Open Courses, Informal, Social Learning and Mobile Photography

Open Courses, Informal, Social Learning and Mobile Photography

Mark McGuire (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJMBL.2016100102
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This paper provides an overview of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and contextualizes them within the broader trends of open, informal and mobile learning. It then discuss Phonar Nation, a free, open, non-credit five-week photography course that was offered twice in 2014 using mobile media to reach youth from 12-18 years of age. The author argues that Phonar Nation highlights several related developments that are leading to positive innovations in education. Firstly, it is not only open access but also uses and produces Creative Commons-licensed content that is open to be shared. Secondly, it is collaborative in the way that it is taught and in the way that participants are encouraged to engage with one another through social media sites. Thirdly, Phonar Nation exemplifies an approach that advocates call “Connected Learning”, which is socially embedded, driven by personal interests, and oriented to further educational and economic opportunities.
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Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs)

In The Big Switch, Nicolas Carr draws a parallel between the electrification of America in the late 19th century and the development of computing as a utility at the end of the 20th century. The electrical grid and the resulting centralization and concentration of production, labour and capital supported large-scale factory production and the development of the modern corporation. Pervasive digital networks and computing as a utility will, Carr believes, have a similarly transformational effect on institutions, the nature of work, and personal identity in the future (2009). As early as 1995, just two years after Mosaic, the first graphical browser for the World Wide Web, was released, Professor Eli Noam argued that changes in the way that information was produced and distributed were “undermining the traditional flow of information and with it the university structure.” He believed that the traditional university had a “dim future” (Noam, 1995).

Recent experiments with large-scale distributed, online education and courses suggest that, if not “dim”, the future for post-secondary institutions is likely to be significantly different. The popularity of a variety of alternative models that have thrived outside of the walls of academia suggests that the external forces for change might eventually overwhelm internal efforts to maintain the institutional status quo. Public universities have not yet demonstrated that they are able to, or even see the need for, change from within. The danger is that, by the time they recognize that fundamental innovation is not just desirable, but necessary, it may no longer matter — they may have already ceded their privileged position as public providers of higher education to a variety of fast moving for-profit corporations, public/private hybrids and privately-funded non-profit entities that have succeeded in attracting customers, public support and, if they are smart, public funding.

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