Blog · MOOCs

Los MOOC, en la cresta de la ola

Mooc Hysteria
Mooc Hysteria. CowDogBlog.

Hablar de MOOC (Cursos Masivos Abiertos Online) (me refiero a los xMOOC, no a los cMOOC (diferencias)) está tan de moda que empieza a ser un fenómeno digno de estudio. Me refiero a estudiar por qué están de moda, no a los MOOCs en sí (los cMOOC originales), que me parecen muy interesantes para la pedagogía desde hace varios años. Unos meses atrás, en novienbre de 2012, Les Schmidt publicó una entrada en Uncharted Waters titulada MOOCs Near the Peak of Inflated Expectations (está traducida al castellano en America, Learning & Media con el título MOOCs: cerca del pico máximo de expectativas infladas) en la que incluyó la figura de abajo en la que situaba el presente (noviembre de 2012) cerca de la cumbre de las expectativas infladas. Tras el ascenso, si el modelo de Gartner en el que se basa la figura se cumple, asistiremos a su caída en la «fosa de la desilusión».


Las razones por las que Les Schmidt afirmaba que los xMOOC están tan cerca de la «cumbre de expectativas infladas» eras diversas y pueden verse en el artículo citado. Lo que no suele ser evidente es quién infla las expectativas y a qué intereses responde dicho comportamiento. Veamos un ejemplo reciente.

En las últimas semanas hemos asistido a la publicación de diversos informes sobre «el fenómeno xMOOC». Es decir, «posicionamientos». Es muy interesante ver sus conclusiones en función de qué tipo de institución/entidad lo publica. Un primer ejemplo es el informe del JISC/CETIS del Reino Unido titulado MOOCs and Open Education: Implications for Higher Education.A white paperfirmado por Li Yuan y Stephen Powell. En el apartado 7, Implicaciones para las instituciones de educación superior, leemos:

The emergence of new educational delivery models including the rapid development of MOOCs is another source pressure on conventional HE institutions, but also offers opportunities for those institutions able to change and develop new provision. Foremost this requires institutions to address strategic questions about online learning and where the different innovations such as MOOCs fit within their activities. It is a mistake to see MOOCs as an isolated issue on which policy and strategic decisions need to be taken, as they are part of a broader landscape of changes in HE that includes the development of open education. It can be argued that MOOCs have the potential to impact on higher education in two ways: improving teaching; and encouraging institutions to develop distinctive missions that will include considerations about openness and access for different groups of students. MOOCs also provide institutions with a vehicle to think creatively and innovatively and to explore new pedagogical practices, business models and flexible learning paths in their provision.

With the popularity of MOOCs, universities and colleges will need to rethink how to make their curriculum delivery models and courses truly flexible and accessible. Many HEI have sought to make learning more flexible with course modular design and bankable credits to encourage learners to study at a time and peace that suits their own needs. Open courses based on new structures, ways or working and use of technology can make higher education more cost effective and accessible and may also contribute to balancing work, family and social life. Learners have access to a variety of non-traditional learning models including access to courses and materials to self-direct their own learning beyond their classes and institutions.

Otro informe reciente del que se ha hablado en la red es el publicado por el IPPR, el Institute for Public Policy Research (que se define a sí mismo como the UK’s leading progressive thinktank. We produce rigorous research and innovative policy ideas for a fair, democratic and sustainable world) titulado An Avalanche is Comming y firmado por Michael Barber, Katelyn Donnelly y Saad Rizvi. En el resumen ejecutivo se afirma:

An «Avalanche is Coming» argues that the next 50 years could see a golden age for higher education, but only if all the players in the system, from students to governments, seize the initiative and act ambitiously. If not, an avalanche of change will sweep the system away.

Deep, radical and urgent transformation is required in higher education. The biggest risk is that as a result of complacency, caution or anxiety the pace of change is too slow and the nature of change is too incremental. The models of higher education that marched triumphantly across the globe in the second half of the 20th century are broken.

This report challenges every player in the system to act boldly.

Citizens need to seize the opportunity to learn and re-learn throughout their lives. They need to be ready to take personal responsibility both for themselves and the world around them. Every citizen is a potential student and a potential creator of employment.

University leaders need to take control of their own destiny and seize the opportunities open to them through technology – Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for example – to provide broader, deeper and more exciting education. Leaders will need to have a keen eye toward creating value for their students.

Each university needs to be clear which niches or market segments it wants to serve and how. The traditional multipurpose university with a combination of a range of degrees and a modestly effective research programme has had its day.

The traditional university is being unbundled.

Some will need to specialise in teaching alone – and move away from the traditional lecture to the multi-faced teaching possibilities now available:

  • the elite university
  • the mass university
  • the niche university
  • the local university
  • the lifelong learning mechanism.

The pressure of competition on universities is greater than ever, not just because of the global competition between them, but also because a range of new players like MOOCs provider Coursera, skill-educator General Assembly and consultancies that develop people and produce cutting edge research, are now stepping up to compete with various specific functions of a traditional university.

Governments will need to rethink their regulatory regimes which were designed for a new era when university systems were national rather than global. In the new era, governments need to face up to big questions – how can they fund and support part-time students? Should a student who takes courses from a range of providers, including MOOCs, receive funding on the same basis as any other student? How can government incentivise the connection between universities, cities and innovation? In an era of globalisation how do governments ensure that universities in their country continue to thrive? How can meritocracy be ensured?

