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Educause 2012 Report

This is entirely from the prospective of an EduPunx…so a bootstrapper looking at conference with people who have budgets.

The New York Times has dubbed this the “Year of the MOOC” and that was readily apparent at the Educause. MOOCs were continually discussed.

Massively Online Open Courses are currently divided into two categories which an emerging third and are described at The Many Manifestations of the MOOC

xMOOC is the term being used for the MOOCs that are coming out of the Ivy Leagues, Udacity (Stanford professor who has raised $21 million in venture capital), edX (MIT and Harvard $60 million non-profit), and Coursera, which recently raised $16 million in venture capital.

cMOOC is a MOOC that uses connectivism as its pedagogy. These MOOC started in the Canadian universities and have traditionally received little funding and instructors have normally taught these because they wanted to experiment with this new pedagogy that at its core is about how to learn in the digital age. Participants normally range from a few hundred to a few thousand.

There is a discussion of a possible third type that is “special interest” or a community rather than a course. Clay Shirky said the interesting thing about a MOOC is O for open. Shirky books on “Cognitve Surplus” and “Here Comes Everybody” really tie well into this theme. People are trading in their TV time and Internet surfing time to learn as entertainment and as recreation.

What MOOCs may mean for Online Learning
Coursera, Udacity and edX have public examples of their online courses. They may not be exemplary or constructivist courses, but they have established a public standard.
Coursera uses 10 minute videos of instructor lecture for each week. Each video has two screens. One screen is the slide with pictures and text. The other screen is the instructor giving the lecture. This alternates depending on the lecture and it looks like they are using Adobe Presenter or similar software to produce the final videos.

Takeway: It is the instructor’s content and not publisher video or publisher PowerPoint. Students in MOOCs identify with the instructor even though this is the only interaction they have with them.Coursera uses AI graded multiple choice quizzes. The instructor creates the test as an original. Currently all subjects offered within the three institutions are topics where there is a definite right and wrong answer to the question asked to allow for the AI grading.

Takeaway: Students cannot Google the answers nor can they look up keywords in the index to find the correct answer. The assessments are based on materials provided in the weekly lectures and assigned academic articles for reading.

Coursera does assignments that are peer graded. Students are assigned a fellow student’s written assignment to grade. Mixed results as there have been reports of plagiarism. Coursera is following up on peer grading and believes that students can be trained to grade similarly to instructors.
Takeaway: This should be watched to see what develops.

Overall Takeways from MOOCs:
• MOOCs had everyone talking about online learning and its future.
• Ivy Leagues schools are doing xMOOCs as marketing tool and prestige
• xMOOCs use an easy to replicate online instructional design model

What MOOCs haven’t figured out about Online Learning?
• MOOCs can garner massive participation but completion is usually 10% or less
• While they may have shown the online courses can be designed and delivered massively they do not retain students.

MOOC misconceptions of the closing keynote and others
Edward L. Ayers made the statement that “MOOCs aren’t collaborative.” He went then on to suggest that MOOCs don’t have interaction among students. So when talking to people about MOOCs, they may only know of the extremely large and AI graded MOOCs from Stanford, edX( MIT and Harvard) and Coursera. An example of a MOOC that is considered a cMOOC or a connectivist MOOC is Digital Storytelling – DS 106. This MOOC has been running iterations over the past two years. It is extremely collaborative and each semester has been used by 2 – 8 university courses.

MOOCs actually have huge potential for collaboration. However it is the one part that xMOOCs have not utilized; instead xMOOCS have focused on more of a sage on the stage model of delivery.

Mobile and BYOD
BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is a movement away from computer commons, iPad initiatives and other programs that has the institution providing computing devices for students. The overall consensus at the mobile sessions and the BYOD unconference was skip user device management and just move forward to BYOD.

The suggestion for institutions was to invest in infrastructure such as standalone USB and normal plug recharge stations and teaching correct IT hygiene for students. From the teaching and learning sessions, there was a tendency to encourage mobile devices rather than laptops. It was discussed that students hide behind laptops and often students behind them pay more attention to their neighbor’s screen then the material being presented.

Badges as demonstration of mastery rather than gamification were brought up in many sessions. The three programs referred to were:
Mozilla Foundation Open Badge Project
The Open Badge project is a system that allows the learner to signup and receive a badge earner account. Organizations that issue and display badges then put their information into the Open Badge project.
Mac Arthur Foundation Badges for Life Long Learning
Series of badge initiatives and research on the use of badges being developed by MacArthur Foundation.
Purdue Passport
This is a Badge system that Purdue University just adopted this semester. It is still a work in progress but faculty can issue badge that show in the student’s ePortfolio known as Passport.

Takeway: This discussion came up in several sessions. A combination of MOOCs and credentialing through badges may change how students approach higher education. This was also food for thought when it came to considering a move to competency based assessment.

The Games and Learning constituency group was well attended for an 8 am session. The constituency group leaders are Chris Stubbs, Director of the Educational Gaming Commons at Penn State and A.J. Shelton, Director of Emerging Technology at Monclair State University. Discussion surrounded three topics using games in the classroom, gamifying the course for motivation and behavior modification and the development of ARGs (Alternate Reality Games).
Takeaway: Interest in games.

“Just Hire a Coder.”
This expression was repeatedly and nonchalantly said in sessions. Anytime integration into the LMS gradebook was mentioned, someone said “just hire a coder.” This was seen at Educause as standard operating procedure to hire an independent contractor for a specific need and that initiatives no longer see this as a constraint.

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