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"Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? " icon

Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? 

As the narratives that guide higher education fracture and realign, the topic of massive open online courses (MOOCs) makes visible the fault lines emerging in the field of contemporary academia. MOOCs challenge universities' conventional societal role as purveyors of knowledge and credentials: they are heralded by some as revolution, and derided by others as mere privatization. This position paper skirts that binary debate, with the author instead arguing that MOOCs may in the end be something else entirely: a Trojan horse for an ethos of participation and distributed expertise. While recognizing that most MOOCs at this juncture do not share those alignments, the author explores the possibility that digital, participatory literacies could be an unintended consequence of the combination of massiveness and openness. She draws on 2010 research into the early connectivist MOOC model as a means of teaching digital literacies. Focusing on MOOCs from a social communications and learning-focused perspective rather than an instrumental or technologically centered approach, the author suggests that it is the ways in which MOOCs open up questions of goal, purpose, and teacher/student roles that make their massive scale so powerful, and proposes that MOOCs can help acculturate learners to a form of new literacy development for the digital age.


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