Are MOOCs suitable for engineering?


Most major universities are now experimenting with MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses).  Are these going to be widely used in Engineering?  If so, for what specific purposes?  Presumably the community will not be able to provide any hands-on experience using a MOOC, but what about Design?  And if we have Design MOOCs, how will we deal with the vast volume of qualitative assessment?


5 All Responses to “Are MOOCs suitable for engineering?”

  1. Hannah M

    I hate it when people start with semantics however…. I think the acronym MOOC is not helping thought on this topic. Online courses don’t have to be open and don’t have to be massive. Also online learning doesn’t have to be a whole course, but could be one part of a course. I believe that online learning is a no-brainer as a way to help large numbers of people, see for the first time, and possibly have some practice with, some of the content of engineering courses, in a cost efficient way. The advantage of being able to rewind and repeat and play whenever you have time, will help a more diverse student base access information (perhaps not understanding). Speaking as a global citizen, rather than someone that earns money from an institution that sells the possibility of understanding (universities), I think this is a good thing.

    • Peter Goodhew

      Good points, but the university world is (for the moment) fixated on MOOCs. The real long-term value of free on-line courses has yet to be demonstrated.

  2. Paul H

    Online content, whether massive or open or not should I feel only be considered as a complement to current practice. The direct interaction with fellow students and staff on campus should not be undervalued but perhaps the next generations will have a different view having grown up with these technologies in a different way from our more senior experiences.
    At some point there has to be a line drawn between the business and education worlds. There seems to be a desire to follow the facebook and Google model where you gather the users first and then figure out how to make money out of them. If this plays out as a free market scenario we will end up with a few key providers dominating the global HE sector which could be a path to stagnation.

  3. goodhew

    I am now considering whether to offer much of the content of this book/blog as a MOOC. There seem to be (literally) a million teachers of engineering in the world, most of them teaching or reading in English. If they have an average lifespan of 20 years (as teachers!) there must be 50,000 new teachers every year and if 1% of these are attracted to a MOOC designed to help them with their job, we would have 500 students, and – by the end of the course – probably more than 1000 comments. Then I could prepare a really useful third edition!

  4. Sanae

    Debbie, those are very good points. Keep in mind, toghuh, that my main point in this post was to identify barriers’ between current state and self-sustaining models, leading me to think that upcoming generations of MOOCs (or derivatives) could be self-sustaining. I do not consider low completion rates of current MOOCs to be a problem’. However, I do not think that venture capitalists are in this for informal personal learning networks with no revenue models. The funding will go away if that is all that MOOCs become, thus not self-sustaining. It’s wonderful that people are learning and that there is value in current MOOCs, but I’m expecting the model to change as the experiment continues. While you make another good point that connectivist MOOCs do not have the return-on-investment challenge, I would argue that to become self-sustaining these models need to extend beyond a handful of north american innovators. Where is the adoption of the connectivist model by others? 5 10 people investing time for a common purpose’ is not a self-sustaining model. Furthermore, I would also point out that some of the innovators themselves describe MOOCs as an experiment.Per George Siemens: It is important to realize that MOOCs are not (yet) an answer to any particular problem. They are an open and ongoing experiment. They are an attempt to play with models of teaching and learning that are in synch with the spirit of the internet. As with any research project, it is unlikely that they will be adopted wholesale in traditional universities. Most likely, bits and pieces will be adopted into different teaching models. Do you see adoption of the c-MOOC model outside of the original handful of innovators ? That is an honest question I have not seen it yet.


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