CSG Spring 2013 – MOOC Workshop – Survey and discussion

This morning’s workshop is a workshop on MOOCs.

Chuck Powell begins by asking where we are on MOOCs in the Gartner hype cycle – approaching the peak of hype, or heading into the trough of disillusion.

The CSG MOOC survey shows 60% of respondents have already begun to offer MOOCs, most (50%) using external providers. 4% have explicitly decided not to offer MOOCs now.

Number of courses range from 1 to 20, with an average of just over 7, growing slightly in the next year.

Why are they offering MOOCs – 30% desire to support global education, 18% for marketing and outreach, 25% are driven by faculty desire, 14% for competitiveness. It’s noted in a comment that lots of this is driven by schools not wanting to be the last in the game, driven by fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Maybe it’s better for us (universities) to be driving the bus rather than have it done to us by outside forces (like happened in scholarly publishing). One institution notes that it’s the best teachers at the institution who want to participate. Another says that desire for growth at global campuses is part of what’s driving them to participate. One flagship public institution says that they feel a mission to provide resources to the other institutions in the state.

The calamity factor – provosts want perception that they have it thought through before they are advised to (see the Virginia incident). 

To what extent is this necessary to recruit and/or retain faculty – one institution says that this is definitely seen as a factor by one new center.

MOOCs don’t usually pay faculty, but can result in an uptick in textbook sales. 

One idea is institutions using MOOCs for finding new faculty to recruit.

45% of respondents are discussing the possibility of granting credit. Georgia Tech online CS program for $7k. The big question (for the institutions in this room) isn’t granting credit, but accepting it. Will we grant credit if our own students have taken our own MOOC? Some states are talking about how to take the first year out of the college cost structure.

Some of this is a question of what the value added is when we grant a degree. Is it just a certification of an assemblage of experiences, wherever they come from? Imagine if undergraduate courses are taught more like graduate seminars. 

33% are considering monetizing your offerings. Could get revenue from reaching new audiences, either outside the country or in new vertical markets. Total costs for offering a course on a MOOC can be upwards of $100k (not everyone agrees that they’re spending that, citing more like $20k out of pocket). How is that sustainable? Consider Khan academy – not so high fidelity yet very effective. It can be a long tail model. 

It’s early days. Like we saw with mobile and social networks, these will get monetized and it’s important to be in the game at the beginning. 

MOOCs can be an important marketing tool for smaller schools. 

There’s a good opportunity if we can see that we shouldn’t compete on whole courses, if we can dis-aggregate content and reuse it in pieces in our institutions. There are discussions of inter-institutional arrangements (CIC CIOs are talking, as are the state systems). Can we build a repository of learning materials – we’ve done that before, but haven’t gotten used. Some of those materials already exist out on YouTube and get used in our institutions – hard to beat free, but there could be some kickass materials with a per-use fee. 

Are students really learning in these experiences? 

Are MOOCs going to replace brick and mortar? Probably not for top tier residential institutions. We have a long tradition of credentialing our faculty as experts – how is quality determined online? MOOCs don’t replace the connections with alumni, careers, etc. that people get at online courses. 

There’s an opportunity for IT groups to be involved in helping people run infrastructure. 

One school – we don’t know where this is going to go, so let a thousand flowers bloom. Wide open for experimentation. They want to gather data, so they can then evaluate what works and what doesn’t. People are excited about being able to get learning metrics which they couldn’t get before.

One of the key returns may be the effect of MOOCs in the residential instruction model. This will change how our campuses operate in the next five years – what does this do to the model of semesters and years when we’re freed from the physical constraints? One person thinks that it won’t have an effect for twenty years, while another thinks that it’s already starting to change with the effect of flipped classrooms. 

Faculty are inviting staff (whether IT or others) in to help create the courses for MOOCs. 

How do we archive the materials that come out of MOOCs? What’s the role of libraries?

One campus is rejecting online education for undergraduates, but embracing it for graduate education. 

MOOCs allow students to audition subjects and faculty. 

Why are we still building large lecture halls? Part of the investment in MOOCs may be recouped in not having to build those. Buildings are 30 year decisions, while MOOCs are 1-3 year decisions. How many of us are concerned about the changes in physical models due to this? 

This is similar to discussions we had five years ago about Second Life – what’s different now? Are MOOCs a distraction to concentrating on the changes in pedagogy? The real impact of MOOCs could be competency based education – we should pay attention to what’s happening in Europe with testing of skills. 

Physical changes could be in building labs and meting spaces instead of lecture halls. 

Success may be based on agility – look at Amazon.

Some institutions are looking at online degree programs to replace diminished funding from states.

MOOCs are driving a new conversation about teaching and technology in ways we’ve been trying to get people thinking about for twenty years. Faculty who teach MOOCs learn new things about their teaching.

Faculty who are teaching MOOCs are taking parts of them back into their on campus courses. 

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