Whither MOOCs?

As I’ve blogged many times before, readers will be aware that I am known to be slightly sceptical about some of the claims being made for MOOCs, that in themselves they will massively disrupt education. The most enthusiastic propagandists have even suggested that there will be only a tiny number of universities in the future. So having read lots about them, taken and completed a couple I still remained sceptical, which is always difficult when in a room of fervent believers, such as the recent UUK meeting in London.

In a recent essay I submitted (to a MOOC in fact) I argued how the technology used, say in Coursera, could be used to improve on campus student learning, and to enhance the student experience, but that they would not sound the death knell for universities in themselves.

Today (30th May), some great blog articles have appeared talking about the end of MOOCs, based partly on a recent press release from Coursera which states that “The big news is that we have begun working with 10 US state university systems and public schools to explore the possibilities of using MOOC technology and content to improve completion, quality, and access to higher education”

They even call it blended learning. Which we’ve heard of before.

David Kernohan points out that “Both disruptive action man Clayton Christensen and free-course behemoth Coursera have recently swung round to the idea of educational institutions not being broken, merely tired-looking”.

Martin Weller in an blog post entitled “You Can Stop Worrying About MOOCs Now” says:

“It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that MOOCs are rather retreating from their initial promise/threat of world domination here. They’re becoming a means of approaching elearning within traditional education systems. There’s a couple of possible reasons for this.

The first might be that those Venture Capitalists are now demanding a solid and quick return on their investment. The initial open model isn’t offering this any time soon, so a quicker route to pay back is to work with existing providers and students who are already paying.”

So once again, can I offer my usual opinion? Don’t rush into this just because lots of others have done so. Let’s work out what we can learn from MOOCs and other aspects of technology and apply it in a way to improve the prospects of students and the organisation. Not all bandwagons need to be chased.


(from http://iamnotjustafatgirl.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/jumping-on-the-bandwagon/)

More Thoughts on the HEPI/Which? report

The recent HEPI/Which? Report on student academic experience was reported on in these pages previously. Having downloaded the raw data, I’ve been having a look at a few of the factors, and compared Staffordshire University’s performance with a number of comparator institutions, and a couple of local Russell Group universities.

Firstly – average contact hours and amount of private study. Despite the worries often expressed about differences expressed in KIS on the Unistats website, there is very little variation in the number of contact hours averaged across all subject areas for all the universities under consideration. Adding in private study hours, students at Sunderland, Liverpool John Moores and Glyndwr appear to be doing the least amount of academic work.



Looking at value for money, where I have combined the percentages of students who say the course is “good value for money” and “very good value for money” and also “poor value for money” and very poor value for money”, then both Glyndwr and Sunderland appear again as those with the worst perceived value for money. Keele seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of the others, and interestingly the two RG universities do not seem to stand out particularly.



Looking at the number of students who agree that “I am satisfied with the amount of time-tabled sessions I have had this year then again those with the lowest satisfaction with this are the two are perceived to be the worst value, even when the timetabled hours are not significantly different.



So what about whether students would have chosen a different course? (it’s worth just noting how many left this question blank)




It’s difficult to draw sensible conclusions from the plethora of information provided – although that hasn’t stopped the press publishing lots of articles about the poor value of higher education. One thing does stand out for me though – the gap in perception about value for money and contact hours, students at institutions with the lowest perception of value for money are experiencing the same contact hours, but are putting in less private study.

A comment on the report when first published was around the QAA expectation of 10 hours of work per credit, and this is a subject I’ll return to in a later article and suggest some things we might do to bridge this gap and improve student attainment.

Open and online learning – Making the most of MOOCs and other models (pt3)

The third in a series of articles about last week’s UUK meeting on open and online learning.

Sir John Daniel (former VC of OU, adviser to Academic Partnerships)

Sir John is a believer in big – Mega universities, mega schools and MOOCs. He wrote a substantive paper about this last year,.

