Can we determining best practices for learning in different types of MOOCs, e.g., xMOOCs and cMOOCs?

decisionI came across an interview today between eLeanring evangelist, Michael Feldstein from Stanford University and Martin Weller from Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology. The interview took place at the 2013 MOOC Research Initiative Conference back in December. If you are interested in the issues related to the use of technology in support of education, e.g., MOOCs, online learning, etc. be sure you check out this out and join the conversation.

The video below discusses the grant he received from the MOOC Research Initiative. He is first interested in looking deeper into MOOC completion data. He and his team currently has data from 220 MOOCs. Why is it that some students complete a MOOC and some don’t? What “influences” them to complete? Can we find a trend that MOOCs that are shorter will have a higher completion rate?  Are their certain providers that have stronger completion rates? What about the type of MOOC?

He is also interested in looking into the “learning design” of MOOCs as well, i.e., how students are using resources and what they actually do with them. Are their patterns that can emerge when a MOOC is more content driven, e.g., an xMOOC? These are MOOCs where the focus is “scalability” of teaching content to 300k students. Check out last week’s blog Can we use machines to analyze students 21st Century Learning skills in a MOOC? where I mentioned that Udacity’s holds the Guinness Book of World Records for largest MOOC (see Massive Open Online Course > North America). Their CS101 has had enrollments of over 300,000 students!

What about patterns in MOOCs where the focus is more on experiential learning, community, and connections? These are often called an cMOOC. These are the ones that I am personally most interested in for my desire to network and develop my PLN. None of these have been for any sort of credit or certification. Just some fun informal learning (perhaps the best kind 🙂 ).

As with all research, we hope that it will influence best practices for the future. For Martin’s research, he is hoping that we will all learn that there are certain MOOC designs that are good for certain types of outcomes. For example, if you want a MOOC to train and deliver a certain type of content, then we should set it up with a specific type of learning design.

What I found interesting that Martin mentioned was his interest in making sure that learner’s know these different types so that they can make better decisions on which MOOC is right for them. What about someone who wants to get their BA in a year for free? Wouldn’t we all but wouldn’t it be a little easier for them if they knew exactly what they were getting into when trying to decide between all of the courses referenced on MOOC List?

I have been a lazy follower of Jonathan Haber’s Degree of Freedom blog over the last year or so. Here he blogs his attempt at getting a liberal arts Bachelors Degree entirely through free MOOCs (see My Big Free One-Year MOOC BA which discusses how he got started). But what if a student like Jonathan could make a more educated decision on which MOOC to take? Similarly, for those students whom Tawanna Dillahunt mentioned as not being able to afford a formal education (see Looking beyond the basic demographics of MOOC learners is key…). Imagine how much faster and better those students could increase their economic mobility if they were able to choose the best MOOC for their needs?

What a wonderful area of research Martin. I look forward to hearing more about it.

About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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