The future of Mooc’s is yet to be decided and there are some interesting options on how they will evolve.
One of them is whether they will be offering certified diplomas in future. To do so they encounter a few problems. First of all there’s plagiarism. Odd enough, with no official certificates to gain yet, students seem to cheat! When I entered the EdcMooc I had to agree with the code of honour. I asume the cheating students had to do so as well, so obviously the honour code is no guarantee at all because there has been a lot of cheating going on in some other online course. ( not mine ofcourse…there are only nice people in edcmooc 😉
Second problem is how do you know the person subscribing to the course is really the person they claim to be?
I might have seen to many dystopian movies with dehumanizing technological advancements but my imagination ran away with me when I read about the new device Coursera came up with to counter that problem : the so called “Signature Track”, a digital identification device with a lot of benefits, thus states Coursera:
- Identity Verification. Create a special profile to link your coursework to your real identity using your photo ID and unique typing pattern.
- Verified Certificates. Earn official recognition from Universities and Coursera for your accomplishment with a verifiable electronic certificate.
- Sharable Course Records. Share your electronic course records with employers, educational institutions, or anyone else through a unique, secure URL.
Coursera will use “online remote proctoring technologies” that use webcams to verify students’ identity and validate their work during exams” so I read in this article in Slate by Will Oremus.
This triggered my imagination quite a lot: I had a vision of Coursera watching me through my webcam while I was working on my assignments.
Maybe I don’t get it, but even after signing in with my signature track I could easily cheat with the assignments by having them made by someone else and have them mailed to me could I not? Well that is of course unless they really are tracking my movements on the computer… Could I then make a loop of me typing while in reality I am not? I’ve seen to many action movies.
The second benefit is “verified certificates”: okay, sounds good enough. I will not only have fun being in a course but also earn a real certificate. Nothing wrong with that.
The third one is bothering me again: do I want my employer or employer to be sneaking around in my online assignments, files and notes? I am not sure about that. And, since it is online it can be hacked can it? To my knowledge there is nothing online witch cannot be hacked.
And, then there’s the big question: how much will it cost to take that online course?
When I signed up for a free online Coursera course offered by the University Of Edinburgh I thought Coursera was some kind of ideological organisation whose mission it was to offer free education for everyone. I thougth that was just great! But that was just naïve wasn’t it?
Coursera is funded by so cald “venture capital “. That means there are people who are willing to invest in it , called “investors”. An investor is, according to Wikipedia: “…someone who allocates capital with the expectation of a financial return. The types of investments include, — gambling and speculation, equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, derivatives such as put and call options, etc “. One way of getting their money back is Coursera earning money.
So how much will they be charging?
I sure hope it’s not too much so it will be available for most of us if not all of us.
Reading Shirky and Bady on the organisatons of Mooc’s, their place in society and the arguments against and in favour I can relate to both of them; I have my doubts but I am optimistic too. If it comes down to “choosing sites’ I think I can relate most to the blending of on- and offline teaching also called “flipping the classroom” and mentioned in “The Crisis in Higher Education” by Nicolas Carr. ( and a subject I wrote about before in this blog) Carr interprets it this way:
The designers and promoters of MOOCs don’t suggest that computers will make classrooms obsolete. But they do argue that online instruction will change the nature of teaching on campus, making it more engaging and efficient. The traditional model of instruction, where students go to class to listen to lectures and then head off on their own to complete assignments, will be inverted. Students will listen to lectures and review other explanatory material alone on their computers (as some middle-school and high-school students already do with Khan Academy videos), and then they’ll gather in classrooms to explore the subject matter more deeply—through discussions with professors, say, or through lab exercises. In theory, this “flipped classroom” will allocate teaching time more rationally, enriching the experience of both professor and student.
And I do enjoy it when a good writer ends his article like he should:
For better or worse, the Net’s disruptive forces have arrived at the gates of academia. – Nicolas Carr*
UPDATE: Moocs take a step toward college credit (february 7)
( * Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. His last article for MIT Technology Review was “The Library of Utopia.”)