Loveless MOOCs

Teaching & Learning
Is there a paradigm shift to learning in higher education or are universities going to continue focusing on content delivery and expect teachers to instruct and teach? What do we want our students to be able to do and where do we want them to be once they complete a course? Do we want them to repeat information or use the information to create and become innovators of new information?

Loveless Classes
Have we lost the human touch? Are we using technology or is technology using us? Have we lost the human touch in education?

Free Learning on the Internett
Universities have finally realized that students are getting information for free on the Internet. The Internet is the source of information, not the instructor standing on the podium in the lecture halls. This must have caused concern for the universities because they were paying faculty to share information with students, who were paying to get the information, but the students found class time useless. Would this be the end of institutions of learning?

Is this video a threat to universities?
Did Michael Wesch start a revolution when he dared to share what students thought of their university classes?

Open Education Resources (OER)
The Internet and free online learning on Wikipedia, Wikiuniversity, and Wikieducator and the Open Education Resources (OER) university, Moodle (Free Open Source) course and learning management system, faculty blogs, and other teachers who were teaching online for free were becoming a major threat to the existence of the traditional campus-based organizations. Instead of joining forces with the OER movement or starting a serious fully online or blended learning programs with Moodle (free), retraining faculty on how to teach, or firing faculty and rehiring educators who put the learning first and didn’t follow the teacher-centered approach to instruction and learning, the elite universities decided to start their own MOOCs using Coursera (a private courses system) that was developed for the universities. The attitude the elite universities are choosing to take is “if you can’t join them, break them”.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Why the mad rush to develop coursera for the new kinds of MOOCs? There is a trend for a new kind of MOOC. The new elite Coursera MOOC is different from the original ones created by Geroge Siemens and Stephen Downes from 2008-2012. The old MOOCs were based on the idea of connectivism while the new are based on content sharing or the traditional teacher knows best model where teaching drives the process.

Why the change?
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) began with the idea of connecting for learning via personal learning environments (PLEs) using blogs, wikis, google groups, and Moodle. According to Wikipedia, the term MOOC is said to have started in 2008 by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander “in response to an open online course designed and lead by George Siemens and Stephen Downes” (wikipedia). However, MOOCs have changed from the idea of connecting with others for learning to the more traditional content delivery format as demonstrated by Khan’s Academy, MIT’s and Standford.

Live Face-to-face Class
Connectivsm is about connecting with people. Going fully online is a great idea, but where is the live face-to-face online interactions in these new MOOCs that the elite universities are offering via Coursera? It would be great if they could add a live online class such as WizIQ. Learning requires love and the you matter attitude that you can only get when you see and hear people in a conversation. I was there at the beginning and wonder where are we heading with the change from the old to the new MOOCs?. Perhaps we should reformulate and focus on active authentic learning by adding a live online class to the equation. Barr & Tagg’s seem to have a few answers on learning and what it means.

Create Great Courses
Udacity was created by Stanford, but maybe they were not happy with it since they are now affiliated with Coursera. Coursera is not Open Source like Moodle and it’s not available for teachers to use as Moodle is. Coursera is only available for students. The courses developed by Coursera are limited because they only add content and discussions. Is that enough when MOOCs have over 100,000 participants? Are these MOOCs aiming to turn students into numbers? Is learning about information? Is this the way the universities are going to regain the control they lost? Are they taking us back in time? Are the MOOCs being created by Harvard and MIT not taking us back to the age-old teacher-information control with teach-to-the test exam taking, get your degree paradigm? Where is support going to come from for the participants in the MOOCs?

Loving Support for Learning
In a WizIQ conversation, Michael Wesch mentioned that he meditates on love before going to class at his university. Nellie Deutsch added that she does the same both in her online and face-to-face classes. How is love connected to instruction and learning? Do teachers need to develop a bond with their students for effective learning? The positive emotions teachers carry with them when they interact with students and faculty whether online or face-to-face is important. According to Sugata Mitra, in the famous “hole-in-the-wall” experiment, students can learn on their own when they are provided with curiosity and wonder, but they need the “cheerleader” as in the Granny project to be able to sustain learning.

Meditating on Love in the Classroom

What is Granny Cloud?
Technology may not be enough, effective learning requires support and love. According to research conducted by Sugata Mitra, learning cannot work without a loving supportive mechanism. Sugata Mitra and his team recruit volunteers to provide loving support through live online classes to groups of students from rural areas around the world.


Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.


  1. Today it’s Coursera, Coursites, Moodle, WizIQ, Wikispaces Wikieducator, Mightybell or Mentormob. Tomorrow it’s going to be on facebook. MOOCs are a marketing strategy that brings numbers and ratings. Forget about quality. Money is not there. You go where there’s money. We are driven by money because that’s how we pay the bills. So, let’s improve MOOCs by adding quality to the equation. What do you think?

    • It’s already on FB, or not? Facebook is the MOOSC Massive Open Online Social Classroom, isn’t it? A place everyone passes the message they want. My e-learning process goes from my real friends to my online friends (or vice-versa). Just as in the real word, the quality of our work is the result of all your past/ present connections. In the virtual world, quality also depends on our connections. For those who can afford, the finest education is reserved for them. How about the ones who cannot afford it?

      • Leo, this is the best acronym for FB that I have seen, related to education: MOOSC and it sure is. However, there is something to be said about certain things in the education system that still hold some value: the teacher himself, that he needs to be paid and tools and processes like assessments, certifications etc. Now, one might be able to use FB in such ways, but it surely wasn’t built for this. So, although connections make learning important, other things are important too.
        I would also like to point toward the possible answer to your affordability question. It is definitely a key question, the answer to which could change the world however, I do believe that free is not the answer. Sponsored, may be? I have been trying to reach an answer to this question for years and so far I think charity is that and it has always been. The problem has been about the reach and making transparent systems for such charitable education that truly reaches a large number of people. With the possibility of scalability that Internet offers, I think charitable, quality education is possible that can reach a large number of people that all of us want.

      • Great point about FB.

    • Dr. Deutsch
      You know me .
      MITx and now MITx+Harvardx is not a MOOC. MIT started MITx in 2001 as OCW and now followed by 100,000,000 people in the world . MIT has a long range plan than anybody in this field . MITx was a right thing to do so that Harvard followed MIT .
      Quality of MITx is just perfect and we do not need any human touch, any eye contact. Please follow the first course 6.002
      Nobody would argue about the quality of MIT and Harvard .
      They have the best and most valued accumulated knowledge in the world .
      They want to share this knowledge with the world .
      Therefore they can attract millions in the world .
      Therefore cost per course becomes nill. Imagine even investment for one course development is $ 1 million, and if it can be shared by only 20,000 students in 5 years or 2000 students per semester investment cost is only $ 50 per student . Add to that recurring cost of another $ 50 , total $ 100 per course for MIT and Harvard quality can be paid by everyone in the world .
      Excdept Bengaldesh students .
      Therefore MITx is not free.
      I say schools beyond top schools should not attempt online . In fact MITx+Harvardx is enough for 1 billion, they say not me .
      MITx+Harvardx is unique and a solution for the world .
      It has nothing to do with MOOC .
      Only they can attract millions of students in the world . And they know it .

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