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Weekly News Roundup — MOOCs in Basic English, Writing, Humanitarian Aid, etc.

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for June 23, 2013

MOOC news roundup

Urbanicsgroup via Flickr

Whew. Another week without any earth-shaking announcements. Coursera didn’t buy a state university systems for parts or anything like that, so that leaves us more time to hunt for under-recognized MOOCs that don’t get a lot of attention, which is my favorite part of the weekly roundup. Let’s get to it.

Any Spanish speakers who happen to be relying on Google Translate to read our site and who are interested in language study may want to check out Empieza con el inglés. Start With Basic English is eight weeks long and starts June 30. If Google Translate is serving me well, the class will emphasize business English, and the platform, Redunx.org (yet another item to add to the upcoming MOOCs We Missed article in our MOOC Around the World Series) provides free online classes particularly in business and entrepreneurship.

We’re seeing more and more writing MOOCs being offered. (We’ll be publishing two essays this week about them.) A new one starting June 24 is from Michigan State University faculty and called Thinking Like A Writer via the Canvas Network. The MSU teaching team says they’ve, “designed this course to help you revise how you write and to help you collect a toolkit of effective reading, writing and learning strategies.”

Among the upcoming MOOCs on OpenLearning, the Australia-based startup, is Games In Education: Gamification. The instructor, a clinical psychologist, says the principles of the class originated in “acute neurological and psychiatric care wards of large hospitals.” Six weeks, starting July 1.

Learners interested in humanitarian and NGO work will want to look at a new MOOC from Deakin University in Australia. Registration is open for Humanitarian Responses to 21st Century Disasters, starting at a date TBA in July and 12-weeks long. There are a couple of interesting things going on structurally with this class. The instructor says assessment will rely on “rich learning exhibits” with less testing. Also, up to 100 students can apply for and pay for credit from Deakin.

Speaking of credits, here’s a sign that online learning and higher education is a scrambled mess right now. On the one hand, the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa campus is offering a $250 tuition waiver to incentivize paying students to take classes on campus instead of online. (None of them are MOOCs.) On the other hand, the Syracuse University librarianship MOOC we listed last week is offering a 20% tuition discount for anyone who is taking the class for credit in their graduate program.

Lastly, some commentary about all that scrambling, a.k.a. disruption. Though there is a ton of interesting debate out there about MOOCs every week, I don’t normally include links to it as part of the news roundup unless it includes some vital new information that helps MOOC students. But sometimes I do, and I think this article from Michelle Rhee-Weise writing for the Clayton Christensen Institute is worth a look.

I know Christensen’s predictions on disruption in higher education are highly contestable, and I won’t argue here that this piece is right and the piece it is responding to is wrong, but the data Rhee-Weise uses for background and context sums up very well a perspective that has guided MOOC News and Reviews. The implication in her article is that most of the discussion of higher education uses “college” as a very incomplete and inaccurate referent. As she points out, the college student most of us hold in our head as typical is a small fraction of the actual higher ed student body, not to mention the potential higher ed student body.

Understanding that reality is necessary to understanding what MOOCs actually are and where they might fit in. Too much of the debate about MOOCs presumes that they are only about the tiny fraction of the world’s population who are between 18 and 22 years of age and currently attending four-year institutions in the United States. Not even close. As I’ve said before, how MOOCs might or might not duplicate the college experience for that population is almost the least interesting thing about them. Look at our list of contributors and they way they are using MOOCs in their own lives, or look at our cases studies and profiles. You’ll have to hunt awhile to find one of those stereotypical college students. (I only recall one in all the material we’ve published.)

Okay, enough pontificating for now. More news next week. Let us know in the comments below what we missed and, if you haven’t already, make sure you get this news roundup and everything we publish in your email inbox by subscribing to our email list.

Robert McGuire (51 Posts)

I’ve been a graduate student in English literature, a newspaper and magazine reporter, an ESL teacher at home and abroad, a marketing consultant and a grants and outcomes measurement specialist in nonprofits. Currently, I provide higher education MOOC consulting services and teach writing at a local university, and my “other job” is volunteering for several local nonprofit organizations. I started this project because I believe MOOCs are going to be an important – not to mention fascinating – social development, and I want to ensure that students and teachers could participate in lively critical dialogue about it. You can find me on G+.