Inside Higher Ed: Try, Try Again

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Cal Straumsheim has an interesting article over at Inside higher Ed about Keith Devlin and his Introduction to Mathematical Thinking MOOC (offered through Coursera).  The MOOC is entering its 4th offering and Devlin talks about tweaks that have been made to boost student engagement.  These changes have increased student persistence through the first couple of weeks.

This is interesting in that it shows–as with all educational endeavors–that course offerings need to be reflected back on and adjustments made.  It does not require watering down the content to make a course more successful.  Critics also have to realize the completion rates for courses that are open for all to try are going to be lower that restricted access courses.  People are interested in trying things out.  But life does happen and some find that what they thought was interesting is not that engaging beyond a certain point.  We do not all need to be experts in all fields.  What is wrong with someone enrolling and taking away what they want to take away, even if it is short of completing the course.  Worry about complete of those who are taking it for credit and have to complete to finish a program.

The full post is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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MOOCs: Too Much Hype, or Not Enough?

Dr. Jeff Borden, Pearson for Wired.com

Earlier this month, I went to an eLearning conference in Saudi Arabia and again, the topic of Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, came up. But, they were discussed very differently at this conference than I have described in past posts. For the past few years, I have noted that MOOCs are the easiest way to get attendance at eLearning conference presentations. About 25-35% of conference sessions talked about the  – mostly from a, “How You Can Do It” perspective although there were always a few asking if we should, “Believe The Hype?”

But at this conference, it was stated as official — “The Hype Is Over.” This was stated emphatically by both an American keynote presenter and by the Director of eLearning for the main University in the Kingdom. They both noted that MOOCs were just simply given too much credit out of the gate and that they often took away from the real conversation of eLearning.

Obviously, the folks at Coursera or Udacity would likely disagree with this position, but what about those without a stake in the race? Are MOOCs dying or are they here to stay?

I’ve blogged a lot about MOOCs in the past. It’s been hard not to if you’re an education blogger. But I’ve noted the problems with first generation MOOCs. Not to belabor the point, but we now know that most xMOOCs (meaning those with a broadcast, top-down model vs a “cMOOC” — the ‘c’ stands for constructivistic), are taken by people outside of the U.S. They are not generally taken for the credit but for an individual “module” of content, hence the seriously low completion numbers. More often than not, they are taken by people who already hold degrees. They utilize a peer to peer evaluation methodology that has proven quite challenging (after all, how often do you find 10,000 people who can really help guide the other 90,000 on a difficult or complex topic?). And on and on.

Full article here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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MOOCs and Their Discontents

from Aljazerra.com

To say that MOOCs propagate inequality is to deny their fundamental mission and the thinking that conceived them.


Coded into the DNA of MOOCs (the unwieldy acronym for Massive Open Online Courses) is a profound sense of social, educational, and economic justice. MOOCs are courses from the world’s premier institutions of higher learning offered on a variety of platforms, the most notable of which are CourseraedX, and Udacity. They aim to bring the knowledge and expertise housed in the most selective public and private universities and deliver them to anybody around the world who has little more than a computer or tablet and a working internet connection.

They are inherently egalitarian; the fundamental principle that guides them is to universalise the availability of knowledge and human understanding from the widest possible variety of academic fields. Anant Agarwal, the president of edX,said in a recent interview, “Education is our cause. It’s really important that people around the world have access to a great education, much like the air we breathe.”

All of these points ignore the most glaring error of [Kendzior’s] article, which is to have neglected the question, what is a MOOC, and what isn’t it?

Full post here. 

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Coursera Turns Two (Infographic)

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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AS MOOCs Move Mainstream Universities Must Pay to Play

Buck Goldstein, University Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of North Carolina, writes about his experience teaching a MOOC.  He is right that the bar for high quality, flashy courses through one of the big commercial platforms is going to cost both time and money.He estimates that the cost to produce his MOOC was $150,000.

His story is interesting, though I think his use if the word naive is apropos.  Entering an arena so highly hyped as MOOCs and having to have a flashy video production, is going to cost money.  I was recently in the first Moodle MOOC and they did a fine job with the course on a shoestring.  It even had live interactive sessions.