We can see education as a triangle with three sides – Access-Quality-Cost. It’s possible to reduce the cost but still get access and quality.

Sir John then compared Moore’s technology lifecycle with the Gartner technology hype cycle. He suggested that in the Moore’s lifecycle, we may be at the chasm between early adopters and early majority and on the Gartner cycle now near peak of inflated expectations.
From this he proposed that we could reach the trough of disillusion by end of this year or next and that through juxtaposition of these two models there could be a drop in MOOC activity
He believes that online learning essential and that providers must get with programme, but the question is how to climb the slope of enlightenment?


He proposed a hybrid model combining online with opportunities for f2f teaching and support and questioned whether offering MOOCs help this?

You will need help of a partner to climb the slope and Academic Partnerships ,to whom is an adviser, could do this.

He proposed Partnering for enlightenment with a MOOC as a taster of online learning but always aim of taking students to credit bearing online courses

Always an engaging speaker, Sir John clearly believes in the power of big, but importantly identifies also the idea of a hybrid model to support face to face teaching.

This picks up on other comments from VCs of Plymouth and Southampton where we can start to see MOOCs as just one part of the online learning ecosystem, and a possible way of supporting on campus students.

Even with all the hype though, it’s worth looking at the Educause paper I blogged about last week- some of the key questions that need to be asked are here, and shouldn’t be pushed aside under the avalanche of MOOC predictions.

Open and online learning – Making the most of MOOCs and other models (pt2)

The second session at the UUK event focused on key issues followed by a session on integration, quality and credit.

Emma Leach (Marketing, Nottingham University

This talk was from a marketing perspective, and raised a number of points:

All letters in MOOC are negotiable
Can university IT systems move quickly enough
What if you don’t have star faculty or technologies as clever as Google?
Alignment with strategy eg education without borders
How do we differentiate if late to market?
What strap lines and propositions are universities promoting with their MOOCs?
Ivy League selling education for all- strong focus on quality, so difficult for marketers to compete on brand


Challenges for marketing are:

  • Where do MOOCs fit into institutional strategy?
  • How to use MOOC to attract actual students?
  • What are the reputational benefits?
  • How could they be use for selecting students?
  • What about reputational risks – students have high expectations?
  • Brand positioning vs brand erosion?
  • Employability- what about when employers choose someone who has done a specific MOOC.?
  • Which subjects are we going to do and why, eg which have greatest market value?


Sian Bayne Edinburgh University

Sian was the module leader of the first MOOC that I took, so really interesting to hear her views as she spoke about her experiences of  “e-learning and Digital Cultures” (edcmooc) .

All the data regarding Edinburgh’s experiences are published here.

She discussed the pedagogy of edcmooc, showing the difference between xmooc and cmooc and showing that edcmooc tried c in x platform

In terns of course design, edcmooc was a curated MOOC space, with openly available videos and readings. An outcome was high level engagement with social media
There was sssue of deluge of activity – some liked it, others didn’t, and also an issue of teacher presence

Rob Cohen and Reed Talada (U2)

This was an extended advertisement for their company’s services. I took notes, but they are not repeatable.

Simon Nelson (CEO, FutureLearn)

Now this was a lot more interesting – this was the CEO of the UK MOOC platform, who have signed up a number of Russell Group universities and the Open University.

Not just about MOOCs but what happens when Internet collides with world of HE. Rumours of the death of HE are exaggerated in the short term. The internet is usually good for most people eg music books tv, but not necessarily good for established players and can lead to high level casualties eg HMV, Blockbusters and  Borders. (two of these companies were used as case studies in my recent course on “Surviving Disruptive Technologies”).
New patterns. platforms and people are suddenly getting lots of attention and decades of experience can seem irrelevant.

The choices are: “We need to do something” or,  “We don’t need to worry”.

The debate really comes down to understanding the pace of change and recognising that change is not a guarantee of success or survival.

