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Running head: A LOOK AT SELF-DIRECTED ONLINE LEARNING 1 A Mixed Methods Look at Self-Directed Online Learning: MOOCs, Open Education, and Beyond Feng-Ru Sheu, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, Mimi Miyoung Lee, University of Houston Curtis J. Bonk, Indiana University Xiaojing Kou, Indiana University Abstract There are an endless array of open educational resources (OER), open courseware (OCW), and massive open online courses (MOOCs) available for self-directed learning pursuits. This study explores the learning experiences, including the barriers, obstacles, motivations, and successes of directed online learners. Data collection included a 43-item survey of 2 large online learning communities: (1) 1,429 newsletter subscribers of the MIT OCW initiative, and (2) 159 participants enrolled in a MOOC hosted by Blackboard using CourseSites. This is a mixed methods design. The researchers qualitatively analyzed emerging themes from open-ended survey items as well as the descriptive statistics from the closed-ended items. The findings help capture informal and self-directed learning experiences through informal education channels, including OCW, OER, and MOOCs.
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A QUALITATIVE LOOK AT SELF-DIRECTED 2 A Qualitative Look at Self-Directed Online Learning: MOOCs, Open Education, and Beyond We are in the midst of an incredible array of changes in both K-12 and higher education today that would have been unthinkable just a decade or two ago. People in remote parts of the world are learning from well-known professors at Princeton, Rice, Harvard, and MIT; typically, without a fee. Countless millions of individuals are engaged in self-directed, informal, and solitary learning experiences, while myriad others are highly engaging collaboratively learning with global peers who have signed up for the same course or experience. As these learning experiments unfold, many aspects of the college experience are being called into question. There is debate about the value or even the need for a degree. According to Luke (2013), some corporate settings are bypassing traditional degrees as the sole determiner of ability and are beginning to find people who are self-determined to learn the corporate culture and work through nontraditional or informal learning on their own. Creativity and initiative are emphasized over following rules. Luke suggests that human resource departments seek job candidates who have a dual approach to development, combing degrees programs with self- education. Self-education may result in certificates, badges, or other credentials that are reflected on one’s resume, but does not have to. Hence, HR departments need to find new ways to ascertain the skills learned from informal learning pursuits. In the midst of these changes, Friedman (2013) suggests that the revolution that he announced for the business world with his infamous book, “ The World is Flat ” (Friedman, 2005), has now migrated to higher education. In his upcoming book, Education 2.0: The Learningweb Revolution and the Transformation of the School
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