MOOCs – an impromptu SWOT analysis

On, Antonio Bartolomé from the University of Barcelona recently started an interesting  discussion thread by asking platform participants for their views on the SWOT of MOOCs. Here’s my reply (images added later).

Interesting thread! So many good answers already. Everything probably has been said by others. What I could add: SWOT for the lecturer(s) who develop an xMOOC (rather than the students or the institution). Why? Because I have just developed an xMOOC for research methods and I’m beginning to build another one for business information systems.

improved lecturer mobility and effectiveness – using MrBordello-Strategy-Game-Tileset-11-300pxthe MOOC, I now supervise a very large number of students with a minimum of effort. This scales: I tested this with 100, I have no doubt it will work for 1,000 or 10,000 just the same. I also feel that I’m much more in touch with the xMOOC topics – I have never updated material so frequently and with so much anticipation. So there is increased joy of teaching in the xMOOC for me (and I love classroom teaching, too!) – a definite strength. And lastly: because of learning analytics (in my case: within Moodle), I can, for the first time, see what effect I have on ALL the students. The xMOOC is, I think, more results-focused than traditional teaching.

the effort to create a good MOOC is excruciating, or can be, with too few resources. To create an xMOOC alone is bloody hard. I would not recommend it. The amount of work required – from selecting and applying tools (animation, audio, video, layout etc.) to the completely changed didactics – is simply astonishing. Even for an old e-learning hand like myself. I had not seen it coming, I don’t know why! I had heard (from the creator of an excellent Coursera MOOC) that the typical MOOC there has 10-20 developers and tutors. This points to another weakness: no good xMOOC without supporting teaching/tutoring community. It’s a community effort with regard to development and execution.

as more and more MOOCs are developed, the MOOC will leave the general smothering shadow of all-purpose e-learning. As it grows up, developing a MOOC will become easier. Already, Moodle is an amazing (I found out, to my surprise) support as a platform. The greatest opportunity lies in the enormous demand and in the shortcomings of traditional education – not so much because our teaching sucks but because it gets harder and harder, systemically, to do what we used to do in this time and age. Another opportunity lies in gamification – a buzzword but also the end of a very real rope leading to a totally different way of getting content across and interacting with each other and with students. For lecturers: more fun, too!

MrBordello-Strategy-Game-Tileset-8-300pxTHREATS: I’m an optimist, I can never think of threats. I prefer to cross this bridge when I get to it, I suppose. The greatest threat for the lecturer’s perspective, which I have taken here is that MOOCs do not go beyond most of what we see today. Standstill. That the opportunity for the lecturer is lost somehow. Honestly, I think we’re already beyond the point of no return, if only because the technology is going virtual, following the supply of new technologies and the demand for virtualisation but who knows. Another threat is perhaps that too many lecturers miss out on the opportunities – and agree to be mere bystanders. Lots of room for creativity and participation here, I think!

Good luck with the analysis!

See also: English version of my presentation on last year’s MOOC work.

All images: public domain – thanks to MrBordello

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