Oral Presentation – Evolution & Impact of MOOCs Research Project

On March 6 I successfully defended my dissertation research, The Evolution & Impact of the Massive Open Online Course at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education & Psychology.  The dissertation committee consisted of Linda Polin, Anthony Collatos and Bryan Alexander, and Mikhail Gersovich was kind enough to sit in as well as record the presentation.

You can listen while viewing the slides from SlideShare

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The Evolution & Impact of Massive Open Online Courses – Final Oral Presentation for Doctorate in Education from robemoco
The audio bounces around 12 minutes and goes back to the beginning, so my discussion of implications is not there, but it mirrors pretty heavily what is in the final slides.
Most meaningful to me was the discussion we had about the research project after my presentation.  Bryan Alexander asked my thoughts on the Delphi research instrument, which I found to be a methodologically sound instrument but a difficult one to utilize for several reasons:  the mix of qualitative and quantitative within my study was not common in existing education Delphi studies, participants were reticent to discuss topics engaging multiple arguments, and the length of time between my preliminary clearance and the running of the study meant the MOOC phenomenon had changed somewhat in relation to the prompts (though I am pleased that some of the prompts are being discussed now as if they are novel arguments in the phenomenon).  Looking back, I would likely run a Delphi again rather than interviews, but could see the value of interviews in a project that needs to run and gain publishing more quickly.
Tony Collatos asked about the shift in critical theory from Chapter 2 (where there is a heavy presence) to Chapter 4 (where it is discussed implicitly).  This relates to a problem I noted in the Delphi — the reluctance of participants to engage in the prompts that evoke multiple arguments.  While participants were instructed to respond to the prompt not as a factual statement but as a value proposition within a shifting phenomenon, participants expressed concern about these double barrel questions.  The lack of engagement on these sociocultural prompts meant the Delphi shifted more towards instrumental, political and economic factors.  There is a critical argument to tease out of the data, but for this project I decided to focus more on what was being said rather than what it meant that certain arguments were passed over and why.
We discussed the results of #expertise, the prompt based on Sebastian Thrun’s quote there are no online education experts.  Bryan asked me why I thought this prompt did not gain a quick consensus, and I explained what existed in the data:  several people freely interchanged MOOC with Online Learning, several people were unaware of the volume of online learning research, several people saw the data of online learning as soft, and one person questioned the notion of expertise in a field like education, which is built on social community rather than universal law.
The rest of the discussion focused on where to take this research.  The MOOC movement is awash in data and research, but the vast majority looks at the MOOC as a learning system or instrument.  I argue in my dissertation that the MOOC, which many scholars believe in a negotiable term where each letter of the acronym is up for debate, cannot be defined as a learning system because of this ambiguity…so a phenomenological definition is necessary.  Taking the thoughts of this expert panel on political, social and cultural attitudes as well as the traditional educational ones lends to seeing how this phenomenon is viewed and thus shaped within our world.  Expect more of this discussion that uses research to discuss the social structure of education.
Posted on: March 7, 2014admin