MOOCs and Potentials for Personalized Learning Paths [4/19/2017] by Dr. Kumiko Aoki (Regional Speaker)

Written by Youxin Zhang (TCC 2017 guest blogger, Instructional Designer for the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene at the University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Dr. Kumiko Aoki has a cross culture background in education. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in the USA with her master degree in Communication, and received her doctoral degree in Communication and Information Sciences from the University of Hawaii.

Dr. Aoki served at different higher education institutions in different countries. She previously taught at Rochester Institute of Technology and Boston University. After that, she returned to her home country, Japan, in 2004, for serving as a faculty member at the National Institute of Multimedia Education.

Currently, she is a professor of Informatics department at the Open University of Japan since 2010. Her research interests are revolving around distance education, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education, and sociocultural aspects of digital media. She greatly contributed to the development of online courses at the Open University of Japan with her expertise in instructional design.

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The title for Dr. Aoki’s presentation is “MOOCs and Potentials for Personalized Learning Paths.” MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) first appeared in 2008, and then developed rapidly in 2012. It became a worldwide phenomenon and was delivered in a variety of subjects in a number of different languages across the globe. MOOCs provide educational opportunities to the masses for free or at a low cost and possibilities of researching learning behaviors of individuals.

As a beginning, Dr. Aoki provided an overview of MOOCs’ history including the definition of MOOC, different MOOC types, MOOC providers, other MOOC initiatives in non-US areas. Then she shared the current situation of MOOCs in Japan, the business models of xMOOC in particular. Dr. Aoki also addressed the procedures of collecting learner’s personal information via MOOCs, and focused on learning analytics (e.g. MOOC analytical systems, framework). She talked about how these MOOCs can be tailored to the individual’s personalized learning. Lastly, she introduced the personalized learning paths and the integrative learning process.

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The most interesting part of the session that I enjoyed a lot was the discussion happened in the chat room while presenting. Participants of this session were super passionate about this topic and initiated a thoughtful discussion to look the MOOC hype into depth. The conversations were really impressive among those people who held different opinions from different perspectives, not just from learners and instructors, but also administrators, policymakers, instructional designers, institutions, MOOC providers. They were not only just identifying the problems that MOOCs may bring to education because critics described MOOCs as a disruptive innovation, but also delving into the possible solutions to make it better.

Another thing I like about this presentation was its layout. The first part of this presentation gave you a full introduction on MOOCs which had a clear and easy flow for those who were new to MOOCs to follow. The second part, Dr. Aoki narrowed down the topic to discuss how we can integrate MOOCs into our personalized learning to achieve our goals. This seemed like she leveled up this topic and make it more universal and practical to everybody, not quite far away from our lives. MOOCs were not just about receiving a certificate from any elite university or getting new skills for advancing your career. It’s more about to hone your higher order thinking skills and promote a life-long education regardless of who you are and where you are.

All in all, I was deeply impressed by the information covered in this lecture and the discussion part. Without any hesitation, I would definitely recommend you to check out this lecture by Dr. Aoki If you are interested in MOOCs or personalized learning.

You can reach Dr. Aoki via her email:

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