Sharon - Great post and excellent question. I would be interested to hear the rationale. Perhaps the folks on the Blended and Online Learning CG (http://www.educause.edu/discuss/teaching-and-learning/blended-and-online-learning-constituent-group) could offer a few reasons why as well?
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Chief Technology Officer, UMassOnline
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From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sharon P. Pitt [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 11:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CIO] Are Coursera Courses Really MOOCs?
You raise very important points.
I do believe that you are correct: MOOCs were intended as a way to openly share knowledge and work so that learners, wherever and however those learners were defined, could participate in a common learning experience.
I'm tempted to say that we have been doing this kind of work in in higher education for years (e.g correspondence courses, TV broadcast of produced courses), although new and emerging technologies certainly allow greater capacity to mass, share and remix information.
And, yes, we should be concerned about the terms of service associated with MOOCs, as with any technology or business service in which we invest.
I would speak, as well, to purpose. Why, as institutions, do we want invest in the development of MOOCs? Do we seek to expand access to knowledge, via the "MOOC as Open Education Resource"? Are we sharing knowledge for the public good, in our responsibility to reach out to learning communities? Are we hoping to brand our institutions in areas of excellence? Are we seeking to market ourselves overseas, developing international reputation? Are we promoting our exceptional faculty?
The purpose of our investment in MOOCs help us to understand the terms and conditions that we are willing to negotiate in the development of such learning resources.
How about others? Why is your institution investing in MOOCs?
At 02:01 PM 7/20/2012, Josh Baron wrote:
I want to preference my question here with a couple of quick notes...
(a) Although I've been following the MOOC trend fairly closely and spent time "observing" the MITx Circuits course, I'm still very much a "learner" in this domain.
(b) Although I think there are possibly more questions than answers when it comes to MOOCs, I find some of the things they are doing very interesting/exciting and I'm also VERY happy to see higher education experiment with new models.
My understanding (but those with more experience should certainly correct me) is that the original concept of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was really about creating learning communities that would openly share knowledge and work as a community to create and participate in a common learning experience. Wikipedia notes (citing several sources) that there are four core principles associated with MOOCs, which are:
(1) The first principle is aggregation. The whole point of a MOOC is to provide a starting point for a massive amount of content to be produced in different places online, which is later aggregated as a newsletter or a web page accessible to participants on a regular basis. This is in contrast to traditional courses, where the content is prepared ahead of time.
(2) The second principle is remixing, that is, associating materials created within the course with each other and with materials elsewhere.
(3) The third principle is re-purposing of aggregated and remixed materials to suit goals of each participant.
(4) The fourth principle is feeding forward, that is, sharing of re-purposed ideas and content with other participants and the rest of the world.
[more details and citations are at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course]
When one considers these four principles they seem to center around, at least for me, core concepts that closely align with things such as Open Educational Resources and the other "flavors" of openness which have been developing over the past decade or so. For example, these principles focus on things such as: (a) content is produced as part of the course, not prepared ahead of time; (b) content is remixed, both within the course and with content outside the course; and (c) content, particularly remixed and re-purposed content, is shared among participants and, importantly, with the rest of the world.
As I explored the Coursera site and considered signing up for a course I decided to take a look (as I'm sure we all do ;-)) at the Terms of Service ( https://www.coursera.org/about/terms) and was a little surprised to see the following:
"All content or other materials available on the Sites, including but not limited to code, images, text, layouts, arrangements, displays, illustrations, audio and video clips, HTML files and other content are the property of Coursera and/or its affiliates or licensors and are protected by copyright, patent and/or other proprietary intellectual property rights under the United States and foreign laws....You may not otherwise copy, reproduce, retransmit, distribute, publish, commercially exploit or otherwise transfer any material, nor may you modify or create derivatives works of the material. The burden of determining that your use of any information, software or any other content on the Site is permissible rests with you."
In addition, they note the following related to user materials that are submitted to courses:
Now, I'm sure there are good legal reasons to have such statements but, at least for me, they raised some big questions about whether some of the really powerful learning that I've associated with MOOCs will come out of Coursera courses if the ability to remix and share content is limited (I'll also admit to being a little surprised that what I submit seems, if I'm reading it correct, to be then owned by Coursera). From my participating in MOOCs I've found the contributions of students, including content they develop, and how that content is remixed to be integral to the learning experience. If that is removed will the learning experience be the same? I've also felt that a powerful outcome of MOOCs could be the establishment of a sustainable learning community that would "survive" the course and continue to engage in learning together...but I wonder if that would happen without the open sharing and remixing of content?
Again, I am a big fan of change in higher education and I think Coursera and other similar ventures are driving change in good and interesting ways. I'm also excited about the conversation that these ventures are simulating. I'm just wondering if what was originally a very open model for learning is morphing into something that is more closed and what the implications for such a shift might be with regards to learning. Ultimately, I think there is a big question about whether initiatives like Coursera are truly creating new powerful models for learning or if we are simply creating "massive online courses" (dropping the open) and from our experience with those in the late 1990's I'm not sure it will result in the level of change we might all desire.
I'd love to hear other opinions and thoughts.
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Sharon P. Pitt
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