Full post is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Introducing Coursera Learning Hubs: Global Participation, Local Access and Support!

The Coursera Blog has an interesting post about its new experiment in MOOCs–Learning Hubs.

At Coursera, we envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We strive to create and deliver experiences that break down daily barriers that stand in the way of successful learning. Today, in support of our goals, we’re delighted to announce a new initiative- Coursera Learning Hubs – that will offer people around the world physical spaces where they can access the Internet to take a Coursera course, while learning alongside peers in an interactive, facilitated setting. All for free.

Essential to this initiative are our new and future partners, international and local organizations who share our vision and can provide on-the-ground support by offering a physical space for learning, reliable Internet access, and local course facilitators. We welcome the U.S. Department of State as a major Learning Hubs partner, as well as Bluebells School International and Lady Sriram College for Women,Digital OctoberOvercoming Faith Academy Kenya (in collaboration with PiCreate and Tucklets.org),Learning Links FoundationTAPtheTECH, and LEARN. TT and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). Together, these partners will bring Learning Hubs to initially more than 30 Embassies, American Spaces, campuses, and other physical locations worldwide:

Full post is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Coursera Learning Hubs

by DegreeofFreedom

As they describe in this press release, these new Learning Hubs “will offer people around the world physical spaces where they can access the Internet to take a Coursera course, while learning alongside peers in an interactive, facilitated setting.”  Initial partners for the program include the US Department of State, and a variety of international universities and private learning organizations.

Apparently, the program grew out of discussions with State Department personnel interested in finding an inexpensive and effective way to deliver educational programs via US embassies.  And recognizing that anywhere/anywhen online learning doesn’t have to contradict the notion of people working together in a shared space, Coursera decided to programitize the idea around three delivery models for blended learning.

These include:

  • Discussion based – Where a facilitator would manage conversation around a week’s course lectures and encourage students to continue the conversation on the Coursera discussion boards
  • Tutoring based – Where the facilitator would both lead discussion and support students on their weekly assignments
  • Project based – Where the facilitator would work with the class to come up with a set of projects students can work on independently or together to supplement regular course work

Full post here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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“Course Versus “Learning Experience”

Link

Virtual Chalkdust post about an Inside Higher Ed http://virtualchalkdust.com/2013/10/29/course-versus-learning-experience/

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Fortune: Why Online Education Won’t Kill Your Campus

Fortune has an article about disruption, online education, and brick-and-mortar institutions.  Anne VanderMey, argues that MOOCs have not exhibited a disruptive force in the market yet, despite Coursera scoring $43 million in funding and having over 80 institutions using its platform.  Although, they could be disruptive in the future.  Her assessment of MOOCs thus far is that they augment tradition online courses rather that replacing them.

Source.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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Harvard and MIT’s Online Education Startup Has a New Way to Make Money

Robinson Meyer @ TheAtlantic.com

t’s been about a year and a half since massive open online courses (MOOCs) achieved notoriety, and the industry now has three giants: Coursera, Udacity, and EdX. Coursera and Udacity are West Coast-run, Stanford-spawned, for-profit standard-style startups.

EdX is different: It launched as an East Coast, non-profit collaboration between Harvard and MIT.

EdX, then, is more of a mystery. As a non-profit, it’s not concerned with, well, profit. But it is concerned with its own survival, so, this month, it debuted a new way of making money.

Until this fall, EdX had mimicked a tack Udacity and Coursera have taken: A “business-to-consumer” approach, in which students pay the course provider to verify their identity before they take a class on EdX.org, a kind of certification of achievement. To help get these verified learners, EdX has begun to link courses together into curriculum. (I wrote about these “XSeries” course sequences last month.)

The second push has come much more into view in October. It’s a “business-to-business” pitch—although, so far, we’ve seen it take effect in a business-to-nation way.

It has a different product for this pitch, too: “Open EdX.” Announced in September, Open EdX is the code that makes EdX.org work; it’s a platform for MOOCs.

Full article is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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