…”MOOCs and online courses may share a delivery platform (web based learning), but they differ in fundamental ways. How is a traditional online course different from a MOOC?

The critical difference is that a well-designed online course is built around the co-construction of knowledge amongst the students and the instructor. This knowledge construction requires active and personal engagement between students and faculty.  Conversation.  Dialogue. Collaboration.  Give and take.  Back and forth.

A well constructed traditional online course is not a vessel to deliver content from the brains of the professor to brains of the students, but rather an opportunity for faculty to guide, shape, reinforce, and support student learning.   Good teaching, both online and face-to-face, requires both a subject matter mastery and the ability to create and nurture environments that facilitate active learning.  This work requires that the faculty have the opportunity to interact with the students.

Online (and blended) learning may help us scale up these interactions, and we have gone a long way in understanding how re-engineer traditional lecture courses to act and feel more like small seminars.   Better utilizing the expensive and scarce talent of our faculty with online and blended learning will be a key element of increasing higher ed productivity, an important element of bending the higher ed tuition cost curve.

There is a limit, however,  to how much online and blended learning can scale while remaining true to an authentic course experience.   No matter how well the multimedia, assessments, and peer learning opportunities are designed into a MOOC, the experience with 160,000 fellow learners (as in Stanford’s AI course) will never be comparable to a well designed traditional online, blended or face-to-face course.”

Kim, J. (2012).  Parsing the NYTimes Coverage of the Growth of MOOCs. Inside Higher Ed, July 18, 2012.  Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/parsing-nytimes-coverage-growth-moocs#ixzz214og5nvm.


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