Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Teach Online cMOOC

OK, so now I'm participating in my first MOOC, or to be more precise, cMOOC. Decided to create a separate blog to document the experience

Posted September 12, 2012
I cant remember how I learned about Stanford’s AI course last fall, but as I was interested in both the content and instructional design of Thrun’s course I signed up. I only got about 4 or 5 lessons into the course but the experience was fascinating. I found myself wanting to get my hands on the technology that so easily allowed one to create a quick end of unit quiz. But as a social phenomenon, what was more interesting was that some 100,000 people from around the world were interested in taking a course for no credit.

A year later, Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs, are the focus of a serious of articles in The Chronicle Review’s September 4th issue. The infection has continued to spread. Most of the big university elites are now on board, and the founding spirit of MOOCs based on the principle of Open Access – to empower and improve the lives of people and communities by providing access to world class education/materials – may well fade into the background as universities seek to partner with publishers and other interested parties to capitalize on what promises to be a potential cash cow. According to Carey’s article, entitled Into the Future with MOOCs higher education is about to face a significant shift in its monopoly and control of course credits as students opt to take high quality, branded courses with the experts at America’s top universities.

In Before you Jump on the Bandwagon, Byerly suggests that Colleges might want to ask themselves, “Why MOOCs?” Before succumbing to the pressure to jump into the MOOC game, it may be well worth noting that not all universities have the endowments and capacity to be able to follow MIT’s OCW and Stanford’s MOOC lead in exploring open access and curricular experimentation. O’Donnel [The Future is Now & Has been for Years] tells us that the instructional design and pedagogy are not new, it’s that the technology is now more advanced. He suggests that the magic of the MOOC is unlimited in its potential for supporting rich online discussion and engagement.

Duneier shares his experience teaching a MOOC in Sociology in partnership with Coursera and 16 other universities to 40,000 students across 113 countries [Teaching to the World from Central New Jersey]. For him, the challenge of trying to implement F2F practices – such as a close reading of a book chapter – in a virtual world devoid of visual and interpersonal cues, lead to the discovery of how online discussions can provide insights into students’ interests that can be used to inform and shape smaller chat based group seminar sessions. I was struck by Duneier’s closing comments about prepraring for his upcoming traditional F2F class at Princeton. In asking himself how to create the rich experience he had just witnessed in the MOOC course, he determined that the key would be to bring the outside world back into his classroom. It would appear the challenge for MOOCs is bringing personalization to large numbers of individuals distributed across a diverse global context. The challenge for the traditional F2F course, on the other hand, is bringing the richness of the outside world into the classroom.

Many educators may never experience teaching a MOOC. But for those of us who do teach online, there are strands that seem to persist across the continuum of distance education. Notably, people want to have access to the experts, and the more diverse the learning community the richer the learning experience. These ideas have roots in Technology & Learning research that has goes back many years, so O’Donnel has a point [though I wonder, did he really teach the first MOOC in 1994?]. What MOOCs do promise to contribute to the conversation – also highlighted in Daphne Koller’s Ted Talk – are substantial datasets which, in concert with current developments in analytical tools, can help provide some solid empirical evidence to address the question we’ve been asking for years, How effective is online education?

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