Ironic collapse of Coursera’s ‘Fundamentals of Online Education’ MOOC

The collapse of the Coursera MOOC Fundamentals of Online Education (#foemooc) with an alleged 41,000 students, has raised mixed opinions. It’s clear many students were satisfied with their initial learning experience, claiming those without the prerequisite digital knowledge and experience were being disadvantaged.  The design and choice of technology appears not to have suited everyone nor the requirement for students to structure their own learning with peers. This self-direction is similar to OLDsMOOC which is now in week 6. There have been similar difficulties with self grouping and establishing learning projects. Looking at the noticeable decrease in emails to the main OLDsMOOC  list, there has been a significant drop-out suggesting much is still to be learned.

MOOCs are too new to have found their feet. Many of the free courses contain poor quality materials with the standard of discussions not conducive to effective learning. Quantity is often achieved at the expense of quality and the massiveness of open online courses is no exception.  MOOCs also draw attention to the diversity of individual digital literacies. OLDsMOOC has been a challenge through its use of unfamiliar software like Cloudworks and Google Groups as well as its reliance of individual motivation and self-directed learning.  Failure is often the best teacher and from the Coursera collapse will come new knowledge about MOOCing. The blog How Not to Design a MOOC and its follow up post The MOOC Honeymoon is Over: Three Takeaways from the Coursera Calamity are early examples. These offer three key pointers for institutions considering going down the MOOC path.

  • The instructional model is shifting to be student-centric, away from an institution or instructor-focused model
  • Sound instructional design is the; key to supporting self-directed learning experiences.
  • Prepare students for the Learning Experience.

No surprises here but they seem to have been missing from Fundamentals of Online Education; an irony not lost on those who participated and commented on its sudden and unanticipated demise.

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