Thursday, 26 September 2013

‘Current Learning and Teaching with Technology Issues – have your say’

Online learning: MOOCS offer a myriad of new opportunities

NATA recently published a short post regarding MOOCs which was developed by James Sankar from AARNet and aimed to engage the sector in discussion on this current issue (available here). Building on from this initial post we are now asking for your feedback and thoughts on the following question regarding the issue of quality.

Question 2: 

How can you ensure quality in the design and delivery of a MOOC and how do you measure this?

Place a comment below and let us know what your thoughts or experiences are on this issue.


  1. By way of a summary to the original question "MOOC and how do you feel about it as an effective “more than just content” learning tool?

    It is clear that there a lot of opinions about this relatively new form of online learning. Gordon Suddaby pointed to the September 3rd edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education where not everyone is enamoured with MOOCs to balance what was a positive slant to my original post.

    My response to Gordon's post was as follows

    I agree, there are both camps with different opinions and perspectives on opportunity and impact. Universities will I believe need to better understand the threat/opportunity and I suspect the balance will be on picking winners and resourcing them and to be able to turn the MOOC experience into a new revenue stream for University value adds that can motivate, train, support and share funds back to the academics and their support teams. It is difficult area to navigate for all universities as the area is new and rapidly moving. Any insights from those actively involved in MOOC discussions and actual experience would be greatly appreciated.

    Then came along a counter argument to A MOOC Star defects from Western Australia! See which shows how MOOC can be transformative too.

    Followed by Mark Brown adding that like most technology-enhanced learning initiatives the good and the bad co-exisit. There are a number of positive dimensions to the MOOC movement, such as getting us (and senior university leaders) talking more about the potential of online learning. On the other hand, the following article makes good reading in terms of the underlying inequality of MOOCs. See

    To sum up here, it is early days for this form of online learning and I do sense that there a lot of "finding your way" going on. Gaining input from our community is important to shape the direction in ways that we can enable win-wins for staff, students and university sustainability as opposed to quoting others overseas who may operate under different modes of operation and funding.

  2. When it comes ensuring quality in the design and delivery of a MOOC and how do you measure this I believe it depends on the subject matter. For some courses where case studies apply then a MOOC may work well to tease out interpretations and learn from the masses in online discussion forums. In other areas this won't work. Subject that for example are designed to know as much about you as the subject the MOOC experience can be less effective as you have a barrier to getting to know your colleagues, your lecturer and to have your thinking challenged in real time. Quality therefore deteriorates from a self-learning perspective. In terms of quality of course design, the superstar lecturers may take the limelight and may not allow for different perspectives or opinions limiting thought globally, however if you were in a lecture with one lecturer it would be the same but a local and not global phenomenon. Being able to offer courses with maybe lecturer panels on key subjects in the form of a debate may help to increase the quality of MOOCs but may also be a cost to deliver?

  3. Some interesting developments

    1. UK Enters the MOOC race with FutureLearn -

    2. As we focus on MOOC, Harvard adopts SPOCS (small private online courses) -