The advice is to “Start early, fail fast.”

The future is still going to be highly competitive, but organisations still need to make the change and learn as an organisation and become better placed

Don’t worry about latest shiny stuff
We need to develop a holistic view of being digital – this means access and discovery on demand, multi device and platform, enhanced meta information, and then add the clever shiny stuff. Also need to include interactivity and participation, from not the only content creator so that you could showcase other content.

To be successful. do the basics brilliantly  – which are access, discovery and social. This means having to find new talent who understand digital while continuing to invest in all your people

He then went on to discuss the development of FutureLearn, without giving too much away about how the system might look:

  • A place where partners will experiment
  • Combine expertise of OU with BBC story telling
  • Small agile multi disciplinary team
  • Not just MOOCs but all online learning
  • With world class talent and content
  • Makes FutureLearn something different
  • Building for the digital moment, ie building learning around people’s lives
  • Ensuring portfolio of learning sits alongside all other digital life eg music books
  • Needs to be discoverable
  • Taking the learner on a journey and exciting them with high quality content
  • Bring the social web to learning. Social highly collaborative experience
  • User experience to be welcoming and exciting. Not just for educational elite
  • Integrate what we’ve learnt from TV and other media
  • Think there is much to it that MOOCs

In questions, Simon Nelson showed how they had chose the universities they wanted to work with in Future Learn. They looked at the league tables, and chose the ones at the top.

FutureLearn is going to be interesting to watch though – it has the backing of the Open University, I imagine some VC money, a lot of Russell Group universities and a charismatic CEO who has a track record of delivering a digital strategy.

Stephen Jackson (QAA)

A quick run through possible quality implications of MOOCs

QAA safeguards and assures standards. MOOCs which don’t attract credit are a separate matter. Once they attract credit they need QAA input to assure quality of provision and how students engage with them. Are students getting a proper deal from education and what happens when MOOCs are monetized

QA principles apply to all learning opportunities and modes of delivery, and the relevant chapters of the code are B1, B3 and B6, relating to input standards, engagement and output.

The QA issue to deal with will be the shelf life of MOOCs and the currency and accuracy of information, questioning how often are they updated?

Another MOOC completed

Yay – go me!

I just completed “Surviving Disruptive Technologies” a course by Prof Hank Lucas of University of Maryland, offered through Coursera.

Things I learnt from this:

  • some interesting ideas on how organisations deal with disruptive technologies
  • some interesting ideas on how to do video lectures that could be applied to on-campus learning
  • some really good ideas on formative peer assessment




Open and online learning – Making the most of MOOCs and other models (pt1)

Last week I attended this meeting promoted by Universities UK.  The meeting was to launch the publication of “Massive open online courses: higher education’s digital moment?”

This is one of  a number of posts based on my notes from the various speakers. In all cases, my thoughts are in italics.

David Willets (Minister of State for Universities and Science)

He was approaching this topic in the spirit of engagement and thinks that MOOCs are a big thing and significant in HE. He cited the Khan Academy who with 35 employees has now seen their 50millionth student. Venture capital investors think there will be one platform for delivering education, and Coursera want to be that worldwide platform, although it is likely there may be a range of platforms.

The Minster felt there were 4 areas of significance, each providing challenges and opportunities.

1 Quality of education. It is a big opportunity for improvement and enrichment for many people and may become more important part of educational process.
There is potential for educational analytics so that we can redesign process as needed in response to learner behaviour. This will harness skills of computer gaming industry particularly around engagement and flow. There is the possibility of more use of peer groups and peer learning. If peers assess fellow students, once 6 assessors are used, research shows that the peer marking reaches similar levels of accuracy as that by experienced educators.

2 Recruitment into more conventional courses. MOOCs could act as a form of disintermediation, removing the need for agents. Online courses could become a  taster for students and we could see potential recruits for our programmes. Alternatively agents could be used, charging a fee to get student onto online course. This could be very powerful internationally.

