Ideas behind the MOOCs

George Siemens is one of the most prominent proponents of MOOCs at present.  While I’m not convinced by all the links that he draws between innovative education and changes in society, in this TED talk he does provide a powerful explanation of the thinking behind new approaches to learning online (the course for educators that he describes is a MOOC)

For as long as distance education has been available (and that includes correspondence courses going back at least as far as the 19th century) much of it has been devoted to providing education to groups who wouldn’t have been reached by more traditional approaches.  An interesting consequence of the interest in electronic tools for learning is the number of influential thinkers who are based in remote parts of Australia or Canada, or who work with students who might be classed as ‘widening participation’  Working inAthabasca University, which is an established distance learning institution based in Canada, George Siemens falls into both these categories, though the TED talk is worth a browse for the bit at 2:47 where he explains where he comes from originally, and why that matters.

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