MOOCs: What Higher Education Can Learn From It

In the last twenty years sharing knowledge and information has become very easy because of the explosion of internet technology. This has led to new pedagogical possibilities, also in the field of education. Modern education represents a fusion of powerful communication technologies, internet literacy, and pedagogical innovation which is developing into a new creative paradigm for education.

open paradigm

The monopoly position of traditional higher educational institution is being questioned by a growing population.
Traditional ways of providing learning opportunities are no longer adequate to equip teachers, students and workers with the competences required to participate successfully in the knowledge-based society. It is becoming ever more evident that the societal frameworks and conditions are changing at a pace that is not being met by what most educational institutions today offer as learning opportunities and -outcomes.
It is often argued that distance learning and massive open online courses (MOOCs) can catalyse a change in education because they offer a more learner-centred approach and problem-solving strategies. However, there is also a need for new pedagogic practices based on an open paradigm. How can we engage students in open online collaborative projects using wikis or blogs, can be such a practice.


learn from MOOCs

Traditional higher education directs students towards achieving a degree. A degree program often include some materials that are more or less interesting to the student. By creating a more open learning environment students must direct their own learning. In a MOOC learners select their own course(s) and must direct their own learning at a fundamental level. MOOCs may be a radical pedagogical activity in that they often do not specify learning goals or examine the learning process. Assessment of learning is typically peer-based rather than carried out by an instructor. That makes it a totally learner-centred (and learner-driven) approach which is at odds with almost all institutional pedagogy. MOOC learners must take responsibility for their own learning and development to a degree that is arguably greater than that of typical higher education students. They must therefore be relatively more autonomous in some ways than typical college students. Many conceptions of teachers and learners about learning are based on ‘closed’ institutional models (banking concept). So, how can we orient ourselves in a MOOC environment and learn from it?

180 turn

I would argue that the expanding force of standarisation in higher education isn’t able to develop the skills that are most needed to succeed as a human-being in society and add long-term value to work and the economy. That’s why things as 21th century skills and Bildung are introduced as key aspects to higher education. Did we loose our common sense? Where the aspect are introduced as new, I would argue that these beliefs and values – including autonomy, critical reflection, inclusivity, and embracing the potential for self-development – are a critical lens through which to assess exciting models of education. To me, personally these aspects form the heart of learning for myself and my students. This is the reason why I am in education.

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