National MOOC policy needed to protect academics

Posted By TEU on May 29, 2014 | 2 comments


Tertiary Update Vol 17 No 16

Any discussion on MOOCs needs to consider not just what they mean for learners and employers but for tertiary education staff too, says TEU national president Lesley Francey.

A MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is defined by Wikipedia as an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web.

In the lead up to a ministerial summit on technological issues facing tertiary education, the Ministry of Education has released a discussion paper on MOOCs.

The minister was a late arrival to the discussion of MOOCs. His first public mention of MOOCs appears to have been October last year, just weeks before Sebastian Thrun founder of one of the world’s biggest MOOCs Udacity, described MOOCs as a ‘lousy product’.

Nevertheless, Mr Joyce, with his ministerial summit next month, has joined the discussion on MOOCS now. Lesley Francey says there are a number of ethical issues for him to consider about how the government regulates and manages MOOCs in New Zealand.

“One of those issues is what happens to the tertiary education workforce. If MOOCs do not focus on high quality learning with genuine student-teacher interaction, there is a real risk that permanent lecturing and research staff will be replaced with cheaper, casualised staff from around the world who process, mark and administer the online learners.”

“The Minister of Education’s discussion paper on MOOCs raises some of these questions. We look forward to seeing some ministerial commitment to finding the answers.”

Meanwhile, in Montreal, the higher education session at the Education International OECD conference has roundly condemned MOOCS according to TEU’s national secretary Sharn Riggs. Participants were scathing of MOOCs’ dismal completion and pass rates and because there is no “teaching” being done.

Education International is the global body representing education unions around the world including TEU.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Enrolments show students leaving public for private
  2. Yet another creative arts review at MIT
  3. Employers need to own skills mismatch
  4. Lower fees for more scientists and engineers

Other news

Government figures show Māori and Pasifika are taking longer to pay their student loans back and earn far less than Pakeha when they enter the workforce – Radio NZ

Empty British classrooms expose flaws in private colleges boom – The Guardian

Protestors gathered at a rally in front of Alfred Nathan House at the University of Auckland on Friday as a formal submission against the university’s administrative restructuring was handed in – Te Waha Nui

Families with newborn babies can expect an increase in parental leave payments from 1 July this year. The maximum amount of parental leave payment for eligible employees will increase from $488.17 to $504.10 a week – Department of Labour

The president of the Auckland District Law Society is concerned the changes to university councils could affect the international reputations of our universities. “There’s a risk that the standards will drop – educational standards – and therefore our ratings will drop.” – TV3 News

Fading chance of wider dairy access in US and Japan begs question what we will actually gain under any Transpacific Partnership deal – New Zealand Herald

Women will suffer disproportionately from the Australian government’s decision to apply real interest to student debts for the first time, new modelling shows – The Age

New enrolments in apprenticeship training have grown by 24 per cent since 2012 following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Reboot scheme last year – Steven Joyce

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