The Emancipated Learner? The Tensions Facing Learners in Massive, Open Learning
MOOCs have the potential to challenge existing educational models. Paradoxically, they frequently reinforce educational conventions by requiring the learners to conform to expected norms of current educational models. Recent research has produced data on how learners engage in MOOCs. And yet, despite the extensive data, rather than freeing learners to chart their own pathways, MOOCs still require the learners to conform to expected norms. The very act of learning autonomously often causes tensions, most noticeably when learners choose to drop out, rather than complete a course as expected, or when they engage in MOOCs as mere observers, rather than active contributors. In this chapter, we explore how the emphasis on the individual as active and autonomous learner sometimes conflicts with the expectation that learners conform to accepted norms. This expectation that learners conform to accepted ‘ways of being’ in a MOOC isolates those who plan their own pathway. The chapter concludes with a typology of different learners, arguing that, rather than adhering to a ‘type’, each MOOC participant moves across these learner types, depending on their motivations, and may span different types, rather than falling into one single category.
The authors wish to thank Vasudha Chaudhari of The Open University for comments and for proofing this chapter.
- Biesta, G. (2009). Good education in an age of measurement: On the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Education Assessment Evaluation Association, 21, 33–46.Google Scholar
- Christensen, G., Steinmetz, A., Alcorn, B., Bennett, A., Woods, D., & Emanuel, E. J. (2013). The MOOC phenomenon: Who takes Massive Open Online Courses and why? Available from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2350964.
- Clow, D. (2013, April). MOOCs and the funnel of participation. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge (pp. 185–189). ACM.Google Scholar
- Conole, G. (2013). MOOCs as disruptive technologies: Strategies for enhancing the learner experience and quality of MOOCs. RED - Revista de Educación a Distancia, 39. Available from: http://www.um.es/ead/red/39/conole.pdf.
- Cottom, T. (2014). Democratising ideologies and inequality regimes. Cambridge, MA: Berkman Centre for Internet & Society Series, Harvard University.Google Scholar
- Daradoumis, T., Bassi, R., Xhafa, F., & Caballé, S. (2013, October). A review on massive e-learning (MOOC) design, delivery and assessment. In 2013 Eighth International Conference on P2P, Parallel, Grid, Cloud and Internet Computing (3PGCIC) (pp. 208–213). IEEE.Google Scholar
- Davis, H., Dickens, K., Leon, M., del Mar Sanchez Ver, M., & White, S. (2014). MOOCs for Universities and Learners: An analysis of motivating factors. In: 6th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, 01–03 April 2014.Google Scholar
- DeBoer, J., Ho, A., Stump, G., & Breslow, L. (2014) Changing “course”: reconceptualizing educational variables for massive open online courses. Educational Researcher, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x14523038.
- Feinberg, W. (2001). Choice, autonomy, need-definition and educational reform. Studies in Philosophy of Education, 20(5), 402–409.Google Scholar
- Ferguson, R., & Sharples, M. (2014, September). Innovative pedagogy at massive scale: Teaching and learning in MOOCs. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 98–111). Cham: Springer.Google Scholar
- Grossman, R. J. (2013). Are massive open online courses in your future? HR Magazine, 58(8), 30–36.Google Scholar
- Guàrdia, L., Maina, M., & Sangrà, A. (2013). MOOC design principles: A pedagogical approach from the learner’s perspective. eLearning Papers, (33).Google Scholar
- Illeris, K. (2007). How we learn: Learning and non-learning in School and Beyond. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Jordan, K. (2015). Massive open online course completion rates revisited: Assessment, length and attrition. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(3).Google Scholar
- Kizilcec, R., Piech, C., & Schneider, E. (2013). Deconstructing disengagement: Analyzing learner subpopulations in massive open online courses. LAK ’13 Leuven, Belgium.Google Scholar
- Knox, J. (2016). Posthumanism and the massive open online course: Contaminating the subject of global education. Routledge.Google Scholar
- LeBar, M. (2014) MOOCs—Completion is not important. Forbes. Available from August 20, 2017: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2014/09/16/moocs-finishing-is-not-the-important-part/.
- Littlejohn, A., & Milligan, C. (2015) Designing MOOCs for professional learners: Tools and patterns to encourage self-regulated learning, eLearning Papers, 42, Special Issue on Design Patterns for Open Online Teaching and Learning. Accessed August 20, 2017 from http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/node/170924.
- Mak, J., Williams, S., & Mackness, R. (2010). The ideals and reality of participating in a MOOC. In L. Dirckinck-Holmfeld, V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. de Laat, D. McConnell, & T. Ryberg (Eds.), Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Networked Learning 2010.Google Scholar
- McCathy, C. (2011). Afterword. In Peters and E. Bulut (Eds.), Cognitive capitatlism, education and digital labour (pp. 301–321). Berlin: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
- Milligan, C., Margaryan, A., & Littlejohn, A. (2013). Patterns of engagement in connectivist MOOCs. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2). http://jolt.merlot.org/vol9no2/milligan_0613.htm.
- Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Scribner, S. (1985). Vygotsky’s uses of history. In J. Wertsch (Ed.), Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives (pp. 119–145). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Selwyn, N. (2014). Distrusting educational technology. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Selwyn, N. (2016). Is technology good for education. Cambridge, UK: Polity Books.Google Scholar
- Shah, D. (2016). By the numbers: MOOCS in 2016. [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.class-central.com/report/mooc-stats-2016/.
- Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. [Online]. Available from www.knowingknowledge.com.
- Siemens, G. (2013). Massive open online courses: Innovation in education. Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice, 5, 5–15.Google Scholar
- Wintrup, J., Wakefield, K., & Davis, H. (2015). Engaged learning in MOOCs: A study using a the UK engagement survey. The Higher Education Academy.Google Scholar
- Yang, D., Sinha, T., Adamson, D., & Rose, C. P. (2013). “Turn on, tune in, drop out”: Anticipating student dropouts in massive open online courses. In: Proceedings of the NIPS Workshop on Data Driven Education (pp. 1–8). Retrieved from http://lytics.stanford.edu/datadriveneducation/papers/yangetal.pdf.