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Weekly Roundup: Indian MOOCs, Journalism, Leadership, Fairy Tales and SJSU

Welcome. Here’s your roundup of MOOC News for July 21, 2013

Fairy Tale MOOC

Krystn via Flickr

We found some interesting classes out there this week. First up, a couple of Indian MOOCs.

Don Bosco University and University 18 have teamed up for a platform called UGlobal, which right now has four classes in management, marketing and entrepreneurship active or coming soon.

Also, seven IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) and industry partners (including Infosys, TCS, Cognizant and Nasscom) are teaming up to offer certified computer science MOOCs that expand access to rural areas and shorten paths to degree completion. The news article announcing this says classes will start in October, but otherwise details are “being worked out,” and there’s no information on where to sign up or learn more. We’ll keep an eye out.

A non-profit executive leadership organization The Center for Creative Leadership is offering LeaderMOOC, which will build on fundamental abilities needed for success: Self-awareness, Learning Agility, Influence, and Communication. Open to all, 7 weeks, starting September 14, no certification.

The Knight Center for Journalism MOOCs are covering a lot of bases, as we discussed in our MOOC Around the World Series. They’re on the subject of journalism, obviously. Several of them are on the emerging field of big data analysis. And they provide opportunities for Spanish and Portuguese speakers. Their next one, Data-Driven Journalism: The Basics, will be in English. Six weeks, starting August 12, team-taught, free for all, fee for a certificate.

Fairy Tales: Origins and Evolution of Princess Stories is a four-week MOOC to be taught by German literature professor Kevin Yee from University of South Florida. From Canvas Network, starts August 5.

Editor’s rant of the week

You probably already heard this, but just in case . . . . San Jose State University is “pausing” its program of credit-bearing MOOCs, which were offered in partnership with Udacity, because the classes weren’t effective and students weren’t learning. You can learn more about Udacity’s spin or reasonable explanations, depending on your perspective, here. It doesn’t look good, for sure, and it gives ammunition to MOOC critics. I would call it an embarrassment on the order of the flameout of the Fundamentals of Online Education MOOC on Coursera last February.

Reading between the lines, my view is that this isn’t all bad news for the MOOC concept, but it does underscore what should be obvious problems with how MOOCs are commonly implemented. As a teacher myself, I always felt it was irresponsible to launch a course publicly that hadn’t yet been completely planned. Obviously, I do adapt and modify during a semester, changing reading and alter assignments, but it’s not really a course until it has defined ending, and until I have that clear in my mind — where I want my students to end up and the paths that could get them there — I’d never feel comfortable starting.

With MOOCS, though, it’s pretty common to hear of a course commencing shortly after the instructor had decided to run it and long before all the material had been developed. A few instructors have confessed to starting the process without even really understanding what a MOOC is. I’m taking a class now where everything from the grading policies to the pedagogy to the assignments are fluctuating wildly from one unit to the next, and there’s a real sense that the instructors — experts in the subject matter, granted — have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.

This isn’t a problem with the MOOC concept. It’s a problem with the execution, and it appears to go hand-in-hand with the “get big fast” approach of Silicon Valley. That’s a reasonable business strategy maybe, but it’s not necessarily sound educational policy and not fair to students. As I’ve argued before, the big three providers are essentially taking the rest of us along on their shakedown cruise. Which might be okay. (Personally, I happen to find it disrespectful, even at this price point, but tens of thousands of other students are more patient, apparently.)

But we should see a shakedown cruise for what it is, and we shouldn’t be surprised when it turns out that classes with no planning and no record aren’t worth college credit.

Okay, end of rant. As always, if you spotted some MOOC news that didn’t get enough Twitter chatter, make sure we know about it. In the meantime, to get this news roundup in your email box, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.


Robert McGuire (52 Posts)

My content marketing services firm provides all-in-one external staff solutions for companies looking to grow their business through thought leadership. I started MOOC News & Reviews in 2013 out of a fascination with the economic, demographic and technological forces impacting edtech, online education and higher education, and I wanted to provide a forum for serious discussion of this new phenomenon. I love building communities of writers engaging in lively critical dialogue about emerging issues.