Should the adult education sector embrace MOOC culture?

Four education specialists debated a motion that the adult education sector should embrace MOOC culture.

Maren Deepwell, Chief Executive of Association for Learning Technology (ALT), spoke for the motion from personal participation experience. She argued that MOOCS are useful for those passionate about learning – lots of adults are embracing MOOCs and taking part around world, so the adult education should embrace it too. For Maren, MOOCs also offer a real opportunity in terms of reserch and data that the sector can use to learn more about how adults learn and to improve practice.

Fred Garnett, who has worked with adult vocational education teaching and learning since 1982 argued against MOOCs, but for e-learning. Fred explained that there’s no content which has solved the digital divide, what works is interest-driven learning. Learning should be participatory with user generated content and after MOOCs, learning must be fit for the content. He argued that MOOCs are e-enabling education, but not reinventing learning.

Peter Shukie, who is a Programme Leader at Blackburn University argued not for MOOCs, but for C(community)OOCs. He stated that MOOCs didn’t start anything new, but just recognise that people are already learning online. They do, however, enable both global and local reach and represent the sector’s need to share, not just the technology. Blackburn University’s development of a COOC, has enabled people to connect with eachother and embrace the idea of sharing content. His arguement is that everyone can teach and everyone can learn.

Shri Footring, Advisor at JISC RSC London – argued that taking into account learners’ many complex needs and the changing landscape of technology and its use in homes, online learning of all kinds and MOOCSs are opening up access. However, how can these different innovations be used to support those learners who need the most help? Shri believes that a blend of methods is required to make learning accessible and that MOOCs are just one tool to achieve this. She suggested the sector embraces technology to make something new and fit for all learners.

The debate was opened up to the floor and many interesting points were made following on from the arguements set out by the four panelists. The overall consensus was that ‘MOOCs’ means different things to different people and that instead of focussing on terminology, the sector needs to embrace all digital and online learning in order to become more inclusive to all learners.

The results of the public’s vote on the motion can be seen here.

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