Saturday, August 25, 2012

(10) Week 3 Friday flick: MOOCs

Week 3 review:
Hopefully in week 3 you enhanced your use of your mobile device and have found and shared some tips and new apps that make life a little easier. Thanks to all for suggesting more apps. I am collating these resources and will share them in a SENS Dropbox resource that we can add to as we go along. 

Thanks also to those requesting more Android information - we will harvest the knowledge that exists in the SENS Android users and provide that as well.

Project blog 
You will notice a few changes to our Project blog:
1) Comments
People are starting to comment at the bottom of the blog. #Brilliant!
From a personal point of view, your comments give me feedback on the impact of what I have written, whether it resonates with your, and your alternative or additional perspectives. Blog comments also build a connection between the author and readers, and between readers. This reader contribution and interaction is a feature of Web 2.0, and it allows more democratic participation in the construction of knowledge, and the exchange and enhancement of ideas.

2) Blog roll
I have added a blog roll on the right called Blogs of interest
A blog roll is a list of links to other people's blogs. This is a very common widget you can add to your blog that links your readers to other blogs of interest. You will see some of the blogs I have linked to are by members of our own community, which is fantastic. As we progress along the 12 weeks and move into the final Digital Literacy skill where you will be earning your Creator badge in a range of ways, some of you may wish to set up a blog. Blogging is a terrific way for staff (and students?) to crystallise our ideas, show our early work in an area, and ask for input from others. Many academics find blogging a useful way of sharing ideas a little more regularly than journal publishing process allows!

Friday Flick

This week we will explore the rapidly growing phenomenon of MOOCs - Massive Online Open Courses. MOOCs are online courses that are usually free, unaccredited and have no prerequisites. Consequently, these courses are often undertaken by huge numbers of students.

While many institutions have offered free online learning for some time (iTunesU, MIT OpenCourseWare) MOOCs have been the focus of much attention during 2012. 

There are two models of MOOCs (outlined in this paper in the Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning):
(1) Connectivist MOOCs: these were originally developed by Canadians including George Siemens who has curated a collection of articles on MOOCs using Diigo here.

(2) Contemporary MOOCs: In 2012 there has been an explosion of MOOCs provided by elite universities in the United States including
Coursera: courses designed and taught by award winning teachers at Stanford University, and now in collaboration with 37 other universities. For example, this course on Health Policy and the Affordable Health Care Act
- Edx: a collaboration between Harvard, MIT and now also the University of Berkeley, California.

The huge enrolments in MOOCs leads to some interesting effects such as students translating the courses into many different languages, developing learning communities and providing resources to support each other's learning. MOOCs advocates cite their potential to democratise learning at a global level, and provide more rich, connected and personalised learning experiences (see video below in Task 1).

While these courses are not currently accredited, institutions are exploring means of providing some verification of students' completion - Udacity has just added the ability to print off a Certificate of Completion. In addition, while the main service that institutions are providing - education - is free, there are business models developing. Udacity sold their database listing the names of the 1000 highest performing students of 160 000 enrolled in a course on Artificial Intelligence to recruitment agencies.

Task 1: Watch this 2 minute video about Edx.

What are the challenges and issues with MOOCs?
There are significant questions being posed about MOOCs. These include:
- the quality of the learning experience (sometimes just videos and Multiple Choice Questions)
- the lack of interaction between instructor and students
- the validity of any certificate of achievement, and
- the significance of MOOCs for universities such as Deakin.
This article explores some of these issues.

What are the opportunities afforded by MOOCs? 
Deakin and SENS in particular are already providing rich online learning experiences that complement students' classroom, lab and placement experiences.  Our programs generally rely on face to face learning experiences. So, what do MOOCs mean for us, or our potential students?

(Read this article first in The Conversation about the opportunities MOOCs may have for Universities.)

Community engagement: Could MOOCs provide a way to engage our communities around key issues?

Bridging program: Could MOOCs provide a useful way to prepare and select passionate and capable students who are not otherwise eligible for entry to Deakin via traditional pathways?

