MOOCs etc.

MOOCs etc.

I was recently able to go to a small conference in Auckland, mainly around the topic of MOOCs and Online education.

Opened by Stephen Joyce.  “It’s all about the learner”

Key reading before the conference


A report from the Ministry, by Peter Guiney. Lists the state of the play in NZ (including our local MOOCs)

Kahn Academy

Salman Khan, Founder of Khan Academy beamed in via Skype.

Coincidentally I signed up properly for the Khan Acadamy recently, so I have seen things from one perspective recently.  And this is a post on the contrary view:

“The Khan Acadamy provides free online materials covering subjects ranging from maths and finance to history and art. The site consists of thousands of bite-sized videos, step-by-step problems, and instant data providing a rich and engaging learning experience”

Their analytics possibilities are huge.  Consider the question “Which sequence of presentation works best? A-B-C-D or A-C-B-D?”  Khan can set this up to provide a run through with hundreds of students in each pathway and compare.

During the two days, there was a lot of presenting of a point with analogies, examples or anecdotes.

One example.  Tristan Pang’s learning site.  (He is 12)

Tristan Pang's site.  He is 12.

Tristan Pang’s site. He is 12.

Asides: Tristan’s speech to the Festival of Education.  remarkable comments on Trust, Flexibility, Encouragement and Support.  And “Vertical learning”.  And at TedXYouth:

Strongly featured in his story is mentoring and access to rich learning resources.  This is partly what MOOCs are all about.

What’s a MOOC?


The big players: EdX, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy . . .   Futurelearn . . .

An infographic:

What do you DO in a MOOC?

What do you actually do in a MOOC?  An example from a course on a particular genre of writing.

What do you actually do in a MOOC? An example from a course using a particular genre of writing. “Society, Science and Survival”  From:

Break out groups: eg what will education look like in 2025?

Had to work hard on these sessions.  The environment was a bit tough to have small groups.  But they were fun.

One question was “In 2025 what will education look like?”  I’m not sure if we really made much progress, but we had a nice chat, and we understand some of the problems a little better.  Half way through writing this I discovered Mark McGuire’s report.  It’s much better.

Three full three themes considered during workshop sessions:

  1. What will tertiary education organisations look like in 2025?
  2. What are the opportunities and risks of new delivery models for New Zealand institutions? How can New Zealand position itself in the international market and for better domestic provision?
  3. What do changed education consumption patterns mean for accredited programmes and approved qualifications?

Keynote speaker: Stephen Haggard

From his bio: “Stephen Haggard is an independent consultant in new media and technology. He has been involved in delivering strategy and execution for governments, tech companies, universities, charities and media companies. He is the author of The Maturing of the MOOC. Literature Review of Massive Open Online Courses and Other Forms of Distance Learning

Other topics

Financial models

This was a major point of discussion in all sessions.


There are lots of different metrics for this.

Simon Nelson is the CEO of the UK-based MOOC, FutureLearnCEO of UK-based MOOC, FutureLearn.  Here is a scribbled diagram for one of his comments on metrics:



An idea common in many of our conversations was that MOOCs are disruptive.  Money, enrollments, quality, size.

  1. UC spends $4.3M on new courses and attracts one student.
  2. Georgia Tech offers IT masters Online through Udacity
  3. Coursa earns first Million dollars (Sept 2013)

Learning online and by distance can be as real as needed to keep a student motivated and engaged.

So, will MOOCs make a difference?

One quote in feedback from Futurelearn:

“Postings and reflections take the 2D ideas (we are presented) and make them 3D”

Online courses – done right – can connect learners in a way that makes learning real and vibrant.

But who knows what is instore for New Zealand in a MOOC future.

One comment on “MOOCs etc.
  1. Mark McGuire says:

    Hi Derek

    This is a very helpful post. It reminds me about all the things that happened at the event that I forgot (or had not paid adequate attention to). That’s a wonderful sketch of Simon Nelson’s talk! If I had sketched more and tweeted less, I might have remembered more. I was disappointed that no action plan emerged from ITES2014, but I understand that some people from the Ministry of Education are interested in keeping the conversation going. The competitive nature of higher ed in NZ may make inter-institutional collaborations difficult, but that doesn’t stop individuals — whoever they are and wherever they are — from connecting, sharing and collaborating. I’m pleased I discovered your blog. Cheers!

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