My Open Learning: xMOOCs

Open Learning with xMOOCs

I participate frequently in MOOCs, both xMOOCs such as those offered through platforms edX and Coursera, and cMOOCs. cMOOCs offer a different learning experience; usually less structured where learning relies upon networked interactions using social media platforms. Click here for reviews on my completed cMOOCs. To read an in-depth article describing differences between the two types of MOOCs click here.

I categorize my participation as follows:
1) Auditor: Participate in select course activities, discussions or assessments. Read and review select course materials and discussion forums.
2) Active Learner:  Engage in the majority of activities, assignments and some discussions. Complete more than 75% of course assignments and activities.
3) Completer:  Engage actively in course activities, complete 90% or more of course assignments and assessments, that includes the final course assessment.


 HarvardX:  Saving Schools: History, Politics, and Policy in U.S. Education
Course dates: September 8, 2014 – October 20, 2014
Participation level: Completer

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 5.50.35 PMCourse Description: “This is the first mini-course in a sequence of four mini-courses offer by Harvard University. This initial mini-course seeks to answer the following question: How did a school system, once the envy of the world, stumble so that the performance in math, science, and reading of U.S. students at age 15 fell below that of students in a majority of the world’s industrialized nations?  Exploring that question, we identify the personalities and historical forces—the progressives, racial desegregation, legalization and collective bargaining—that shaped and re-shaped U.S. school politics and policy. We visit the places where new ideas and practices were spawned, and we look at some of their unanticipated consequences”.

Review coming soon.

♦ Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4° C World Must Be Avoided, Coursera
Course duration: January 27, 2014 – February 23, 20144Degrees-webimage
Participation level: Course Auditor

Course Overview: This course is World Bank’s first ever MOOC course. Though the WBI has a strong presence in online education with its e-Institute platform, interested learners must apply—classes are not open.  Each class is limited in the number of students its accepts, and the participants typically selected have a background in the subject area of the course, and/or work in the subject area.

Description. The course was polished and professional and featured many experts in the lecture videos within each week’s topic. Overall it was very well done.  The lecture videos,  because they featured a variety of experts in the field and were no longer than 15 minutes, were interesting and engaging. The layout of the course however was somewhat confusing, a considerable amount of content presented that would have been more effective with a cleaner and simpler layout. Several participants of the course expressed similar sentiments. Also, I gathered from forum comments that certificate-seeking students found the hours of study invested each week surpassed the advertised ‘estimate’ of hours per week, which was three to five.

Final Assignment—Digital Artifact: Another challenge was the final project, a digital artifact which created much confusion apparent by numerous student questions throughout the course, and technical problems associated with the peer review process, which was the assessment mechanism for the final assignment. Below is the description of the assignment:

During Weeks 3 and 4, you will create a digital artifact (resource), conveying, in an engaging and accessible manner, something important that you have discovered during this course.

This artifact (resource) should be published on the web in a publicly available way. You should plan for it to remain online for at least two weeks so that it can be assessed.

For your assignment, you will submit a link to your artifact (resource), and be marked by and receive feedback from your peers in the course.

Despite the challenges, there is no doubt many students learned a great deal in the process of researching and creating their resource. The concept of creating an artifact is an effective method to apply course learning, and demonstrate knowledge. I would recommend WBI might consider an alternative method to the peer review format for the final project given the inherent challenges with the technology. Granted, this would provide a void for the final assessment piece, a necessity for the certificate seeking students.  I viewed a couple of very good digital artifacts from the course shared by students in the discussion forums. See below:

♦ Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals, Canvas Network
Course duration: August 4 to September 6, 2013
Participation Level: Completed Course obtainig Certificate of Completion

Course Overview. Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals is a good refresher course anyone that has completed an undergraduate level statistics course, and/or for educators wanting to refresh their knowledge of the fundamentals educational testing, including Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r), correlated-samples t test, independent-samples t test, and a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).

The instructor, Lloyd Reiber, Ph.D., was excellent, and he is likely one of the factor that contributed to the high level of course completions, which ranked at 12%, where 7% is the average for similar MOOCs. Professor Reiber is clear, concise in his lectures, the course materials are well planned and easy to follow, and he appears genuinely interested in the students success, given he responded to virtually all student emails. Upon completion of the course, students that obtain a score of 90% on the final exam received a certificate of completion.

globe_mouse♦ Online Pedagogy, Canvas Network
Course duration: June 17 – July, 2013
Participation Level: Course Auditor

Course Description: Participants will explore online teaching in the very environment that their future students will be experiencing. Participants will understand online learning processes, how to promote interactive work and critical thinking, re-design learning activities, effectively manage the online classroom, and assess the online student’s work.

♦ Sports and Society, Coursera
Course duration: April 30 to June 18, 2013
Participation Level: Active Learner

Course Description: “This course draws on the tools of anthropology, sociology, history, and other disciplines to give you new perspectives on the games we watch and play.  We will focus on both popular sports like soccer (or “football,” as anyone outside America calls it), basketball, and baseball, and lesser-known ones like mountain-climbing and fishing.”

Course Review: I was disappointed with this course, though informative and organized, it lacked depth and rigor. My review of the course—MOOC Quality Scorecard Applied to Coursera Course.

Introduction to Communication Science, University of Amsterdam
Course Duration: February 20 to April 17, 2013
Participation Level: Active Learner


Communication (Photo credit: krossbow)

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 [there were  eight quizzes each week]. 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.

 e-Learning and Digital Cultures, Coursera
Course duration: January 28, 2013 to March 5, 2013
Participation Level: Completed Course, Certificate of Completion

Digital_Culture_logoMy 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.

Course Summary
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

 Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application, Coursera
Course Duration: 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:

♥  Introduction to Sociology, Coursera
Course duration: June to July, 2012
Participation Level: Completed Course

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?

Click here for cMOOC courses, and my other courses I’ve studied.

6 thoughts on “My Open Learning: xMOOCs

  1. Pingback: How (Not) to Design a MOOC: Course Design Scenarios From Four xMOOCs | online learning insights

  2. Pingback: My Open Learning: xMOOCs « Educadormagno's Blog

  3. Pingback: OER(Online Educational Resources) and MOOC (Massive open online course) | Manus Levante`s blog

  4. “My Open Learning: xMOOCs | online learning insights” was indeed
    a remarkable posting, can not help but wait to browse far
    more of your postings. Time to squander a lot of
    time on the net lolz. Thanks a lot -Chauncey

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