Course Content: With the dramatic increase in high quality information available on the internet and particularly the Open Educational Resources movement, the role of the university is changing from one of providing content to designing and facilitating learning. Will course content or learning experiences from MOOCs be included in our programs?

Learning analytics: MOOCs (and in fact any learning experience with online tasks and a dashboard) allow the systemic collection of data to support the personalisation of learning, monitor students' learning progress and address their difficulties in real time. This is very different to traditional university teaching and assessment practices that generally identify students' lack of engagement, learning, progress or mastery when it is too late to address. See ECAR report on Learning Analytics in Higher Education.

Task 2: Watch the video below of the TED talk by Daphne Koller about Coursera and make a comment about your thoughts under this blog post. You will need to register with blogger or OpenID to obtain an identity to comment (this prevents spam).

Open Educational Resources links:


  1. Thanks Susie, very interesting talk by Daphne. Coursera certainly does have much to offer but from my overview of what is offered, the concept of eduction is an interesting one. The courses (or units in our language) are entry level, which is fine, but no following units are provided. From my searching of the sites - it looks to me like these are tasters - come and learn about this, you like it, want to learn more, come and do our degree now - here are the fees! Is this because it is only just beginning and other units will add in or is this the model? So education in this style is incomplete - no coherence of learning, no structure to development across units. The need to reach many is acknowledged, but this needs to be in a meaningful way. I think the issue of students asking for RPL for coursera study is huge and we need to get on top of it now. Tim has already been asked to comment on Physi from coursera and at the moment we really can't as insufficient information is provided. This is really very interesting - at the moment I see this as an inflated 'open day' for these unis, a great way to seed new students to their unis, great way to spread the brand. We should be doing the same - feeder Ex and Health, Food, Nutrition and Health courses.
    Enough from me, now to try and post - turns out my eyesight is more closely aligned to that of a computer - so far I have not be able to post with less than 3 attempts, record is five!

    1. Yes great point Lynn and Jacquie that the value we provide over MOOCs is an integrated educational journey. I wonder too if people will use MOOCs to add to their base qualifications and expand their interest. In fact I am doing exactly that this week - Kris Paterson and Sharee Crocker (Librarians on this project) and I have enrolled in a MOOC on gamification.

      (By the way Lynn, not sure what the issue is, but try writing your comment in Word or Notes then copying and pasting it in so you don't lose it.)

  2. Another great post Susie. Thanks for the shout out in the blog roll too!

    As a demonstrator, one of the key messages I try to impart to my students is to keep in mind that learning happens everywhere, but that the power is in pulling together what you've learned from a broad range of experiences, disciplines, and perspectives. So it's little wonder that the MOOCs concept holds a lot of appeal for me as a perpetual student! :P I love that I can "add another string to my bow", with low investment required (e.g., low/non-existent entry costs).

    On the other hand, the very things that I see as strengths of MOOCs can also be viewed as weaknesses. For example, with such easy entry into these courses, I know I've definitely signed up for many more courses than those I've actually completed. As for Lynn's excellent observations (re: coherence and incremental progression of learning), some of my own experiences as a student of online courses only reinforces these comments. In a standalone online course, the brain moves very quickly from "Isn't this fun?" to "Where is this going?"

    I feel like I've benefitted most from OpenCourseWare that has been developed from existing programs offered by established universities (e.g., MIT, Tufts). These courses have already undergone substantial development and revision over time, so structure is already embedded in these programs before they go online.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective Jacquie, very useful. And yes I think the rise of informal and anytime learning will be interesting to observe.

      By the way - I have updated the blog post to reference Open Educational Resources as you suggested :-)

  3. An interesting video, thank you Susie.
    Has anyone here tried embedding questions into their recorded lectures (as per the example at 8:30 of the video)? I wonder what software and skills that would require, and whether/how I could go about it?

    1. I agree Ali - Looks like a great idea to get students to actively learn during lectures...just requires the technology!