MOOCs, Motivation, and the Mass Movement toward Open Education

Curtis Bonk led a session about MOOCs at Learning 2012. His slides are available at TrainingShare (this is the direct link). His presentation must have been one of the most insanely paced sessions I have ever been to. That is a compliment by the way.

What is a MOOC? Start here:


Curtis’ presentation consisted of four parts.

Part I. Past Year Recap of MOOC and MOOC Leadership

MOOCs are very much in the news nowadays. For example the conversation with Bill Gates or the Holy Apostles. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice timeline and even Newt Gingrich has one. The MOOC that probably got the most attention was Stanford’s class on Artificial Intelligence. Something that I hadn’t heard of before earlier this week is the Floating University.

Daphne Koller’s TED talk was probably the thing about MOOCs that got the most play:


Curtis runs his own MOOCs too. He uses tools like Piazza and Course networking.

If you want to be a leader in the MOOC space then there are a few things you could do. Each of the following points was backed up by some news item or article:

  1. Be first
  2. Offer something novel
  3. Define brand
  4. Take risks
  5. Rethink your classes
  6. Inspire your team
  7. Form partnerships
  8. Offer incentives
  9. Set bold audacious goals
  10. Create media attention
  11. Build on strengths and niche areas
  12. Do not make rash decisions
  13. Be pro-active in addressing concerns
  14. Give something away
  15. Look way ahead
  16. Expanding marketss
  17. Ask questions

Part II. MOOC Instructor Guidelines

Next Bonk discussed a few guidelines for instructors of MOOCs:

  1. Plan and Prepare
  2. Designate Feedback Providers and Tasks
  3. Offer Ample Feedback in Week One
  4. Use Peer, Machine, Volunteer and Self-assessment
  5. Gather geographic data
  6. Use a Warm and Friendly Tone
  7. Form Groups and Social Supports
  8. Arrive early for Sync Session
  9. Allocata Ample time for Questions and Feedback
  10. Share Resources
  11. Personalize
  12. Use Polling Questions
  13. Check Chat Window for Comments and Questions
  14. Reflect After Each Session
  15. Offer Weekly Recaps and Podcasts

Part III. Type of MOOCs

We are alreading seeing a whole set of different MOOCs. His attempt at a typology is here:

  1. Alternative Admissions Systems or Hiring System MOOC
  2. Just-in-Tme Skills and Competencies MOOC
  3. Theory- or Trend-Driven MOOC
  4. Professional Development (practical) MOOC
  5. Loss Leader (dip toe in water) MOOC
  6. Experimental MOOC
  7. Have to look it up
  8. Personality MOOC
  9. Name Branding MOOC
  10. Rotating MOOC
  11. Repeatable MOOC
  12. Reusable MOOC

Part IV. Business models

This was a part that I was interested in. What are the business models behind MOOCs? How can they be sustainable? Bonk has come up with the following (incomplete list):

  1. Advertisements
  2. Small and flexible application/enrollment fee
  3. Course assessment fee
  4. Certificate fee
  5. Enhanced Course Fee
  6. Option for full university credit
  7. Company sponsored
  8. Percent of first year salary (sell companies names and contact details of high performers)
  9. Sell or Lease Courses (for example to community colleges)
  10. Share Revenues

I think he missed an important value driver: the (aggregated) data of all the participants. We already see that university are not calling MOOC participants “students” because they don’t want to have to account to FERPA¬†and I can see universities monetizing that data quite easily as a consequence.

Some more things from Curtis

Curtis has created a set of Creative Commons licensed videos about how to teach online. Well worth a look.

His next book is is about a learning framework that he has titled: TEC-Variety:

TEC-Variety Model
TEC-Variety Model

Finally check out his book: The World is Open:

The World is Open
The World is Open