MOOCs – SJSU and others

To add another perspective to the discussion…

I participated in the first MOOC Connectivism and Connective Knowledge – CCK08 – wiki, groups, blog, moodle Stephen Downes, George Siemens

This was an interesting learning experience. Lots going on in a subject that was of interest to me, with some world-class thought leaders and researchers, theoreticians and practitioners. During the course, the organizers worked to put collection and distribution tools in place with daily email summaries of blog posts, moodle discussions, tweets, … Many people complained that this wasn’t the right way to do an online course – which was the whole point. The facilitators were deliberately trying something completely different. They wanted learners to direct their own learning, and to connect with others. There was a wide range of levels of participation, but most of the 2000+ registered participants “lurked,” posted or commented a few times and were happy with that. We knew we were a part of educational history in the making.

I have also participated in several other MOOCs including a couple from Stanford. Having a schedule with assignments, submission deadlines and rudimentary text exchanges with other participants provided some structure, but there was no real sense of “class” – more like facilitated independent study. The distance learning courses that we have been offering for 10 years are more engaging. DeAnza courses are “almost free” when compared with a regular Stanford tuition, but the students are much better served with more personal attention and interactivity with classmates. Other than “rock star” faculty giving the 6 minute lectures, these MOOCs were below average as online courses go.

The SJSU choice of courses – Remedial/Developmental Math course and College Algebra course, are part of the problem. These are not students or topics that are going to benefit from the open connections, sharing of ideas, collaboration and self-directed investigation of a topic of personal interest. These are required courses. Remedial says the students have been down this path before without sufficient skill or adequate motivation or both.

Offering free open courses is a great idea – serving the global good,… but the course objectives and delivery have to be better aligned with the content, assessments, student prior knowledge, interests, motivation and credit requirements.

My $0.02 worth


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