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MOOCs – Hype or Trend?

May 7, 2013


Just recently I was asked to define the difference about a hype and a trend, refering among others to MOOCs. My initial thought was hypes are bigger, being asked to illustrate further I had to think a little closer to describe my initial thought in more detail. I started comparing a hype with a pandemic and a trend with an epidemic. I know it might be a strange comparison, but I cannot deny my healthcare profession 😉

Hypes are big, they grow fast – skyrocket, but they might be short-lived. It is comparable with soap-bubble that will burst. Yet, a hype might become a trend. Consequently a trend is longer lasting; it is more stable and might not burst as quickly as a hype.

Well, that is my personal interpretation, not sure whether you agree or disagree. However, it will be exciting to persist with MOOCs and see how they develop. Will MOOCs disappear from the NMC Horizon Report as quickly as it appeared or will MOOCs affect education in the long-term?

Time will show. 3d small people - alarm clock

From → #COER13

  1. A MOOC might be best seen as a marketing tool and recruitment platform, whilst also FREE, their justification will be to give the institution producing them a profile, while also indicating to this institution the wealth of highly able students ‘out there’ to whom regular, campus-based or online distance learning can be offered or to whom a grant, full bursary or scholarship can be offered.

  2. Hi Sylvia. I have a couple observations about this, prefaced by an acknowledgement that it’s foolish to try and predict the future. But here goes . . .

    1. I have read several dozen newspaper articles and blog posts in the last few months calling MOOCs hype, and I’ve never seen one of them where the author had actually enrolled in a MOOC. The same articles often refer in a mocking way to outrageous claims made by proponents of MOOCs, but they never quote any of those proponents. I’m not aware of any serious person who actually has hyped MOOCs. Therefore it seems to me that we are only considering the question of whether MOOCs are hype because of name-calling and straw-man arguments made by people who are uninformed and not arguing in good faith.

    2. I think it would take a lot of effort to hype MOOCs — to exaggerate them, that is. When someone does enroll in a MOOC, as I know you have, they encounter a tremendous energy from a tremendous number of people eager for the opportunity to learn. There is no other educational environment that is producing that response. The response may be misguided. All those students may be dupes. (I don’t think so.) The response may dissipate like a fad. (I don’t think so.) But that response is genuine, and if someone witnesses it, it’s not possible to dismiss MOOCs so easily.

    So my foolish prediction is that MOOCs are going to have an impact on education — a big one. Developments might take MOOCs and online learning in another direction, but MOOCs have the ball rolling with a lot of momentum.

    Robert McGuire
    Editor, MOOC News and Reviews

    • Hi Robert,

      considering the growing numbers of MOOC platforms around the globe I agree with you that MOOCs are not short-lived, but will make or already made an impact in education. However, it remains to be seen how high quality the different platforms are. Your website MOOCs News & Reviews offers a great chance to find out more about MOOC courses from around the world. Keep up your good work 🙂

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