This topic is to reflect on the suitable and relevant pedagogies for learning.

Topic 1: Development of MOOCS by Downs & Siemens


Topic 2:

Use of HapTel in dentistry to reduce costs in the face of increased difficulty in getting real teeth to practice on.


Ok… two very different approaches to the use of TEL to support and innovate learning.

MOOCs  – Reaching many students worldwide, engaging learning across the globe

HepTEL – Giving a very niche group of learners (Dentistry Undergrads) the opportunity to develop mastery in their field in one institution.


I’ll start the discussion with the HapTEL project. Initially this is dealing with a particular group of learners at a particular institution, so quite small scale compared to the industry, however, this project is certainly a game changer… for dentistry….

I have several questions on this that are informing my choice.

Do the students care if they are working on a real tooth or a simulated tooth if the ultimate outcome is that they learn the skills needed to work on a real live patient with confidence and skill at the end of their course? I think not. If the motivation for their engagement is the acquisition of the skill, does the journey matter to them as to how they developed that skill? On the surface, it probably doesn’t, but reading between the lines, this technology could be a game changer as it would allow the students more opportunity to practice.

Without the need for a (diminishing) supply of natural teeth or the inflated costs of using non-reusable plastic teeth (expensive), the Virtual teeth give more opportunity for learning for an initial outlay of costs. The students can practice more and therefore get more value from their learning opportunity. This is something that would certainly be of benefit to learners and would have big impact.

This is similar to investments in other technology like iPads in educational situations whereby the initial outlay is offset by the additional opportunities that the technology affords.

However this technology is impacting (excuse the tooth pun) on one small sector.

Does that make it less relevant compared to MOOCs that have the potential to reach millions of people and change lives in all aspects of teaching and learning?

The HepTEL is certainly less relevant to my own personal practice as I deliver teacher training in learning technologies, however I do also have issues with MOOCs.

MOOC’s  Topic 1

In this YouTube video, there is an implication that MOOCs can be created with minimal effort by simply upscaling existing outputs from teaching such as slides, lecture capture and whiteboard captures. However the commitment required by the practitioner to create these resources, gather them in a meaningful way and then deliver them on a new platform is huge. Add to that the expectation of the learner that you are online to answer posts and that large numbers of students on MOOC platforms (1,000’s rather than hundreds) can generate HUGE amounts of traffic in the forums and the chat rooms.

MOOCs can work effectively, but there are two caveats:

  1. Don’t expect them to be easier to manage, set up or be less time consuming than a traditional course. They aren’t. They require huge amounts of investment in terms of time and activity from the teacher.
  2. You don’t simply set them up and walk away. (See number 1.)
  3. Don’t expect a return on your investment in terms of cash. Your ROI comes from engagement, profile raising, marketing. Time and again MOOCs fail to convert enrolments into payment.

As far as having a discussion about my preferred pedagogy and then trying to convert someone to my viewpoint. It isn’t going to happen. I have no problem with people commenting on my blog post and arguing against my points, but I am not going to try to convert anyone to my way of thinking about this topic. I respect others opinions and will allow them to find their own paths on their journey.

Share →

Leave a Reply