Unknown path ahead

The learning journey appears to disappear the closer you get to the edge. There is always the promise of the next best thing on the horizon while you are still struggling to get a grip ins the shifting sands below. Blue sky dreaming takes over before you have had  chance to catch your breath and look back and see any achievements behind you… and being led by Stephen Downes into new territory.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Stephen Downes

Daphne Koller: What we’re learning from online education

Daphne looks at real course experience and massive data – move away from the 1 hour lecture and chunk content down to concepts. Break away from one size fits all – active learning and students have to  engage with the material. Feedback is essential – use peers to grade to earn from each other.

This made me reflect on the first MOOC that II enrolled in as a networked learning opportunity in 2009 with 2,300 others. At that stage it seemed massive, and people were creating off shoots in other languages. That seems nothing compared to current offerings with 40,000 students referred to by Daphne Koller.

Since then, the term MOOC has taken off and even Google ran courses and now has released a developer app for their MOOCs and a test site http://cbmultidemo.appspot.com/

There has been so much inconsistent air space about MOOCs, and Lisa broke them down into 3 useful categories with a different focus. HTTP://LISAHISTORY.NET/WORDPRESS/2012/08/THREE-KINDS-OF-MOOCS/

Each type of MOOC has all three elements (networks, tasks and content), but each has a goal that is dominant.

Network-based MOOCs are the original MOOCs, taught by Alec Couros, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier. The goal is not so much content and skills acquisition, but conversation, socially constructed knowledge, and exposure to the milieu of learning on the open web using distributed means. The pedagogy of network-based MOOCs is based in connectivist or connectivist-style methods. Resources are provided, but exploration is more important than any particular content. Traditional assessment is difficult.

Task-based MOOCs emphasize skills in the sense that they ask the learner to complete certain types of work. In Jim Groom’s ds106 at UMW, the learning is distributed and the formats variable. There are many options for completing each assignment, but a certain number and variety of assignments need to be done to perform the skills. Similarly, our POT Certificate Class focuses on different topics for each week, and skills are demonstrated through sections on design, audio, video etc. in an effort to expose learners to many different formats and styles in online teaching. Community is crucial, particularly for examples and assistance, but it is a secondary goal. Pedagogy of task-based MOOCs tend to be a mix of instructivism and constructivism. Traditional assessment is difficult here too.

Content-based MOOCs are the ones with huge enrollments, commercial prospects, big university professors, automated testing, and exposure in the popular press. Community is difficult but may be highly significant to the participants, or one can go it alone. Content acquisition is more important in these classes than either networking or task completion, and they tend to use instructivist pedagogy. Traditional assessment, both formative and summative, may be emphasized. Mass participation seems to imply mass processing.

eg Coursera and Udacity

Google ran Google Research used to host a MOOC to 155K students (I was one of the many thousands) After the course, they released  the Google App Engine so that the concept can be replicated.




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