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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

MOOCs "on trial" at the Manchester Salon


Image from Trident2000 via Wikimedia Commons


On Monday I attended a discussion and debate about MOOCs as part of the Manchester Salon at the very lovely International Anthony Burgess Foundation. The Manchester Salon is a regular discussion forum that examines a range of topical and political issues. For each discussion a panel is assembled to offer a variety of viewpoints on the issue and then the topic is opened up to the floor for discussion and debate. I was asked to attend as a member of the panel as at ScHARR we have recently run three MOOCs, the first at the University of Sheffield.

I was joined on the panel by Prof Dennis Hayes from the University of Derby, John Hutchinson, associate lecturer at the Open University and Joe Gadzula, lecturer at the University of Bolton.

The discussion was open and wide-ranging, taking in overarching issues around whether "education" can ever be delivered online, as opposed to mere "instruction". There was also discussion about online learning and its role in contemporary higher education, with the points ranging from those who feel online learning is eroding and diminishing higher education to those who feel that it has opened up HE to a wider audience. At the end of the evening there were calls for a more precise definition of what a MOOC is (though given that there was discussion around what 'education' itself is, defining MOOCs may be neither feasible nor necessary).

The event was recorded and you can watch it at:  http://youtu.be/uZXIcPcu80E

I enjoyed the experience and the challenge of having to think on my feet and defend the MOOC concept. I'd certainly recommend having a look at the Manchester Salon programme of events- it was an interesting evening!

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