3 Challenge of domestic skills gaps. The Minister cited comments from the IT industry where it is sometimes felt that graduates in computer science do not have the skills wanted by industry, Could industry therefore fill this gap themselves by providing the online courses  for the skills that they need?
4 Credential or qualification for the award. Will employer recognise the outcomes of a MOOC? There are tech solutions for verification. Will we see credit emerging, maybe by educational system, or maybe by the industry. If the latter, then universities themselves will be disinter mediated. There is an opportunities for UK with its current HE reputation

The Minister stated that lots was happening and he was pleased about the development of FutureLearn. His unambiguous advice was to act now, as we needed a strong British presence and platforms.

I was pretty impressed with this introduction to the day – there was the usual amount of MOOC hubris, but David Willets had gone beyond many of the editorials produced by the venture capital companies and provided some clear thought of where and when MOOCs might be of use.

The reference to learning analytics is interesting – one thing that the current MOOC companies do is gather an awful lot of information about how their students are learning  enabling them possibly to refine their models. This is an area that  would be interesting for on campus students and their various engagements. The comments later from Wendy Purcell about building digital into all strategies echo this.

The comments around peer assessment are particularly interesting – in the online courses I have undertaken this year, peer assessment has been the only assessment  While I would not recommend this as being the only way to assess a module, there’s a lot that could be learned from the Coursera model of anonymous online peer assessment which could be used to support on campus students in formative assessments. As we all know, once you have to deal with the marking criteria and engagee with other learners, you very quickly learn what the tutor is actually looking for.

Martin Bean (Vice Chancellor Open University)

Prof Bean presented  a brief history of OER AND MOOCs and said that the combination of lots of money, lots of people and great brands creates an HE Napster moment.

He said the development of MOOCs was “scary as hell” but that there was nothing new about using technology of the day. The web lowers barrier to entry and let’s everybody play and means dramatically reduced delivery costs and allows for growth.

He also saw the opportunity to use MOOCs to change campus experience and the opportunity to for potential students to try out a university

Overall he said the debate is not between online and face to face teaching, , but great and bad teaching.
If a course is not credit bearing, who are we to say it doesn’t have value?

If you think this change is going away, you’re wrong. If you don’t want to play, then you need to predicate a strategy to cope

Drive value for free and drive value for fee and make sure you understand that boundary

Why are universities interested? To generate revenue, to gain additional students particularly transnational also level 0 programmes to fill skills gap, to fulfil university  missions and expand impact, to build brand and to stimulate innovation.

Prof Bean was hugely enthusiastic and a great speaker – however  much of what I heard seemed to be the usual MOOC hype, although in mitigation he is speaking from a real place of strength – if anyone understands what is happening and going to happen in online and distance learning it is the Open University!

The important takeaways here are the need for great teaching and the  need for universities to make sure that their strategies reflect the changes brought about by technology

Mark Taylor (Dean Warwick Business School)

Started by stating that Warwck had pioneered a d/l MBA 25 yrs ago with 1500 students at any one time.

He then stated that Napster changed the music industry, not destroyed it, so it was a disruptive innovation but very positive.

MOOCs etc could lead to an unbundling the current university offer of
Knowledge production
Disseminate knowledge
Student experience

MOOCs are mainly about knowledge dissemination, so their impact could be that different types of universities may evolve, There was therefore a place for traditional university in providing the signalling.

He cited the benefits of MOOCs as: philanthropic; commercialisation; brand recognition; recruitment; accreditation of learning; licensing; sponsorship, and the impact on campus teaching

He saw that the benefits of e-learning were to: address WP agenda; possible year zero and to withstand variations in visa policies

The emerging issues were:  effects on structure of university;  effect on traditional delivery- use a MOOC instead of lecture; who does the student develop relationship with- provider or uni; will one platform develop and is it real learning or edutainment. And finally, why would an academic need to be at a university to deliver a MOOC?

