Jars, Jelly Beans and MOOC’s

It could well be that the Achilles Heel of Massive Open On-line Courses is that the combination of “Machine Learning”, “Big Data”, and the size and diversity of those attending are problems akin to a treatable cancer. Right now they are canaries in the mine shaft, too often drowned out by the flood generated by all of these factors.

There is wide agreement by those who have followed on-line learning for as long as I have (20 years) that most MOOC’s need more warmth, smoother pathways,  more hand-holding, and improved responses to ALL those involved in the course. It’s complicated; and easier said than done!

But if they don’t do all of this, they endanger the whole grand experiment, particularly those in partnership with elite universities.

Those universities protect their brand image like a grizzly does her young cubs! Even a hint of such danger and the curtain could drop down on all of them. (And that would be an awful shame!)

In subsequent posts, I will address various “Treatment Plans” well underway. These solutions are robust, varied, simple and complex, with integration problems the size of an elephant. More later. Now, the point of this post.


Class passageways – smooth as glass.
Inside: Friendly, Chewy, Delicious, Addictive

I don’t know about you, but my mind works best when I can form a mental picture of both problem and solution. Which brings me to the subject of jars, jelly beans, labels and warnings.

Yesterday I “packed” some jars (with JellyBelly beans) and sent them off to Coursera with a card that reads:



The selection of jar, beans and label

was seriously deliberative!

THE JAR: What’s smoother, more transparent, than glass? The passageways to and inside all Coursera classes should be just as smooth, clean and clear-cut.

SYMBOLISM: As Ronald Reagan made deliciously clear, what’s more friendly than a jar of jelly beans? Offered to both friend and foe. With positive results.

DIVERSITY/MOTIVATION: Their diversity, flavor and chewiness makes you want more. A near-perfect goal for every classroom on the planet.

CONTENT: In this case the best beans you can buy, from JellyBelly, the Rolls Royce of gourmet jelly beans. Designed for those of the most discerning taste. Another exquisite goal for ‘Classes by Coursera’. Even if “free”, the best money can buy!

LID LABEL READSSmooth + Friendly Diverse +  Intellectually Delicious

Jelly Bean Jar Label Art, PDF format


THE 1997 Keynote from a Mohawk Indian who acquired her Doctorate over the Net – for the purpose of bringing education to her outback Tribes.

Thank you for reading. All thoughts most welcome!

About oregonhibbs

I'm passionate about improving access to education, worldwide, sailing, Duck football (I live in the shadow of the University of Oregon in Eugene) and connecting with people with ideas and work that "can change the world". With this in mind, I am the "Skipper" for Global Learn Day, which you can find out more about at OREGONHIBBS.COM ; Write to skipper@bfranklin.edu

Posted on August 23, 2012, in Khan,Coursera,Etc. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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