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Thursday, May 30. 2013
A discussion developed late in my "Academia and the MOOC" course about completion rates and "lurkers." The term lurker has been used for quite awhile online. At first, they were people who went into discussions and chat rooms and just read/watched without participating. The term had a negative connotation.
The term carried over to online courses. Of course, in a class online with 25 students, anyone who does not participate is readily apparent. All the major LMS allow you to track student usage. In fact, it's easier to monitor student participation online via the software than it is to monitor in a large face to face classroom.
In my own online courses, I will nudge lurkers. But in a MOOC with thousands of students, that may not be possible. I commented in my MOOC that at least 20% of registrants did not view any content. The LMS didn't allow for me to get percentages for discussion participation for the class as a whole (only for individuals) but I could see that at least half of the other participants only participated in one of the four modules.
Where would we place the course auditor/lurker in his "architecture of participation?"
One of the participants in my course, Ann Priestly, has posted some thoughts on this topic on her own blog. She takes issue with my comment that “being engaged in any online course of any size means being involved in the discussions. It’s like web 1.0 and web 2.0 – read only and read/write.”
She is of the belief that there are many types of engagement including reading, reflecting and creating one’s own knowledge. She may be right. I am certainly coming from having taught for decades face to face and for more than ten years online in traditional credit bearing courses with always less than 25 students - and that just may not apply in the MOOC world. I certainly have become "engaged" with books I am reading where there is no interaction between the content and myself or with other readers or the author. Was I lurking?
Ann included a link to another post on this issue of lurking that suggest these people might be called "listeners." Still, as MOOCs become more accepted as legitimate courses for credit or advancement, the issue of what level of engagement will be required to complete a course successfully will become more important.
For now, my conclusion is that we need to rethink the reasons that people enroll in MOOCs and consider that lurkers have a legitimate reason for being there, and we might want to take that person into consideration in the course design.
I wish now that I had a required survey for students to register that included more information about what they wanted from the course and what their intention was in registering. (Typically, I see the question of how many hours do you plan to give to the course, which isn't really a helpful number to me.) If 30% of registrants were there because of a particular content area or just to "experience a MOOC," that would change your completion numbers from the start.
Tuesday, May 28. 2013
Patrick McAndrew, Professor of Open Education at The Open University, has a guest post on the Next Generation Learning Challenges blog about the "Bridge to Success" program - one of the “Building Blocks for College Completion” from NGLC’s first wave of funding.
The grant portion of the project has wrapped up, but they are still finding new people adopting the content, watching access to the site continue to rise. They have launched revised versions and hope to continue without additional funding.
The program was a collaboration of The Open University, the University of Maryland University College, Anne Arundel Community College (MD), and the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their challenge was to to help people who, for whatever reason, find it hard to cope in the early stages of college study.
It is interesting that McAndrew says that "The MOOC phenomenon shows signs of missing such people as it offers engaging learning experiences for the committed rather than nurturing the skills of learning itself." He notes that even with the large number of learners that have engaged with MOOCs so far, "the majority of those, by their own analysis, have existing qualifications or are eager to advance to further study."
MOOCs attract self-directed, motivated individuals, many of whom are learning for the sake of learning. In their challenge grant, they were working with students who are struggling and often not motivated.
They found that usage of these open courses went beyond their college population. For example, "charities used the materials to enable some of the most disadvantaged in society to return to an education or workforce path."
New versions of the courses are now available with badges added and a structure to encourage self-study and to celebrate success. The new version takes some lessons from MOOCs to organize around a start date and to offer some extra support for a limited period. Timed to coincide with Adult Learning week in the United Kingdom, the supported period will run for a week, after which point the materials will continue to be available as open resources.
The new versions: Learning to Learn (L2L) is a course for anyone who needs help to get started in college-level study, and Succeed With Math (SWIM) is a confidence-building mathematics course. Both are designed for when learners are failing in trying to take college courses. These versions build on the versions piloted in Bridge to Success, with the intention of making the material easier to study independently by adding challenges that bring out the achievements for learners as they proceed. (The original versions are also available.)
For more about the project, including introductory videos, webinars, and guides for educators and learners on how to make use of the courses, go to http://bridge2success.aacc.edu/
Friday, May 24. 2013
During the final week of the "Academia and the MOOC" course that I facilitated, I offered a wiki page for participanys to post a "MOOC aphorism." An aphorism is defined as a short observation that contains a general truth - a one-liner not meant to be funny. These "MOOC aphorisms" were short observations based on the case studies and student experiences about Massive Open Online Courses that people felt contained a general truth.
I can't say that I agree 100% with all these aphorisms, but I would say that any single post had more than one person's support.
We even had one image comment that addresses an entire discussion in the course - defining and redefining a MOOC.
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