Interesting– this was not the only time that MOOCs were proposed as a possible solution for year zero or foundation programmes. I can see that working, if, and only if, significant face to face teaching is also provided – we are talking here about the students who are least well prepared for higher education, and the pedagogies that are used in the MOOCs I have seen are not going to be at all suitable for the nervous or inexperienced learner.


Wendy Purcell VC of Plymouth University

She questioned how universities could respond, noting that tech developments usually follow a cycle of enthusiast to projects to embedded practice.

In 2008 Plymouth included digital in the University strategy. For the 2020 strategy, digital is completely embedded, which meant that they needed to view everything across institution in terms of digital strategies and questioning: what it is doing for student offer; what is it doing for the academic offer, and what about top team?

Student offer- what does tomorrow’s student want/need/value? Students of 2020 are 11 today. The new normal is personalised and experiential, enabling talent to express itself, producing digital graduates for a digital society.

Academic offer- recognising students as partners, and moving from transaction to transformation, leading to an enriched experience and engaged learners using accessible blended learning environments and communities.  Good teachers will use all the tools available to them. Real positioning of teaching and pedagogy as key activity

Senior team- digital strategy, appointed a CIO, digital built into academic review and curriulum enrichment.

Plymouth viewed disruption as positive and that it was not an either/or, but a both/and agenda and was seen as critical to success as an edgeless university.

This was an enjoyable presentations – the main takeaway here is – digital HAS to be at the centre of all of a university’s strategies.


Professor Don Nutbeam Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton

Prof Nutbeam started by asking “Clicks not bricks – is this the end of the campus? If content is free who would pay £9k?”

Smart universities will use MOOCs to add to options for on campus and will use them to advance innovations in teaching and to expand markets. The Challenge is to optimise campus experience by embracing digital and freeing up timetable to give higher quality contact time so this is a process of acceleration of evolving change, not the seismic revolution promised by some.

However it is possibly  the end of the lecture. Universities can release time to develop highly prized transferable skills and provide more time for lab and practical work

Southampton see it as more choice and flexibility for students, with greater choice of access to modules and choice of modules to personalise education. This might accelerate change to major/minor structure.

He foresaw the possible development of federations of universities providing articulated degrees and providing different modules. This will lead to continued change in evolution of campuses and learning and social spaces and will need a review of the definition of a contact hour!!

This talk picked up on some of my views of how MOOCs and other online systems could be used. There is scope for redefining what we do for on campus learners, and a resultant impact on the estate needed by universities. It was interesting to see the comment on definition of contact hours, particullary in the light of the recent HEPI report which picked this up as an issue.

Interestingly, my final essay for the online course I have just completed was on the impact of MOOCs as a disruptive technology on  a UK university. Many of my essay ideas are similar to those of  Prof Nutbeam, so I am in good company!

The Which? HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey

Driving into work this morning, Radio 4’s Today programme had an item on this publication  jointly provided by Which? and HEPI. The news programme focused on the number of contact hours received by students  and how this related (or not as the case may be  to quality. The other assertion was that as students are now paying more for their higher education, their expectations have gone up.

Before looking at the report in more detail, just a couple of criticisms of the BBC coverage – there is no relationship between contact hours and quality, and although students are borrowing more to pay for their education, universities do not receive any significant increase in funding overall.

Right, rant over, let’s look at what the report actually contains. (from HEPI website)


Contact hours are important to students and in the 2013 survey, the great majority of students were satisfied regardless of how much contact they received but within this overall general satisfaction, those with the least contact were least satisfied. Universities that do not satisfy students about the amount of contact they provide will have more dissatisfied students.

Students were asked for priorities for the use of the additional fees they now pay. Increasing contact with staff together with reductions in the size of teaching groups were the two options whose mention had increased over the years more than any others.

