workers who are looking to upskill and maybe not move up in their institution, but rather have lateral movement, or to get into a higher pay and accountabilities bracket in their current role. If the programs do exist, what I’ve seen is that trying to figure out the availability and program requirements are really tough to locate or parse (website navigation is awful in most cases), or that the programs are only available in F2F settings. So while there are higher ed institutions that wasted money on MOOCs, the ones that came at it from the angle of “we need to serve an up and coming, non-traditional student population” (the students George is talking about) might fare better.

I hope continuing ed is a space Canadian institutions do a better job of developing for. For the benefit of working Canadians.