Senior lecturer, Jennifer Campbell from the Department of Computer Science at University of Toronto was recently interviewed by Phil Hill from Stanford University at the 2013 MOOC Research Initiative Conference back in December. Her research grant is innovative in that it is looking at students who are late to class when taking a MOOC. Does the not participating mean the student gets an F? Does the student who is late to a MOOC feel it is unfair?
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The video above discusses how she wants to look into how MOOCs are utilized when they are archived. As we know, a MOOC is generally has a specific start and stop date for the students to openly access the “abundance” of free resources and collaborations. I put abundance in quotes because I love how Dave Cormier describes what makes a MOOC a MOOC which I mentioned earlier in another post (see MOOCs should afford the use of abundance provided by The Internet! ).
But what happens after the MOOC ends? Why is it that people continue to sign up for a course that has already ended? Jennifer mentioned that in some cases a thousand people a week are continuing to sign up! So what she hopes to look into is the obvious… what are they doing? Do they progress through the course the same way students did when the course was live? If they are picking and choosing what they are learning, what are they choosing? Is this closed MOOC meeting the needs of students who were late to class?
Phil asks a great question, “By looking at this interesting population of students, what are you hoping to learn by looking at this data?” Jennifer’s research is hoping to learn different ways in which MOOCs can be used. Do they really need to be offered live? Does the live instructor support increase learning? Does the community cohort of students learning together actually help students—that did come to class—succeed? Is there more to attending class to the end in a live MOOC than a statement of accomplishment? The obvious answer from my perspective would be yes, but then why are thousands enrolling to learn after the class is over?
Speaking to this notion of “abundance provided by The Internet,” I read an article recently from Wired that discussed how “The Internet has muddled the line between past and present” (see Netflix and Google Books Are Blurring the Line Between Past and Present). Is anything is really in the past? With CBS News celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Assignation by airing four straight days of its news broadcasts? What about Internet Archive known for their WayBackMachine that currently have 391 billion archived webpages who is now involved with creating a public searchable archive of 140k VHS tapes from Marion Stokes (see The Incredible Story Of Marion Stokes, Who Single-Handedly Taped 35 Years Of TV News). Is anything is really in the past?
Just as this archived content can be accessed through this “abundance afforded by The Internet,” should we think of MOOCs in this way as well? Should we think of MOOCs in a different way similar to how we think of textbooks which can be referenced JIT for when learn is needed? Is there a benefit to accessing these resources after class of “off line” as Jennifer puts it? This is what her research hopes to uncover.
Just as The Internet Uses Nostalgia of long-lost memories for pop up adds, music recommendations, personality quizzes, etc. maybe the distant future of MOOCs will include that as well. What do you think?