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Join us for the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24, 2015 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX
CFP will open October 1, 2014

Check out the Conference Wrap-up pages from the 2014 conference. 

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Watch the Keynote Address
Reclaim Learning: A Domain of One's Own
Keynoter Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, shares innovations that support the ethos of open environments for online teaching and learning. 

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Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, to deliver Keynote Address

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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Are MOOCs Really Just Bad Course Design Digitized?

Matt Crosslin (University of Texas at Arlington, USA)
Harriet Watkins (University of Texas at Arlington, USA)
Session Information
April 10, 2014 - 10:10am
Open Education
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Effective Practice
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
San Antonio B
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 3

MOOCs: new innovative idea or old idea with a new facade? Is there really a difference between open courses and open learning design?

Extended Abstract

The goal of this session will be to examine the theoretical basis of Massive Open Online Courses. Is there really something new to the idea, or are these courses really just the same old "sage on the stage" concept reborn in a digital format?

The presentation will look at the basic theoretical underpinnings of various traditional course designs, such as empiricism, constructivism, and relativism. Parallels will be drawn with the various versions of open learning currently gaining in popularity at universities around the world. This will show that while some versions of MOOCs really are just the same passive lecture design that some courses have had for centuries, others are actually designed with a truly different, non-traditional pedagogy/andragogy that comes closer to heutagogy (the study of self-determined learning) in incorporating informal learning with formal learning.

This will lead to a discussion of the good aspects and the bad aspects of these models based on what various researchers have found. The currently popular version of MOOC, often referred to as the xMOOC, will be examined as to how it emulates the passive, information-intensive, instructor-centric model of large lecture hall classes. More constructivist models, commonly referred to cMOOCs will be connected to the historical idea of open learning, starting with the Greeks and running throughout history up to modern courses such as Digital Storytelling taught by Jim Groom at the University of Mary Washington.

"Open as in free" and "open as in deconstructed" will also be examined. Does offering a course for free really make it "open"? Or does open have to have some element of deconstruction that really transforms the traditional format into something different? This will lead into a discussion of active, open learning design that has the goal of taking the focus off of instructors and placing it on social interactions between students. Finally, various examples of true openness in online university learning will be examined as well as an honest look at where all of this is heading in the future. Will these ideas destroy universities, change the concept of what a course is, or just disappear as a footnote in history like so many other so-called "disruptive technologies" like Google Wave, Second Life, and Web 3.0?

Lead Presenter

I am an Instructional Designer at The University of Texas at Arlington's Center for Distance Education. I also currently serve as an adjunct instructor for The University of Texas at Brownsville in their Educational Technology department.

I have been involved in education since 1994. I created my first web page in 2000 - which I used to deliver supplemental materials to an 8th grade Science class I was teaching at that time. I have been involved in distance education in some way ever since then. In March 2007 I started EduGeek Journal, an online community promoting educational technology. I also regularly present at conferences, as well as lead instructional classes on different aspects of online learning and other issues.

My goal in e-learning is to bring a deeper level of professionalism to online learning by increasing social interactions and raising the level of technology integration and innovation in every class I design or teach. Several classes that I have worked on have won awards from the United States Distance Learning Association for innovations in online learning.


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