The MOOC in sheep’s clothing


Yesterday, Tony Bates, one of the foremost academics working around online and distance education, wrote a blog post  announcing his retirement. He’s had a long, productive, and highly valuable career, and very much deserves to now focus on enjoying his retirement. But the reasons he shares for leaving the field now go beyond this, presenting a scathing indictment MOOCs and what they suggest for the future of education: Continue reading

Trying to sort out my research…


Last week I went through the comprehensive exam/research proposal defence process, a milestone in the PhD process.  My comprehensive exam papers were fully passed, and while my research proposal was accepted in principle, my supervisors (and I) are worried about some of the logistics involved.  I’ve spent the past week trying to decide where I go from here, not simply in terms of my research, but in a bigger sense of if completing a PhD is what’s best for me and my family right now.  After a fair bit of reflection (i.e. knitting and watching the complete set of House DVDs), I know that I am going to continue on this PhD journey.  Now comes the question of where I go with my research.  That’s where you come in.  I really could use any feedback, thoughts, questions, criticisms, and so forth.  The full proposal document can be found here, what follows is the (very rough) tl;dr version. Continue reading

Learning to learn in a MOOC

I’m currently trying to put together my research proposal for my PhD project.  It’s frustrating, because I know what I want to do, but I’m struggling to articulate it.  I’m hoping posting it here, in casual and non-academic speak, will help me think my way through it.  And as many heads are better than one (especially my overworked blonde one!), I’d really appreciate any feedback anyone has! Continue reading

I like Michael Gove even less now

Gove gave a speech about education technology to the BETT conference this week.  I don’t know why I read it, nothing he could say would have been enlightening.  Or even rational.  Of course he gets MOOCs wrong.  Except for one quote:

“No government, for example, could ever have imagined the impact that Sebastian Thrun is having on 21st century education.”

I’m assuming by ‘impact’ he meant ‘damage’.  Cause not even Gove could be that stupid.  Could he?

The greatest MOOC conference in the history of MOOCs!

I spent a few days last week at the MOOC Research Initiative conference(better known by the participants as the ice-pocalypse) in Arlington, Texas.  It was, without question, the best conference I’ve ever attended.  A relatively small group, it seemed nearly everyone was not just interested in MOOCs, but held a common understanding that there was so much more to them than what the hype and stereotypes would have us believe. Continue reading

MOOCs, for the uninitated


Currently in Texas for a conference around MOOCs.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of them – the newest ‘who needs schools when we have technology’ media darling.  They’re going to equalise access to education; anyone living in an impoverished developing country can now get the same education as a Harvard student (well, if they have an interenet connection… and of course the clean water, sufficient food, prevention of disease, lack of oppression, and oodles of free time necessary to both survive and complete the coursework).  And obviously, by 2020 we’ll see the fall of the ivory towers; now that information and knowledge are easily available how could universities possibly survive (never mind the same claims were made after the printing press meant books were easily available, or when radio/film/television enabled communication across vast distances).
But like most such phenomena, the hype and the reality are barely related. Continue reading