Published On: Mon, Apr 29th, 2013

Stop mocking MOOC

Jacob Gelt DekkerA worldwide MOOC hype is swooping massive numbers of students from the traditional world of education.
MOOC, an acronym for “Massive Open Online Course,” was only coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island. MOOC is an online course for large scale interactive participation and open access via the web. As a true disruptive innovation almost immediately MOOC experienced quantum leap growth and attracting hundreds of thousands of students.
Dozens of universities in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia have announced partnerships with large MOOC-providers such as Coursera, edX, P2PU, Iversity and Kahn University.

Initially MOOC did not meet student demands of “anytime, anywhere and any speed” but providers expeditiously developed new adapted products.. Crowd-sourced interaction and feedback by leveraging the MOOC network for peer-review and group collaboration improved the products considerably. Others made available “ Flip Classroom” products, hybrids with teachers as coaches for self-study participants.

The traditional industrial-age school models no longer sufficiently meet educational objectives of employers or match students’ abilities. Locking away children, neatly sorted by age groups in uniform classrooms in large storage facilities called "schools" may be a relatively safe way for them to spend the day away from home and parents, but achieves ever less adequate preparation for the child to enter the workforce. Drop-out rates in excess of 50% for 14-year olds are becoming more and more common.

Historically, the schools’ objectives may have been no more than just storage for children to enable parents to participate in the industrial workforce, but gradually teaching of religion and general education developed as byproducts.
Unfortunately today, teachers’ labor conditions fiercely defended by powerful unions form the core of education budgets and public political debates rather than student-curriculums and success in the future workforce. With such dramatic lack of interest and attention for student achievements it is not surprising that they massively fail and drop out.
Nevertheless, teachers and their unions on Curacao take a combatant position against any form of new on-line learning outside the traditional settings. At times they may pay lip service to it with endless and fruitless discussions but in the end they block introduction of new approaches..
The new media for education are grossly ignored or arrogantly disqualified on the island and portrayed as hypes. Some compare them to audio teaching of the 1920’s by radio, tv-classrooms of the ‘60’s, and closed circuit video lectures of the 90’s, which all proved to be of little consequence. The heavily politically laden claim of commercialization of education is also flippantly used to discredit the new developments. Traditionalism on Curacao appears all powerful, especially in the presence of a knowhow vacuum of ruling populist politicians.

Responding to concerns about commercialization of online education, MIT ( Boston) launched the MITx not-for-profit in the fall of 2012. Harvard joined the initiative, with edX and many universities followed. In November, 2012, the first high school MOOC was launched by the University of Miami at UM's online high school. It followed in the successful Florida Virtual School, an accredited, public, online e-learning school serving about 300,000 students in grades K-12 in the State of Florida and all over the world.
The new online learning trends of MOOC and others seem unstoppable and worldwide are quickly becoming an integrated part of the new communication economy and society. Further objections by civil servants and traditional educators at the ministries will cause an already crippled island school system to become even more handicapped with dramatic long term consequences for the future economy

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