Pero, ¿quién son los autores de este informe sobre el «tsunami xMOOC»? En la página 3 del informe se aclaran algunas cosas:

Sir Michael Barber is the chief education advisor at Pearson, leading Pearson’s worldwide programme of research into education policy and the impact of its products and services on learner outcomes…

Katelyn Donnelly is an executive director at Pearson where she leads the Affordable Learning Fund, a venture fund that invests in early-stage companies serving low-cost schools and services to schools and learners in the developing world. Katelyn is also an active advisor on Pearson’s global strategy, research and innovation agenda, as well as a consultant to governments on education system transformation and delivery.

Saad Rizvi is Pearson’s executive director of efficacy, leading a global team to ensure delivery of learning outcomes and performance across all the company’s products, services, investments and acquisitions. Previously he was at McKinsey and Company, where he led innovation and strategy work for several Fortune 100 companies.

¡Acabáramos! ¡Es la perspectiva de Pearson sobre los xMOOC! (véase en la Wikipedia: qué es Pearson PLC, uno de los mayores conglomerados empresariales del mundo en temas de edición, educación y tecnologías de la información). Pero, ¿qué intereses tiene Pearson en este tema? ¿Existe un lobbie de los xMOOC? ¿Qué instituciones y publicaciones difunden ideas (y en qué sentido) sobre los xMOOC? ¿Son los xMOOC el asalto definitivo del capital privado al «mercado de la educación superior»? ¿Contratará mi universidad la asignatura X (de primero y común a varias titulaciones) a Pearson y matriculará a 3.000 estudiantes?

Buenas preguntas. Antes de leer un informe sobre xMOOC, pídale que le enseñe la patita. Porque no todo el mundo cree que los xMOOC son la solución a todos los problemas de la educación superior. Como pedagogo no puedo estar más de acuerdo con la conclusión de un reciente post de Stefan Popenici (The End of History and The Last MOOCs):

MOOCs are one solution for an area of higher education. Online education opened decades ago new opportunities and possibilities for students and educators. Nevertheless, this is already part of learning in all modern universities. There is a time to take a look if we are not contaminated by groupthinking and shift to seriously explore wider implications of the future of higher education. We can start by seriously questioning the strident voice of those mimicking academic analysis for their vested interests. Adopting the long forgotten academic skepticism may prove once again the solution for our common progress.

If higher education reached the point of simple delivery of various reading lists, different resources, standardized tests and formal processes then it may be that the history of education really ended and we reached the days to accept it. If universities find the idea that they are responsible to their societies to provide alternative and courageous solutions, unaffected by corporate interests and short-term profit perspectives, to contribute to the world by making of higher civilization, then we have to admit that the entire discussion should be reduced to the packaging and technological solutions. We just have to provide pre-packaged education to all who can pay a small price. If it works for cheap hamburgers, it should work for junk education. Moreover, the idealistic perspective of alternative thinking as solution for flexibility, creative and new ideas for our crises may be just a futile and dangerous exercise for consumers and amenable employees.

Queda avisado.


Addenda de las 23:58 Un par de artículos interesantes sobre MOOC:

Shullenberger, G. (2013, 12 de febrero). The MOOC Revolution: A Sketchy Deal for Higher Education. Dissent, A Quaterly of Politics ans Culture.  [Blog post]. Disponible en

Sloep, P.* (2013, 3 de enero). MOOCs, what about them? Some moral considerations. Stories to TEL.  [Blog post]. Disponible en

*Peter Sloep es uno de mis «content curators» favoritos. Si está interesado en el tema de los MOOC, no deje de visitar frecuentemente (o suscribirse a) su página en titulada Networked Learning – MOOCs and more. También notable es la recopilación que hace en el mismo sitio ( mi colega y amigo Carlos Castaño: Enseñanza y Aprendizaje con MOOCs. Y si quiere saber lo más comentado en Twitter con el hashtag #MOOCs, puede ver esta recopilación automática «Todo sobre #moocs» en Tweeted Times«.




  1. El informe JISC-CETIS está plagado de palabras relacionadas con el «modelo de negocio». Incluso cuando hablan de innovación solo lo hacen dentro del marco económico.
    Desde el punto de vista que está escrito ese informe los son un forma de competir en el mercado de forma rentable. Esa rentabilidad se busca en tres líneas de desarrollo:
    1. La no certificación. En el momento actual es la única forma de eludir las barreras instittucionales de la certificación. Ahora solo pueden funcionar sin certificación para interesar a la gente. Toda la retórica de lo «open» va en ese sentido.
    2. Transformar la enseñanza en una mercancia barata de hacer y capaz de ser repetida el número suficiente de veces para hacerla rentable. Prescindir del trabajo de los profesores es fundamental. Se consigue así cursos sin horas de clase y de corrección que pagar. Los sistemas de evaluación entre pares y toda su retórica va en el sentido de hacer la figura del profesor prescindible. La figura del profesor entendida, claro está, como un trabajador al que hay que pagar.
    3. Acumular el suficiente capital simbólico (creación de marca, posicionamiento en el mercado, pruebas de software para plataformas, analíticas, evaluación automática…) en esta etapa inicial para después sacar beneficios económicos de él. Cuando las certificaciones estén «desreguladas» y separadas de las actuales instituciones locales. Entonces se empezará a pagar por los créditos y por la certificación.

    ¿Demasiado negativo y paranoico? ¿Estoy totalmente equivocado?

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