Ed-Tech After the MOOC Bubble: Some Implications for Student-Centered Learning

Event Date: 

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 9:45pm to 11:00pm

Event Location: 

  • University of Auckland
  • New Zealand
  • Case Room 3
  • Talk

Conference Title: Universities in the Knowledge Economy: Perspectives from Asia-Pacific and Europe

Panel: Online Education after MOOCs

Universities seemingly everywhere are undergoing a major process of transformation.
In New Zealand and the United Kingdom, declining public expenditure on research and teaching is bringing intense pressure on universities to commercialise their intellectual property and other assets. Elsewhere the notion that universities should become the engines of the new knowledge economy has also become a key feature of the landscape of higher education reform.

This conference asks:
What is the place of universities in the emerging ‘ecology’ of higher education systems that straddle industry, government and the public sphere? How are universities negotiating the demands placed upon them to compete in the global knowledge economy? What new subjects and spaces are emerging under the new conditions of existence for universities? How do academics, students, managers and policy makers make sense of these changes? Are there alternative ways of organising the university and its relations with society and if so, where are these being developed?

The 2012-13 MOOC wave (Massive Open Online Courses) cannot in retrospect be explained by educational or budgetary accomplishments, which were modest. On the other hand, MOOC promoters identified a genuine problem with public higher education in the United States and other countries, which is “limited learning” among a high percentage even of successful graduates (Arum and Roksa 2011). This paper first identifies specific sources of this “limited learning,” then reviews recent studies of scalable or “xMOOC” outcomes to see whether these address the sources of this limited learning. It argues that, in xMOOC form, online technology does not in itself enhance student learning. The final section describes several features of the cMOOC precursor (where “c” stands for connectivity) that do have potential for helping online technology increase individual student learning. The crucial issue, I will argue, has less to do with technology and more to do with the governance structures through which institutions will deploy online technology.