Until last year, the number of students in my classes at MIT numbered 50 or so. Less than twelve months later, I have just completed my first class with 50,000 registered participants. They came from 185 countries, and together they co-generated:
• >400 prototype (action learning) initiatives
• >560 self-organized hubs in a vibrant global eco-system
• >1,000 self-organized coaching circles.
What explains the growth in group size from 50 to 50,000? It’s moving my class at MIT Sloan to the edX platform, making it a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).
Designed to blend open access with deep learning, the u.lab was first launched in early 2015 with 26,000 registered participants. When we offered it for a second time, in September, we had 50,000 registered participants. According to the exit survey, 93% found their experience “inspiring” (60%) or “life changing” (33%); and 62% of those who came into the u.lab without any contemplative practice have one now.
Last month my colleagues and I completed a pilot of what well may be the most interesting project of my life. It was the pilot of a new type of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that pushes the MOOC design envelope by blending a globally transformative platform with an eco-system of deep personal, locally grounded learning communities. Below is the story and some key insights from this experiment that prototypes the 21st century university by putting the learner into the driver’s seat of profound social change.
The goal of the class, MITx U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self, is to empower change makers to co-sense and co-shape the future. This MOOC was offered through the edX platform. EdX was founded by MIT and Harvard and now includes 30-plus universities around the world. Our U.Lab MOOC included:
• >28,000 registered participants from 190 countries
• >300 prototype (action learning) initiatives
• >a vibrant eco-system of 350 self-organized hubs (pictures below)
• and 700-1000 self-organized coaching circles (of five persons each) plus
• four global live sessions with 10,000-15,000 participants/viewers each
The Evolution of MOOCs
Eighty-eight percent of the respondents said in an exit survey that the course was either “eye-opening” (52%) or “life-changing” (36%). So, how is it possible for an online course to be either eye opening or life-changing for almost everyone? We do not know for sure. But reading the feedback we now believe that we have stumbled into a new space for learning–one that we refer to as MOOC 4.0.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have evolved over the past three years. This is how we think about their evolution:
MOOC 1.0 – One-to-Many: Professor lecturing to a global audience
MOOC 2.0 – One-to-One: Lecture plus individual or small-group exercises
MOOC 3.0 – Many-to-Many: Massive decentralized peer-to-peer teaching.
MOOC 4.0 – Many-to-One: Deep listening among learners as a vehicle for sensing one’s highest future possibility through the eyes of others.
The current crisis in higher education has three characteristics: it’s overpriced, out of touch (with society’s real needs), and outdated (in its method and purpose). But the solution, a true 21st-century model of higher education, is already emerging: it’s free(or accessible to everyone), it’s empowering (putting the learner into the driver’s seat of profound personal, professional, and societal renewal), and it’s transformational(providing new learning environments that activate the deepest human capacities to create — both individually and collectively).
Today I would like to share some preliminary insights from our ongoing experiment, “U.Lab: Transforming Business, Society, and Self” (Watch a 7-minute video about it here), a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) developed with MITx and delivered through edX.org.
A frequent criticism directed at MOOCs is that the learning that happens in them is not as effective as the learning that happens in a classroom. That’s why, in the U.Lab, we didn’t try to replace the classroom. Instead, we decentralized it, then took the learning out of the classroom altogether.
We live on a razor’s edge. From one instant to another, any of us can regress to yesterday’s mindset or connect with an emerging future possibility. In all countries and civilizations around the globe, we face the same challenge: crossing the threshold to this other side, to the field of the future that is waiting to emerge. Rilke referred to crossing this threshold as a shift of perspective and consciousness:
… for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
(“Archaic Torso of Apollo,” Rainer Maria Rilke)
This shift might also be referred to as bridging the ecological, social, and spiritual divides that disconnect us — as individuals and societies — from the sources of our wellbeing. Do we see these divides in the same way that Rilke did? It depends. Doing so requires us to see in them the mirror image of our own behavior. What does that image tell us?
Looking into that mirror we see food systems that make us unhealthy, destroy the planet, and leave many farmers hungry. We see educational systems that kill real learning. We see health systems that make too many people sick. We see major governmental agencies turning against their citizens, as has happened one way in Syria and in other ways elsewhere, as the case of Edward Snowden and more recently Eric Garner (“I can’t breathe”) tragically demonstrated.
Compared to five years ago, the amount of data we now generate is huge. Some companies collect that data, but more often than not they don’t do anything with it. Business analytics is an important tool to help organizations harness the power of that data. By unlocking its value, you can do things like improve profits, predict consumer behavior, better understand markets, and make more informed decisions. Most importantly, it can give you a competitive edge.
For those of us in the field of operations research, data analytics is a huge and exciting area. It’s a critical tool for businesses moving forward. As a result, we’re offering MIT Sloan’s popular Analytics Edge course on the MITx online, interactive learning platform this spring. We want to share the cutting-edge knowledge generated at MIT on this important topic with people around the world. Read More »