Students who have term-time employment are marginally more likely on average to miss time-tabled lessons (9% compared to 7.2% among those who did not have employment). Considering the evidence that students with term-time employment tend to do less well in their studies than others, this will be of concern if the new funding arrangements lead to more students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds taking such employment.

The QAA guidelines assume that a full-time student at a UK university studies for a total of 1200 hours per year (with the QAA judging that 10 hours of study provides one credit and a three year honours degree requires 120 credits per year for 3 years). The implications of the findings of the 2013 survey (which are consistent with the findings from earlier HEPI surveys) is that on average students at English universities study for no more than 900 hours per year ie students study for less than 3/4; of the time that is expected for a degree programme. This suggests that on average the standards of degrees are not as has been assumed – or that the calibration of a credit against 10 hours of study needs to be reconsidered.



interesting to see the variations by subject, and whether the comment above about the validity of the idea of 10 hours per credit applies equally.

There is a large variation between those universities that require the most and those that require the least amount of effort in any one subject. In addition, the findings also reveal that there are many institutions where formal lessons are relatively few and that is not compensated by the amount of private study required – which raises again the question about the comparability of standards between these institutions. It is unlikely that on average students studying for less than half the time studied by other students in the same subject will achieve the same outcomes but almost all obtain degrees, no matter the differences in the amount of studying they have done.

Nearly one third of the students surveyed said they would definitely or possibly have chosen a different course if they had been given the chance, with a significantly larger proportion of students from new universities saying so than old (which is not surprising given that so many more students enter new universities through clearing than others and by definition such students are not entering courses they had chosen to enter). This points to the importance of reforming the admissions process to create a better match between student aptitude and course selection.


The full report is available here, and for those who want to look at some interesting interactive tools, then the Which? website provides a comparison tool for contact hours where variations between subjects and institutions can be explored.


  • How can students be guided to look beyond just the headline KIS contact hour figures, to understand better the type of tuition and support that they will receive?
  • Do we need to rethink the way in which we set student-directed learning, to ensure that enough work is being done by individuals to meet the QAA expectations?
  • Who fancies downloading the original SPSS file and doing a bit of benchmarking work?


Educause provide loads of resources around the uses of technology in education, and here’s a briefing note on the questions to ask about MOOCs. I wish I had read this months ago, it might have saved a lot of other reading!

The article provides a quick summary of what a MOOC is, who the major players are but crucially what are the questions that need to be asked:

Why jump on the MOOC bandwagon?
Possibilities include: for outreach and exper- imentation, to extend the brand, and to gain institutional experience with emerging forms of instruction. Ultimately MOOCs may become a source of revenue to drive down costs while open- ing access to learning.

What is our institutional capacity to deliver a MOOC?
MOOCs require investment. Whether the MOOC is self-hosted or offered through a commercial platform, integrated course support is required. Support requirements include:
? Technical (e.g., videography, editing, graphic design)
? Instructional (e.g., instructional design, teaching assistant support)
? Library (e.g., resource discovery, copyright clearance)
Institutions intending to self-host MOOCs will need a sophisticated, highly scalable LMS-like platform, the ability to effectively market the courses, and the capacity to offer technical sys- tem support remotely and at scale.

Where do MOOCs fit into our institution’s e-learning strategy?
MOOCs should fit in the overall portfolio of course offerings. Do they complement or substi- tute for current course models? And if MOOCs are not an option, will faculty with stature, confidence, and teaching experience go outside the institution to offer a MOOC?

As now I’ve started reading some of the Educause research papers, you’ll all be delighted to know I’m developing a new techie obsession- learning analytics.

Wigan Athletic – FA Cup Winners

It has to be done, a quick article with tortuous parallels between university performance and Wigan’s defeat of Manchester City in the FA Cup Final this weekend.


Like most English people, I’ll support the underdog, and especially when that underdog is a team up against a collection of expensive thoroughbreds.

