International Review of Education

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 179–195 | Cite as

Upscaling the number of learners, fragmenting the role of teachers: How do massive open online courses (MOOCs) form new conditions for learning design?

  • Mie Buhl
  • Lars Birch Andreasen
  • Karanam Pushpanadham
Original Paper

Abstract

The proliferation and expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) prompts a need to revisit classical pedagogical questions. In what ways will MOOCs facilitate and promote new e-learning pedagogies? Is current learning design adequate for the “massiveness” and “openness” of MOOCs? This article discusses the ways in which MOOCs create new conditions for designing learning processes. The authors present various theoretical approaches to learning design and discuss a combination of theoretical perspectives. They discern a fragmentation of the teacher role; where the teacher was once the main person responsible for planning, practice and reflection, those activities may now be performed by different actors with different areas of responsibility. The theoretical discussion is complemented by a review of recent studies of new practices and design formats aiming to overcome the upscaling issues of MOOCs. The authors present a multifaceted picture of MOOC methodologies, including a typology of hybrid approaches to MOOC design. Through the example of MOOC implementation in India, they address the integration of MOOCs into formal higher education systems. They conclude their article with the contention that, through upscaling, important facets of students’ intellectual development and critical thinking might be left to the students themselves. This may cause problems. Adequate scaffolding from a teacher, such as adapting activities to the specific situation, might be needed to develop the skills required to be a self-directed learner. Furthermore, upscaling seems to promote a separation of the formerly unified teacher functions of planning, teaching and assessing, which necessitates increased collaboration among the many new actors in the field of pedagogy.

Keywords

massive open online courses (MOOCs) in higher education teacher roles designing learning processes instructional design learning design course design 

Résumé

Multiplier le nombre d’apprenants, fragmenter le rôle des enseignants : comment les formations en ligne ouvertes à tous (FLOT) créent de nouvelles conditions pour la conception pédagogique – La prolifération et l’expansion des formations en ligne ouvertes à tous (FLOT) entraînent la nécessité de réexaminer les questions pédagogiques classiques. Dans quelle mesure les FLOT faciliteront et favoriseront-elles de nouvelles pédagogies d’apprentissage électronique ? La conception pédagogique actuelle se prête-t-elle à la « massivité » et à l’« ouverture » des FLOT ? Cet article examine de quelles manières les FLOT créent de nouvelles conditions pour la conception des processus d’apprentissage. Les auteurs présentent diverses approches théoriques de la conception pédagogique et analysent un ensemble de perspectives théoriques. Ils perçoivent une fragmentation du rôle de l’enseignant : si celui-ci était autrefois principal responsable de la programmation, de la pratique et de la réflexion, ces activités peuvent aujourd’hui être assumées par différents acteurs investis de différents domaines de responsabilité. L’analyse théorique est complétée par un recensement des études récentes sur les nouvelles pratiques et formes de conception visant à résoudre les problèmes d’échelle des FLOT. Les auteurs présentent une image pluridimensionnelle des méthodologies des FLOT, dont une typologie d’approches hybrides pour leur conception. À travers l’exemple de la réalisation des FLOT en Inde, ils abordent la question de leur intégration dans les systèmes formels d’enseignement supérieur. Ils concluent leur article par l’affirmation qu’en raison de la massification, d’importants aspects du développement intellectuel et de la pensée critique pourraient être abandonnés aux seuls étudiants. Cette tendance pourrait créer des problèmes. Un soutien approprié de la part de l’enseignant, tel que des activités d’adaptation à la situation spécifique, pourrait être requis pour développer les compétences nécessaires à un apprenant auto-dirigé. En outre, la massification semble favoriser une séparation des fonctions auparavant concentrées chez l’enseignant, à savoir programmation, enseignement et évaluation, ce qui nécessite une coopération accrue entre les nombreux nouveaux acteurs présents sur la scène pédagogique.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This article was developed within the framework of the ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning (ASEM LLL Hub) Research Network 1: Development of ICT skills, e-learning and the culture of e-learning in Lifelong Learning (e-ASEM).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature, and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mie Buhl
    • 1
  • Lars Birch Andreasen
    • 1
  • Karanam Pushpanadham
    • 2
  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.The M.S. University of BarodaVadodaraIndia

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