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MOOCs: The Future of Education?

An overview of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) created for academic librarians.
by

Jackie Werner

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of MOOCs: The Future of Education?

MOOCs:
The Future of Education? Massive Open
Online Course MOOC Timeline Lecture videos
with quizzes How Do They Work? Price Advantages Issues 1 million students (as of August 2012) 33 university partners founded fall 2011 founded winter 2012 14 asynchronous courses partners with individual instructors founded spring 2012 founded by MIT and Harvard, with selected additions focus on education research & improving classroom teaching fall 2011 winter 2012 spring 2012 Precursors to MOOCs founded 2002
course materials from existing MIT courses
most include lecture notes & homework problems
some videotaped lectures and even free textbooks Multiple-choice
exams Written
assignments Discussion
forums On-campus integration Certification Ease of use Sustainability Discussion Feedback Cheating Labs Why Should We Care? 2002 - present Jackie Werner
jwerner3@gsu.edu
Georgia State University What Is a MOOC? Courses are separated into Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced 200,000 students enrolled in CS101 as of September 2012 Focus is on the professor, not on university branding Courses divided into 18 categories Not only science/quantitative subjects-- includes humanities courses, unlike udacity or edX High-profile university partners, prominently displayed founded 2006
short, low-tech video lectures
originally math, then sciences and other subjects added
adaptive problem sets & stats on what you've watched
tools for teachers to use with in-person classes founded 2007
video or audiotaped lectures from on-campus courses
many university & other partners (MOMA, NYPL)
now integrated with iPad, allowing professors to create and share complete courses Currently 7 courses, mostly computer science Very strong emphasis on university partners A MOOC is a free online course, typically offered by a university professor, that can support large groups of students and usually includes video lectures and graded homework/exams. But there's no official definition--this will probably change! many short videos making up larger units quizzes included in videos Example: CS101 on Udacity (for synchronous courses, usually 1-2 units per week) CS101 lectures show "whiteboard" with professor voiceover Example: CS101 on Udacity Gamification on Coursera includes video of professor, interviews, whiteboard, etc. ungraded multiple-choice quizzes--function like clicker quizzes CS101 includes programming quizzes; Gamification includes short discussion prompts answer discussed in next video Example: Gamification on Coursera graded multiple-choice tests open-book multiple attempts allowed Udacity offers proctored final exams (for a fee) Example: CS101 on Udacity Example: Gamification on Coursera peer grading part of the assignment--incomplete without grading five peers rubric provided for grading, along with space for (ungraded) comments grade calculated from peer grades and self grade computer-graded programming quizzes both non-graded quizzes and graded homework CS101 includes optional, more difficult homework exercises Example: Gamification on Coursera Example: CS101 on Udacity forums organized by tags, especially problem sets karma system and badges encourage helpful participation in CS101, focus on troubleshooting programming homework and devising more elegant solutions--many who finished course participate suggested discussion topics in the lecture--lots of participation in the forums forums organized by lecture & more general topics most courses give free certificates upon passing
Udacity offers proctored exams for a small fee
Colorado State University accepts Udacity courses as credit (after passing proctored exam) edX specifically founded to research education for MIT and Harvard on-campus courses
works well with flipping the classroom (see K-12 classrooms using Khan Academy)
university students can take specialized courses not offered at their schools
be careful: Minnesota had law that prevented residents from taking online courses without authorization from state
possible avenue for monetization in the future online format makes easy for non-traditional students, especially those working or going to school
asynchronous Udacity courses have no time restraints
no penalty for dropping out almost all courses use freely-available resources: lectures, Internet articles, open-access textbooks, etc.
easier for some courses (programming) than others (literature)
no barriers to entry besides Internet access easy to cheat on graded work
closed-book exams impossible to enforce
plagiarism easy--written assignments are peer-graded by different students each time
Coursera added a honor code after issues with plagiarism discussion can be difficult, depending on boards
very hard to hold a conversation in Coursera
same problem with non-massive online courses
no way to enforce participation in discussions
no moderating presence
depends on course--some professors/TAs participate can MOOCs survive without charging?
Coursera's monetization possibilities:
certification
proctored exams
companies--employee recruitment
employers--applicant screening
human tutoring/grading
tuition
what does a university partner get out of a MOOC?
brand recognition quantitative science courses easier to grade by computer--but no hands-on labs
MIT working on virtual circuitry lab
good deal of computer savvy needed to take this route massive enrollment makes it impossible to get professor feedback
some courses use TAs and alumni volunteers to lead discussion
some professors involved in some discussions
Udacity karma system makes peer assistance on forums gratifying
easier for quantitative courses
peer grading very uneven
averaging peer grades helps, but no way to dispute incorrect assumptions
As Producers As Consumers Whether or not MOOCs are a fad, online education is only becoming more important. MOOCs can teach us what works and what doesn't on a large scale--and academic librarians can market what we have to offer besides paid resources. We have an unprecedented opportunity to learn. With low-obligation courses offered on an increasing variety of subjects, academic librarians can use MOOCs for professional development, subject specialties, or just for learning things we always wanted to know. Give one a try!
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