At a recent conference on MOOCs, (Massive Open Online Courses) held at MIT in the US, one of the keynote speakers, the eminent educationalist , e-learning quality expert and one-time VC of the Open University in the UK, Sir John Daniel, showed a graph entitled “Hype Cycle for Online Learning?” depicting a steep rise in the curve over the last year. Of course the key to the point he was making is in the word “hype”. The recent frenzy over MOOCs, he pointed out, ignored the excellent development work in e-learning over the last 15 years. He argued forcefully that the valuable findings of e-learning developers and practitioners should not be overlooked when rolling out the new MOOC offerings to vast audiences (the word “sunami” was often used in describing the effect of the MOOC movement on HE education worldwide).
While I understand Daniel’s point of view as one who has been designing and using virtual classrooms in my teaching and research and am cautious about some of the claims made for MOOCs, I believe the new interest in online learning is something to be applauded. It has very suddenly brought to the attention of universities worldwide the true implications for education that the ICT revolution has brought about. Like John Daniel, part of me thinks “I told you so” and another part says “At last! Thank goodness!”
It’s that second voice that makes me personally excited about the DUT decision to aim at having at least 50% of our programmes with an online component by the start of the 2015 academic year.
John Daniel’s kenote presentation: http://linc.mit.edu/linc2013/presentations/LINC2013Daniel.pdf