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Jonathon *Rees*, not "Kees". We Welsh should stick together even (*especially*) when we disagree. Unlike most mooc critics, Jonathon uses as much ed-tech teaching as you'll find in the average hybrid course, engages with Digital Historians, even did a THATcamp, accepts challenges from developers, etc. I entertain the possibly unrealistic hope of seeing him in Lisa's next POTcert session, http://pedagogyfirst.org/wppf, because I trust him to give it a fair trial, more that can be said of so many other skeptics.

That said, I'd like to see more mooc rats (to borrow Scott Johnson's designation) following More or Less Bunkm http://moreorlessbunk.wordpress.com, With a strong background in labor history, he is also (rightly) concerned with the disruptive effect on academic labor and issues of ethics, not unlike the kinds of concerns you yourself have expressed.

Many mooc followers, most in Lisa's recent course, are insecure academic labor ~ sessionals, casuals, adjuncts, precarious knowledge workers, contingent faculty, and no doubt other designations. Although we cherish the equality of association in moocs, too often missing in brick and mortar institution and abysmally absent in online for-profits (what critics fear the MOOC will inevitably feed into), I would like to see more mooc engagement with the "adjunctifiction" issues Jonathon raises.

Thanks for opening this discussion.


Hi Martin,

Interesting reflections.

I actually questioned on Twitter last week, if one can be a MOOC if there are only small numbers. Certainly not if they are commercial (but then if something is commercial is it really open anyway?), and furthermore, by definition (again, the problem with acronyms [never really like MOOC]).

What really grabs me though, is that all of the MOOCs I've seen appear to be on learning technology, openness and other topics geared around CPD for educators. The Coursera, MIT/Stanford initiatives I've come across focus on Computer Science.

I've recently met with a few colleagues for a small OER project in Applied Geomorphology at MMU and wonder if we could offer it as an open course. Perhaps the topic naturally narrows the market but would it work? I think it could...

Finally, on your point regarding returning to educator run courses - does this bare any reflection on the uptake of the smaller resources by learners? I'd imagine (no hard evidence) that learners are likely to do a google search and if a structured open course from the OU returns, then that would be a trustworthy source. Compare that with an individual small OER from a lesser known HEI - any difference?

Just speaking aloud really but all interesting debates.


Peter Reed


@Vanessa - sorry, I wasn't clear if you thought I was disagreeing with Jonathan - I wasn't, I pretty much agree with what he says, I was linking to his post as a thoughtful piece on some of the perils of focusing on scale.

@Peter - in terms of subject matter, this is always the case. The early elearning courses were about elearning, there is a certain 'the medium is the message' advantage in early innovation, so if you spend a lot of time worrying about the format and the technology, that's still useful because it's related to your subject. But you don't want to waste learning 'real estate' in a Shakespeare course, say, on this. But then as it becomes mainstream it moves away from these topics, so now we have elearning courses on everything. The same will happen with MOOCs, I don't see anything intrinsic in them which would limit them to specific disciplines.
The reputation point you raise is interesting, (and we do see it with OERs) but I guess as you got into very niche subjects, it may be that the big providers aren't there and it is only one or two community specialists.


So an interesting perspective might be that smaller/less known institutions wishing to contribute to the open movement might be more effective (in terms of reaching self learners) by focussing on specific topic related areas due to the difficulty in competing with leading providers (competing in terms of reputation, but also resources/funds to produce high end materials)....

Another interesting perspective is the value of small OERs to self learners compared with fuller 'courses'. Not sure if any research compares access to both....



I think the vision of the infinitely extendable lecture hall is exactly the one that presents the MOOC as a risk, in a way that wasn't intended in the first uses of the term, I don't think.

When media coverage started to talk about celebrity MOOCs with 190,000 enrolled, there were two obvious stakeholders who would take an interest, because 190,000 is the sign that a new kind of educational market might be emerging, that isn't tethered to enrolment or location. So institutions started to say "Should we get into this?" and LMS vendors started to think: "This is better than having to go through an RFP." And I'm guessing that for obvious reasons celebrity college professors thought "I have so got this covered."

If this represents some kind of shift back to the lecturer as a slightly free agent, it also suggests a need for both HE institutions and LMS vendors to try to create some organisation in the self-learner market—to manage the risk of contract churn.

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