MOOCs, online learning and disruption #ARP2016

MOOCs, online learning and the disruption of traditional education

Hans T. Zeiner Henriksen, University of Oslo

regular_8f559671-be48-458a-b427-c36a4b381b50ABSTRACT: Many large global industries have the last decade experienced major challenges in their way of operating caused by various forms of digitalization. Uber, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes and Spotify are all distributors of products and services that provide easy and inexpensive access to products and services without really producing anything themselves. In higher education business as usual is the general tendency, but the concern of new developments is starting to spread. Coursera, Udacity, edX and many others provide courses of high quality that reaches many students across the globe.
Music production courses are popular and are provided by several of these distributors (ex.: Introduction to Music Production from Berklee at Coursera). The Department of Musicology, in cooperation with the Department of Educational Technology, launched the first self-made MOOC at the University of Oslo via the virtual learning platform at FutureLearn for the first time in Febraury-March this year. It will be launched again in September- October, then in connection with an on-campus Bachelor course. In this presentation the future of traditional education will be discussed on the basis of our experience from producing and running a MOOC.

Hans begins with a description of MOOCs and an overview of providers via Coursera and EDx, focussing on Berklee’s Music Production courses – we see Prince Charles Alexander’s course as an example.

The next example is a basic mic patterns lesson from, leading us to a contextual discussion of the ‘digital revolution’ generally, which includes a brief history of the recording industry’s Napster response and various legal challenges to Uber. [These are presumably simply general examples of disruption].

Hans infers that MOOCs represent similar disruption, applied to music education. FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson is cited; he has said that he views the change [to Higher Ed] as incremental rather than sudden.

Commenting now on online learning more generally, the Flipped Classroom approach is outlined and contrasted with both traditional lectures and also with MOOCs. Hans provides a personal example from his own teaching. He notes the feedback limitations that are in the nature of MOOCs, and describes the peer-feedback method that is substituted.

Hans now walks us through the 2-year development timeline of one of his own MOOCs at the University of Oslo. The original idea was to pursue Norwegian Black Metal, but the team speculated that a more generic ‘Music and Movement’ topic might attract more learners (they were using FutureLearn as a platform). [JB note – I would have soooo signed up for a Black Metal MOOC!]. He makes the point that making a MOOC is a massive commitment and it’s important to get the subject matter right.

He notes that MOOCs have copyright challenges, and mentions that his own MOOCs required original music to be composed and new recordings to be made. This is followed by a walkthrough of the production process, including scripting, shooting, teleprompter work and subtitling. In November the trailer was released. The initial launch attracted over 2000 learners from all over the world, and Hans shows us some interesting screenshots of user contributions and discussion boards. Like all MOOCs, user engagement declines over time and retention is low (Hans shows a graph which, to me, actually looks like pretty good retention for a MOOC).

This particular MOOC was, unusually, incorporated into some on-campus learning, and became part of the materials for a flipped-classroom course.

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