MOOC quality – what have we learned?

CC BY-NC Some rights reserved by Shira Golding

Dear friends, 12 exciting weeks have come to an end. We have had more viewers and readers than we would have ever expected. During the 12 weeks more than 12,000 people have read the 12 blog posts and many readers  have also used the feedback options. Also in ScoopIt and in other blogs the project has been followed and discussed many times. In a way this was the first MOBP – a Massive Open Blog Project. ;-)

We would like to thank you all for participating as readers and, of course, special thanks to all our experts who have contributed posts to this project.

We started this project  because we felt that the discussion on the quality of MOOCs is not yet mature enough to come to a conclusion and propose a sustainable model. Our aim was to bring together those who have been involved in the development of MOOCs and have written and reflected on the subject in order to start a conversation on quality. Through this we wanted to extract dimensions that could be used to develop the language of quality for MOOCs. Has this worked? We are still in the process of analyzing all the material and again would like to thank all authors for providing their best thinking on it.

Thanks to them we now have an excellent base from which to further develop the concept of quality in massive open online courses. When we started this discussion we realised that we were shooting at a moving target. New MOOC models are appearing each month as are new business models. One point that has emerged in the project is that MOOCs demand a new thinking about  quality  and that direct comparison with regular for–credit university courses is often misleading. Some criteria will be similar to those applied to traditional syllabus but will manifest themselves in new ways. Other criteria will be specifically for the online environment.

The notion of choice seems to be a very important aspect when it comes to quality of MOOCs. Are dropouts viewed as a sign of deficient quality or are they an expression of individual choice and actually designed into MOOCs? This is just one example leading the way to new thinking on quality in this field.

There are many factors that must be considered when assessing the quality of a MOOC. One of the most important aspects is the pre-course information available to prospective students and whether some kind of declaration of contents can be agreed upon showing clearly the type of course, pedagogical approaches to be used, level of student commitment, schedule/deadlines, technical requirements, role of teacher/tutor (if any), availability and level of interaction, availability of credentials etc. The key issue is perhaps to ensure that promises are kept and that MOOC providers provide clear information about what the course can and cannot offer.

Thanks to our expert contributors we have an excellent overview of the key issues involved in determining good quality in the field of MOOCs. The next step is to refine the essence of these insights and come to a coherent overview of MOOC quality criteria. We will further move in this direction on 26 September at the EFQUEL Innovation Forum in Barcelona (http://eif.efquel.org) when we will run an extra long session aptly named the MOOCathon. This will take the form of a workshop where the key issues from this project will be discussed and input from several recent European MOOC initiatives will be added to the mix. We look forward to meeting many readers of this blog at this workshop and if you wish to attend please check the conference web site. The conclusions of this workshop will then be used as the basis of a report/ journal article on MOOC quality which we currently intend to publish in the INNOQUAL Journal, the international journal on quality and innovation in learning.

The next events where the MOOC Quality project will be presented:

Ulf-Daniel Ehlers, Ebba Ossiannilsson, Alastair Creelman

Photo: CC BY-NC Some rights reserved by Shira Golding

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