MOOCs are Great but we’re not trying to be one

(And we won’t use the word pedagogy once – well, expect here.)

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course and it represents a new take on the old “Open University” initiative which had the social aim of opening higher, tertiary learning opportunities to as many people as possible via distance learning.

Whereas the Open University initiative was originally based on a selection of short texts and television programs designed to deliver course material for its distance learning students.  A MOOC has translated this model online, teaming with Universities to make courses freely accessible on the internet and open up this course material to large numbers of student worldwide.  MOOC Startup, Coursera, for example, follows a similar Open University model – breaking down lectures and notes down into small chunks.  Unlike the Open University model, the MOOC has a social element.

It’s become big news over the last few weeks and months through the adoption of MOOC ventures by large, internationally-known tertiary institutions through Coursera.

Don’t get us wrong – we like MOOCs – democratisation of education is great and it is a form of crowd-learning which opens up lots of opportunities for innovation.  But let’s explain why we as a mobile casual learning platform don’t want to be a MOOC and why we aren’t competing with them:

  • A MOOC is no substitute for a real degree.  It isn’t and isn’t intended to be so why replicate the bureaucracy and structure of a University?  As we’ve blogged before no one’s walking away from a MOOC with a recognised degree. The release of their material is a complementary content marketing strategy for the University in showcasing themselves and their lecturers and courses. The fact that someone in Africa or the Middle East can view MIT or Princeton lectures also makes it a social enterprise for them and a form of educational diplomacy for the United States.
  • MOOC isn’t casual learning of practical, professional skills.  We want to deliver easily-digested learning opportunities via mobile video.  That’s Casual learning, like you’re doing right now.  PRIMEr’s experts will be industry peers delivering information on skills you can use, and allows you to discuss and talk about with others in your industry.  And in so doing innovate ways in which businesses and professionals work.
  • We can be complementary to a MOOC, not competitive with them.  Coursera can be our customer.  They could upload parts of the course to PRIMEr and encourage our Users to give MOOCs a go. We’d love to hear from them and other MOOCs in the future.

We’ll probably be blogging more about MOOCs in the future – maybe even come up with a crazy acronym ourselves.


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