Reflection on MOOCs

I’m not a fan of MOOCs. It is a fancy name for something we have been doing well at CQUniversity for decades – teaching distance students. I get a little frustrated when big universities present an online course as a novelty, as if they were the first to think of it. Meanwhile the distance and online universities have been operating in that space and refining the techniques. So the big universities come along and present a MOOC, falling into all of the traps that we have already overcome. Then we get to read about how MOOCs don’t work, that student engagement is limited, that you can’t learn effectively in an online environment. So, with my fairly cynical view of MOOCs firmly attached, I was interested to read about the MOOC for Citizen CSI at the University of Queensland. You can read about the course here I am a former police officer, and I am now a university lecturer in the distance space, so my interest has been piqued. I’ve enrolled in this MOOC. I’m curious. Will it be like the others? Or will there be something different about this one? I’m actually looking forward to it. The blurb from the university tells me that I only need to devote one or two hours a week to this eight week course. I’m not sure about what sort of content I can obtain in only an hour a week, but I’m willing to give it a go. I’ll maintain an open mind – the best outcome is that I find the content marvellously interesting AND I pick up a few techniques for my own distance students. Worst case is that I file this under learning experience. And actually, in fairness to the course itself, it is aimed at community members who just want to learn something – so I’ll keep in mind its purpose.