7. Why MOOCs Are Only Part of the Answer?
7.4. The Potential of cMOOCs
cMOOCs have the most potential, because lifelong learning will become increasingly important, and the power of bringing a mix of already well educated and knowledgeable people from around the world to work with other committed and enthusiastic learners on common problems or areas of interest could truly revolutionize not just education, but the world in general.
However, cMOOCs at present are unable to do this, because they lack organization and do not apply what is already known about how online groups work best. Once we learn these lessons and apply them, though, cMOOCs can be a tremendous tool for tackling some of the great challenges we face in the areas of global health, climate change, civil rights, and other ‘good civil ventures’. The beauty of cMOOCs is that every participant has the power to define and solve the problems being tackled.
Scenario F that ends this chapter is an example of how cMOOCs could be used for such ‘good civil ventures.’ In Scenario F, the MOOC is not a replacement for formal education, but a rocket that needs formal education as its launch pad. Behind this MOOC are the resources of a very powerful institution, that provides the initial impetus, simple to use the software, overall structure, organization and co-ordination within the MOOC, and some essential human resources for supporting the MOOC when running. At the same time, it does not have to be an educational institution. It could be a public health authority, or a broadcasting organization, or an international charity, or a consortium of organizations with a common interest. Also, of course, there is the danger that even cMOOCs could be manipulated by corporate or government interests.
Having said that, there is enormous scope for improvements within the public higher education system. MOOCs, open education and new media offer promising ways to bring about some much-needed improvements. Scenario F (coming up next) is one possible way in which MOOCs could bring about much needed social change.
However, MOOCs must build on what we already know from the use of credit-based online learning, from prior experience in open and distance learning, and designing courses and programs in a variety of ways appropriate to the wide range of learning needs. MOOCs can be one important part of that environment, but not a replacement for other forms of educational provision that meets different needs.