As Prof Patrick McGhee (former VC of UEL and former head of million+) said on Twitter, “Annoying when large parts of Wembley are empty due to millionaires not turning up. But that’s the Man City midfield for you”

This was obviously a fairytale football match, with the expected winners struggling to play and with the winning goal in added time for Wigan, but it shows a few of things which translate nicely to universities:

  • you can still be a great success, despite what the league table says
  • having a chairman who believes in you is important
  • having the whole community believing in you is powerful
  • great managers get results


As Roberto Martinez would write – “Sin Miedo”.

(and yes, I do know what team my VC supports….)

This week’s MOOCtastic news.

As usual the Times Higher and other outlets carry a a number of articles about MOOCs. The question has to be when will the topic cease to be newsworthy? Presumably when every little university (see previous post) has got one?

Firstly, I picked up on Twitter that Edge Hill University have launched a MOOC in Vampire Fictions with the claim that this is the first worldwide that potentially offers 20 credits.

Module leader Dr Ben Brabon, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and SOLSTICE Learning and Teaching Fellow, has spearheaded the development of this ground-breaking credit-bearing MOOC. Dr Brabon said: “There has been much debate on the impact of MOOCs on Higher Education. There is no denying that MOOCs are going to play an important role in the delivery of degree programmes over the coming years. In this respect, we are adopting a pioneering approach by validating our first MOOC on a subject within the Humanities with the option to gain credit. There’s nothing else quite like it in the world at the moment and ultimately we’re looking to provide more choice in the MOOC market, improve the student learning experience of MOOCs and also showcase to a global audience the outstanding courses we have to offer at Edge Hill University.”

“What’s so great about our MOOC format is that students can test the waters for free and if they like learning at this level, they can opt to take an assessment for a small fee and gain credit for their work. The credit that they earn on the course can be used as part of a degree at Edge Hill or recognised as offering prior learning credit for studies at another institution. It’s a concept that allows for flexible learning opportunities and the chance to become part of a unique global learning experience.”

I’m not sure they can guarantee that credits will be used in recognition of prior learning schemes – the waters have not been tested on this yet. The interesting aspect of this proposal is that “proper”” credit will be available, meaning potential massive workloads in marking. Also, the university is not using one of the big companies (hardy surprising since they are known to be choosy about who they will work with) and are using Blackboard CourseSites to deliver the course.

And the subject? Well in a week when a Foundation Degree in Heavy Metal was launched, a reminder that all aspects of culture are valid topics for study.

Moving onto the Higher, four more universities (Sheffield, Glasgow, Loughborough and Strathclyde have joined FutureLearn, the UK MOOC provider led by Open University.

MOOC completion rates are shown to be below 7%,in new research by Katy Jordan

Although she acknowledged that many people would benefit from taking a course even if they did not reach the end, she said completion rates were indicative of how successful a course had been.

“People might have no intention of completing assessment when they register, but I don’t agree that completion rates are entirely meaningless.”

This has prompted a number of online comments where  it is recognised that some may take the course with no intention of completing the assessment.

Another article questions whether the existence of MOOCs, and availability of materials from top academics s at Yale etc will have an impact on FE colleges and sixth forms, with them losing students to the technology. I think we’re back in the realms of hyperbole again. Surely the answer is “no”.

Finally in THE, a piece about comments made by Martha Kanter, the US undersecretary of education on appraisal of MOOCs, She identified three areas for research and appraisal:

  • the need to assess the impact and efficacy of these innovations with discipline and rigour.
  • the need for careful analysis of the reach and apparent value of Moocs in serving those currently outside the system. 
  • the issue that many households lack internet access because of the cost of connectivity and sustained use.

And the last comment on MOOCs this week – I’ve submitted the final assessment for my Coursera course on Surviving Disruptive Technologies. Having scored well in the mid-term assignment, I have high hopes for the case study I’ve prepared on the impact of MOOCs and other education technology on a teaching-led UK university.