MOOCs to the rescue? Emergent forms of connectivist teaching and the German use case (D, A, CH)

author: Felix C. Seyfarth, University of St. Gallen
published: Dec. 10, 2013,   recorded: November 2013,   views: 3558


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The interactive, connectivist educational technologies associated with the MooC format have mushroomed from a North American into a world-wide phenomenon, driven by revolutionary rhetoric on the one hand and the active endorsement by university partners with global name recognition. As a potential force of upheaval in terms of cost, access and scale for the institutional landscape of higher education creates popular expectations and political pressure for German universities to explain and position themselves: Does this trend primarily address problems in anglo-saxon system of higher education and is thus of little relevance to the education market of continental Europe? Will only early-adopters benefit from winner-take-all effects in what is soon to become a globally networked economy of academic online teaching? Starting from political-economic und regulatory specifics in the German-speaking sphere of higher education, most importantly the broad access to reputable higher education without appreciable tuition charges, this paper analyses opportunities and challenges in the use case of connectivist teaching formats online for small and medium-sized universities. I argue that focusing on MooCs' transformatory potential is not technological but rather pedagogic and organisational in nature. Their integration future strategies of undergraduate and post-graduate teaching/learning will contribute substantially to the reputation and global visibility of German universities. Viewed as "communities of practice" and sites for "legitimate peripheral participation", they contribute to the political goal of internationalisation for German universities as well as for student recruiting in general.

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