I participate frequently in open and online courses, both xMOOCs such as those offered through platforms, edX and Coursera, and cMOOCs. The cMOOCs are not structured, but are fluid, usually founded by a group of individuals interested in a specific topic. Learning relies upon networked and connected interactions using social media platforms. These contrast with xMOOCs which are offered by colleges or universities and are grounded in traditional learning theories with predetermined learning objectives and static content. Click here to read a post by Stephen Downes (co-founder of the original MOOC concept) describing the difference between xMOOCs and cMOOCs.
List of xMOOC courses below, and cMOOCs details on sub-page within My Open Learning.
1) Human-Computer Interaction, Coursera
Start date: March 31 to May, 2013
This course appears to be about designing user-friendly interfaces accessed on any screen, i.e. website, blogs etc. The course is summarized this way, “In this course, you will learn how to design technologies that bring people joy, rather than frustration”.
xMOOCs I am Surveying: In these courses I am not engaging in all course activities and assessments, but am consuming some course content, completing few or no assessments and engaging in discussion minimally.
1) MITx 7.00x Introduction to Biology: The Secret of Life, edX
Start Date: March 6, 2013. Course ends on May 28, 2013.
Overview: The course will help students uncover the mysteries of Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Recombinant DNA technology Genomics, and Rational Medicine.
Each week of the course features a series of lecture sequences that are supported by interactive video tutorials and interspersed exercises or problems. Additionally, students will work on a homework assignment or exam each week. The course will conclude with a comprehensive final exam.
1) Introduction to Communication Science, University of Amsterdam
Start Date: February 20, 2013. Course ends April 17, 2013
From the Course Website: Upon completion of this course, students should:
• have a knowledge of the history and development of communication science;
• have a knowledge of the dominant theoretical approaches within communication science;
• have a knowledge and understanding of the most important models and concepts in this field.
Overview: This course provided a solid foundation in the theory behind the discipline of communication science. Consisting of six key topics, the course content was delivered primarily through very short lectures ranging between 3 to 5 minutes. I liked the lectures; they were interesting, with a good balance between graphics and instructor lecturing. Each module consisted of eight videos, with a 3 question quiz for each video [each week consisted 8 quizzes]. I found the course platform a bit clunky, but fairly easy to navigate.
Participation: There were discussion boards each week that correlated to each video, though usually no more than a handful of students participated within each. This was a positive, as those that did participate could engage in meaningful discussion, and often the course lecturer would also engage in conversation as well. On the other hand, there was none, or little collaboration or sharing of content or resources with classmates outside of the course discussion boards, i.e. Facebook or Twitter, as is typical of other MOOCs.
Assessment: Students that completed all weekly quizzes and the final exam, received a certificate of completion. The final exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The certificate does not contain a score or grade, but indicates course completion only.
Overall Rating: A very well-organized, course for those looking for a theory based course on communication, both the history of, and the theory and models of communication science. The course videos are engaging, concise, and can be viewed either on the course platform or You Tube–which I preferred. The instructor is warm and appears dedicated to making the learning experience meaningful for students. It is not an interactive course however, but more of a self-study theory based course, but a good one. Click here for further details on the dates of the next course offering.
2) e-Learning and Digital Cultures, Coursera
Start Date: January 28, 2013, Duration: Five Weeks
My Goals for this course:
-Produce a digital artifact that describes my learning within the course using tools that I am not familiar with
-Identify and describe the connections between learning and digital cultures
This was an excellent course. Truly a course designed for developing an online learning community and exposing participants to different applications and tools for creating connections in a digital world.
Block One [week one and two]: Utopian versus Dystopia. Blog post, Can We Transform Education with Sal Khan’s One World Schoolhouse?
Block Two [week three and four]: Being Human
The questions under exploration in these two weeks included, who or what will define what it means to be human in the future? Who or what defines it now? These are crucial questions for educators as our means of communicating and learning are being transformed by technological tools and platforms. Defining our humanness, and relationship with technology will help us to identify the of purpose education and value of education in our digital cultures.
I found the topic of block two, Being Human to be challenging, thought-provoking; I was challenged to examine technological advancements from a different perspective given the content and discussion provided by the course in these two weeks. Technology has a dark side, a dimension that challenges our ‘humanness’. George Orwell’s 1984, and Huxley’s book, A Brave New World, have an eeriness about them when examining the plot lines in context of today. After reading the review of Francis Fukuyamafrom’s book on Post-humanism from The Guardian (2002) [assigned reading], I was disturbed. The predictions, or story lines are close to reality in 2013, too close for comfort—privacy boundaries are disappearing, synthetic [human] organs are on the horizon, computers soon to be smarter than humans.
Final Project, My Digital Artifact: What Does Being Human Mean in a Digital World?
Blog Post: A Tale of Two MOOCs @ Coursera: Divided by Pedagogy
Google Doc a selection of student final projects, #edcmooc Project Types
3) Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application, Coursera
Start Date: January 28, 2013, Duration: Six weeks
This course is currently ‘suspended’ until further notice. There has been excellent discussion and dialogue as a result of the significant technical ‘glitch’ which derailed this course, which is unfortunate. The instructor has invested considerable time and energy in this course, and I commend her for taking on a class of 41,000 participants.
Thanks to all the readers who participated avidly in the discussion from my first blog post, How NOT to Design a MOOC: The Disaster at Coursera and How to Fix It. My second post includes three takeaways from the challenges experienced, The MOOC Honeymoon is Over: Three Takeaways from the Coursera Calamity.
Articles which quoted Online Learning Insights discussion and observations:
- MOOC Mess, Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
- Oh, the irony: Coursera suspends online course about how to run an online course, Ki Mae Heussner, GigaOm
- Crash Sinks Course on Online Teaching, Douglas Belkin, Wall Street Journal
- Online Class on How to Teach Online Goes Laughably Awry, Will Oremus, Slate
4) Introduction to Sociology, June to July, 2012
xMOOC, offered through Coursera with Professor Duneier from Princeton University
This course, an xMOOC [as it was within a contained virtual space, essentially a classroom experience that is fit into a massive and online course] was a unique experience, given there were over 20,000 students representing over 100 countries. There were weekly seminars recorded through Google Hangouts with the Professor Duneier and eight students, I liked this aspect, as students represented various countries and each provided their perspective on the readings which dealt with cultural issues. However, this is an example of where this format breaks down, not everyone participated in an interactive seminar, though there were self-forming study groups.
The grading of exams was conducted via peer grading (very controversial, though I thought it had merits), where each student graded three other students anonymously. I wrote a post on the experience, Peer Grading in Online Classes: Does it Work?
Sports and Society, Coursera
Begins: April 30, 2013, Duration: Eight Weeks
1) History 210: Early Middle Ages, iTunes University
Professor Paul Freeman, Yale University
Great course! This course is in the updated format for iTunes U, similar to a notebook with tabs for ‘materials’, ‘notes’, ‘syllabus’ etc.