Michael Feldstein just posted a few thoughts on what is missing from xMOOCs and from publisher material on eLiterate, http://mfeldstein.com/ . I am curious how many students had a college experience that included long thoughtful discussions with either faculty or peers about the content? And then of course I am curious where you went to school.
I am back thinking about my economics courses again. I do try to spend time in the discussion area, but I have my questions there focused on application, not on theory. Perhaps this semester I will move them to theory. Maybe that will help me spot not only the that a student has a problem with indifference curves, but exactly where the problem is and how to solve it. This is the sort of thing that is easier to build into an online course than it is to build it into a F2F course - for more students, not just for those who sit in the front of the classroom.
I am also wondering about the intersection of xMOOCs and providers like StraighterLine. Do we get to take over the lower level courses, those where at most universities the discussion taking place is between peers, not between students and faculty? The PSY 101's that are taught in giant lecture halls anyway? Clearly there is plenty of room for improvement there, particularly in STEM fields where that course is taught as a weeder course (think General Biology I, or Chemistry I). If someone other than traditional F2F educators do take those over, then there needs to be an improvement in pedagogy, not just in cost. Is the community college model of small classes the best model? Is it the only model? Or are we working our way towards a new model that does scale?
StraighterLine has added new ways to include the professor with Professor Direct. More importantly, SL is looking at new ideas and new ways to add the Viola back in -- via the new models grouped under Professor Direct or via organized student study groups or simply thinking carefully about other possible changes in pedagogy. We need to fit analytics into this discussion though as well as instructional design theories, role of the faculty, etc.