Post #2: Network of UNESCO Chairs in ICT and Education: Inside MOOCs. Methodology as a backbone

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MOOCs face a number of challenges (8, to be precise), before they can be effectively used: accreditation, credit recognition, monetization, content quality, methodology quality, evaluation, integration of informal and formal learning, integration of Open Educational Resources into the official curriculum.

Furthermore, we need to clarify what a MOOC is for; why MOOCs are taking over the long-tradition role of Open Educational Resources (which mean way further than just MOOCs); how to integrate MOOCs into the educational methodology and learning strategy in face-to-face, blended and online learning settings; how to merge formal and informal learning into a combined, successful support to learners, teachers and tutors.

In addition, MOOCs require a clear, cross-mission, which highlights the need for basic and specific competence acquisition, as a complement to the current courses, very much focused on personal interests and the provision of additional information to current subjects. MOOCs might be a lethal tool to fight against the lack of access, equity, quality, and resources on learning, for disadvantaged individuals, regions and countries. To do so, MOOCs must be oriented to the competences and skills achievement that make possible to revert the situation, when needed (Qingdao Declaration of Post-2015 Education

We will write more extensively about some of these challenges in later posts. However, among them, we focus on methodology in this post. Methodology becomes the foundation to build the others. Indeed, along all these insights, needs and risks, methodology becomes the actual backbone for success. When, and if, a MOOC leans or might lean on the above principles, methodology becomes the key for addressing various learner types, target groups, learning styles, and learning itineraries, as part of a long list of learner inputs. Through methodology, a teacher becomes a learning designer, who takes into a comprehensive rationale every single input and resource, step and result, which is part of a MOOC. And the learner can take over his/her responsibility as main role along the learning process; he can even become learning designer for himself.

ICTs are just a tool, MOOCs are just a means. Methodology are the core to get learning closer to the learner, and to get a higher efficiency closer to the teacher. Of course that ICTs facilitate and magnify (or may facilitate and may magnify) depending on how we use it; of course that a good MOOC bridges knowledge to a large amount of people. But the methodology, the learning and teaching model underneath, makes the difference.

By: Daniel Burgos. June 2nd, 2015