2014: The Make or Break Year for MOOCs and Big Data?

So I know in the past that I have tried everything from serious predictions of the immediate future to crazy futurist predictions of the next decade to mocking the whole idea of predicting the future (how long can gaming be 1-2 years from emerging anyways?). I debated whether I should do anything for 2014, especially since there were several good predictions out there already.

Being a bit pf a pragmatist myself, I think the future of online learning is a bit less predictable than it has been in the past. Online learning is certainly on the radars of a lot more people than it was a few years ago, but many of those people are not happy at all with what they are seeing in MOOCs. I would point out that many of the problems that people are seeing with MOOCs deals more with administrative mismanagement of implementation and funding than with the actual idea. If you are really dropping $150,000-300,000 per class to develop a MOOC, then you missed the whole point of the idea in the first place.

For me, I am not really convinced that MOOCs are going to bounce back OR die completely. What I really think is that, as a field, Ed Tech is in uncharted waters here and we really don’t know where we are heading next. So it is hard to say what will happen. I think 2014-2015 will be make or break years for open learning (and big data for that matter). Will we emerge from the valley of disillusionment? I don’t think we really have any clue to know for sure or not. Will MOOCs fade off into the Google Wave sunset, with a promise that the good core ideas will survive… but then they really don’t? I don’t know if we know that for certain, either.

I do think we have a good break with all of this dissatisfaction to jump into the conversation and say “yes, this whole idea of business ideas and MOOCs is horrible, but here are the things about open learning that are good (and have been good since ancient times)”. But let’s face it, too many people sat on their rears trying to play nice with the new xMOOCs for the last few years, and if that happens again we’ll all continue to get lumped in the same category with capitalist ventures that are declared failures by their own creators.

For me, I am still going to be championing the less popular ideas that need more attention, like Heutagogy, Sociocultural theory, Learning and Teaching as Communicative Actions, taking control of your Digital Identity, and rethinking learning design to be truly online and not just digitized classrooms. My main prediction for 2014 is that these ideas will continue to be ignored while other fancier, shinier ideas get championed by the cool Ed Tech kids :)

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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