Fortune magazine argues that MOOCs still offer great benefits but as the recent University of Pennsylvania study demonstrated, MOOCs are not living up to the hype. I've been in several MOOCs and even if the content is great, I see no real advantage in the format that one couldn't just as well achieve with a well-stocked university library, the Great Courses series, and YouTube. But, all that is information. What is needed to turn information into knowledge?
According to Davenport, there are four Cs in converting information into knowledge:
- Comparison of information
- Consequences of information
- Connections of information
- Conversation of information
These four Cs require people to interact with each other to share their pieces of information and convert the pieces into actionable knowledge. That is why MOOCs don't work. The MOOCs have discussion forums but that only gives the appearance of interactions. I have yet to see a true meeting of minds that signify engagement with the material and fellow learners. Basically, what you have is the large lecture course magnified a 100 times over. You might as well try having a class discussion in a fully-packed football stadium.
That is why 2014 will be the year of the Small Private Online Course - SPOCs. Because, real education is all about engaging students.