Businessman drawing Online Education conceptOnline education had been there for decade at various institutions. For-profit organizations like the University of Phoenix began online programs as early as the 1980s. However, the new MOOCs ventures sparked high interest due to prestigious names like Harvard, MIT and Stanford, the sheer numbers and high diversity of enrollment, advanced technology and the fact they provide courses free of cost. Even being on board with such giant names, high profile idea for learning that is highly suitable for technology savvy learners and teachers, MOOCs are not going to be the right for many organizations, and this is something I have also demonstrated in some of my previous posts. What are the reasons behind? Why MOOCs that debuted in online education market with such a grace and prestige, and rose to its peak in no time, still found to be less productive in many institutions? Why do still many businesses and institutions show reluctance towards its adoption? Is there lacking on the part of MOOCs structure, the technology or the executers? Let’s explore in this article.

Some editors argue that though MOOCs are learning tools, and they might also be less expensive than traditional courses, they are not essentially for all students and should be studied closely. This is the point towards the lacking of diversity aspect in MOOC structure. As out topic suggests, either you adapt and change or die, unless MOOC is designed in a way that is result oriented for all learners in a group, in accordance with their social, economic, financial and learning demographics, you can’t expect a MOOC to deliver the desired results[1]. Hence, the lacking here is not in the MOOC itself, but in its design. MOOC designers are critical for the success of the course.

Critics also argue that courses might appeal just motivated and high achieving students, and are most effective for these kinds, in spite MOOC ventures’ boasts that they make learning more accessible. Some worry students don’t get much personalized attention online, but others say that many institutions both academic and corporate, hold big classes taught at sky rocketed fee, hence MOOC are better at least even in cost. In this case, again, the point is of design. If the design is not personalized, able-to-be-updated when needed, and according to the learners’ preferences, MOOC is eventually going to die[2].

Let’s explore a case from Coursera. The firm once offered a MOOC “Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application”. This course, as per students’ reviews by far, is disaster and a mess. Ironically, the course was focused on the learning outcome in terms of developing your own online course[3]. To be honest, I found certain good points in the course, but there are various factors that contribute to a frustrating course experience for the learners.

Group Chaos

There are three major factors that led to course calamity. These all are linked to the group assignment. The first is the technical glitch, which led to the crash of one of Google’s servers. Another that led to considerable distress to learners is the lack of instructions for the group activity and assignments. Third, the clarity on the purpose and objective of the groups was missing[4].

Adapting & Changing the Design- MOOC

Developing and facilitating the group activities in small digital classrooms can be quite effective in developing a meaningful and effective learning experiences, and is supportive to the social dimensions, which leads to making a positive and constructive online learning community. The design of an effective MOOC contains successful group activities, which are[5]:

  • Detailed and clear instructions
  • A thought description of the assignment purpose, defining why a group project is needed and not an individual one. Showing how the learner will benefit is a trick that can highly contribute to achieve lofty level of motivation
  • Access to the technical tools that can effectively back group collaboration, i.e. a dedicated discussion site for every group (various LMS platform support this dedicated group space)

Group work can be a meaningful learning in the right context with the support of a sound and updated instructional strategy. There must be a change and the change for better. MOOCs of today are different than those in the past. They need a different and interesting instructional strategy, the one that is exclusively made taking into mind the small online class. What exactly to be followed by the strategy is never constant. It is to be backed by continuous research in accordance with the learners’ feedback, learners’ progress and latest and most effective technological trends[6]. This is we call design; a design of the MOOC that can either alive the learning experience or make it die. The choice is ours.

[1] file:///C:/Users/NLN/Desktop/100%20videos%20work/6023-13249-2-PB%20(1).pdf
[5] Lao, S. Y. (2013). Influence of MOOC to higher education at post it era. Journal of Higher Educaton Research, (03)
[6] Fisher. D. (2012). Warming up to MOOCs. Chronicle of Higher Education, (06).

Copyright 2016 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.
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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.