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MOOCs and Online Learning: Recent Reports and Resources

As NC State and universities across the nation work to discover how best to engage with MOOCs (massive open online courses), paying attention to current trends and thinking critically about new developments remain important for moving forward in pedagogically-sound and cost-effective ways.

Included below are three recent articles and resources exploring MOOCs, open courseware and blended/hybrid learning.

“MOOCs: Expectations and Reality”

In this extensive 2014 Columbia University report, “MOOCs: Expectations and Reality,” Fiona M. Hollands, Ph.D., and Devayani Thirthali, Ed.D., detail the findings of an extensive survey of administrators, faculty and other MOOC stakeholders from universities across the U.S.

Specifically, Hollands and Thirthali investigate “the actual goals of institutions creating MOOCs or integrating them into their programs, and . . . the current evidence regarding whether and how these goals are being achieved, and at what cost.” Their study included interviews with 83 individuals–faculty, administrators and other stakeholders–at more than 60 institutions of higher education across the U.S.

From this research, Hollands and Thirthali identify six goals that typify MOOC initiatives, from building institutional brand to fostering innovation in teaching and learning. Hollands and Thirthali also offer recommendations for administrators, researchers, donors and policymakers interested in implementing or moving forward with MOOCs at their institutions (see pages 15-17; 167-170).

Broadly, the researchers suggest that while the future of MOOCs remains uncertain, the MOOC movement has shifted the climate of higher education. Online education, they say, will certainly continue to grow, with MOOCs

View the full report.

“Exploring the Fringe: Flipping, Microcredentials, and MOOCs”

In this brief article, “Exploring the Fringe: Flipping, Microcredentials, and MOOCs,” Jeff Cobb and Celisa Steele examine what flipping, microcredentials and MOOCs actually mean, and how these learning models might be used to improve and respond effectively to traditional education.

In a study that asked nearly 160 individuals involved in learning technologies about these emerging models, Cobb and Steele found that none of these models has seen more than a 10% adoption rate, despite the growing frequency at which they are discussed. Moreover, many respondents were still unsure of what these models entail.

Cobb and Steele’s report therefore examines not only what these learning can look like in educational settings, but also the economic and pedagogical benefits of these models. It also includes interview excerpts from individuals such as Curt Bonk, president of CourseShare and professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, and Tamir Ali, president and cofounder of Digital Ignite.

This study offers practical considerations and applications for these models, and encourages institutions and stakeholders to think critically about the various issues surrounding these formats–to “consider these newer offerings along with other options . . . as you focus on creating and delivering value.”

View the full report.

“We are Joining the Open edX Platform”

In this September 2013 post, “We are Joining the Open edX Platform,” Dan Clancy explains Google’s decision to join edX as a contributor to the Open edX platform and gradually move away from Course Builder.

Clancy, vice president of engineering at Nextdoor and former director of research at Google, says Google will use the lessons learned in the year since Course Builder’s release to develop Open edX. Google will also contribute to, an online learning service that allows “any academic institution, business and individual to create and host online courses,” Clancy writes.

While Google will continue supporting Course Builder, Clancy emphasizes that through these open source projects Google hopes to expand the online learning environment and make it more accessible for institutions, teachers and learners.

View the full post.

Other Resources

Be sure to check DELTAwire from time to time for new reports, articles and other resources, such as the recent post, “What Have We Learned?: A Recap of ‘MOOCs and OOCs at NC State’ Seminar.”