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MOOCs, online education and the rights of learners.

I’m currently in Los Angeles for three days of Open Badges-related workshops and meetings. Yesterday’s meeting was a conversation about ‘the future of badges’ with such luminaries as John Seely Brown, Cathy Davidson, Connie Yowell, and David Theo Goldberg in attendance. Also there was a representative from Udacity, a provider of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) as well as a good number of my colleagues at Mozilla. The meta level of the conversation was almost too much for my jetlagged-addled brain to cope with at times!

One of the things that Cathy Davidson mentioned during the meeting was a Learner Bill of Rights that is currently available in draft form. The introduction states:

We believe that online learning represents a powerful and potentially awe-inspiring opportunity to make new forms of learning available to all students worldwide, whether young or old, learning for credit, self-improvement, employment, or just pleasure.

[…]

And we worry that this moment is fragile, that history frequently and painfully repeats itself. Think of television in the 1950s or even correspondence courses in the 1920s. As we begin to experiment with how novel technologies might change learning and teaching, powerful forces threaten to neuter or constrain technology, propping up outdated educational practices rather than unfolding transformative ones.

All too often, during such wrenching transitions, the voice of the learner gets muffled. For that reason, we feel compelled to articulate the opportunities for students in this brave electronic world, to assert their needs and–we dare say–rights.

If you click through to the Google Doc (it’s also on Github) you’ll see that I’ve made a few comments. If you care about online education – cMOOCs, xMOOCs or otherwise – then you should add your voice.


Related things to which you may want to pay attention:

Image CC BY VinothChandar

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  1. Thanks so much for getting such an energetic conversation going. Last time I looked, 42 people were on line and the issues we went back and forth on over and over (inc title–maybe that was toughest, in fact!) are being rehearsed again. That is because these are intrinsically difficult, important issues. Thanks so much for this.