George Veletsianos resent published a blog post about the use of Twitter in MOOCs. The post was based on a republished article on that subject. The study employed data mining to aggregate data from 116 MOOS “with course-dedicated hashtag” on Twitter. His conclusion is thus:
This research used a large-scale data set to investigate participation on course-dedicated hashtags. It examined the participation patterns of hashtag participants, the types of users posting to those hashtags, the types of tweets that were posted, and the variation in types of posted tweets across users. While popular narratives suggest that social media provide a space for enhancing learner participation, this study provides
little evidence to support these claims in the context of Twitter as an adjunct to MOOCs, finding that an active minority of users contributed the preponderance of messages posted to Twitter hashtags and that learners make up only about 45% of users. Nor do these findings reveal substantive evidence of learners contributing to multiple hashtags, which may suggest that learners did not find Twitter to be a useful space that provided added value or responded to their needs. Ultimately, these results demonstrate the need for greater intentionality in integrating social media into MOOCs.
Starting August 29, MIT will be offering “Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness,” through its edX portal with a new twist. Students who pay $300 for the “verified certificate” program will have their work reviewed by “professional philosophers.” Without a “verified certificate,” the course is free.
“Listening to lectures and reading books is great, but philosophy is all about taking complex ideas and organizing them in a simple way. You learn by writing, specifically writing to someone,” said Caspar Hare, an MIT philosophy teacher who will lead the MOOC for its third iteration.
Straumsheim has an interesting piece over at Inside Higher Ed about what to call MOOCs. He quotes Harvard Faculty Director Robert A. Lue on the conversations they have had on campus about this change in online. He points out that the traditional 90-minute lecture has not translated well to the online environment. He says that faculty were encouraged to follow the Khan Academy model of breaking things up into modules that cover no more than one concept. He added, “When those modules are freed from the time constraints of a semester or quarter, the end result bears only some resemblance to a course.”
“It really does reflect in my view a real sea change in how we’re thinking about education,” Lue said. “The word [course] is still meaningful, but I feel strongly that as a defining term, it is increasingly less defining of all the different options that we want to have.”
Lue compared the breakdown of courses into modules to textbooks and chapters. “It’s very hard to use a course in another course, while once you modularize into these more discrete learning experiences, it’s so much easier to share,” he said.
The rest of the article contains some interesting in sights into the changes going on in technology, MOOC partnerships, and the rethinking of content and its delivery.
Some faculty wanted to expand Amherst’s repertoire and experiment online. Even professors who opposed a deal with edX say the college should look at doing more online. But the majority of faculty came to doubt edX on a number of fronts.
. . .
Some Amherst faculty concerns about edX were specific to Amherst. For instance, faculty asked, are MOOCs, which enroll tens of thousands of students, compatible with Amherst’s mission to provide education in a “purposefully small residential community” and “through close colloquy?”
They also expressed broader concerns about the direction in which edX and others like it are taking higher education.
The 2012 survey of online learning by the Babson Survey Group has recently been released. The survey was conducted with the support of Sloan-C and Pearson. The survey found that the number of students taking at least one online class has surpassed 6.7 million. It also found that the adoption of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is low with most institutions sitting on the sidelines.
According to the report online growth “remains extremely robust,” even in a time declining enrollments in higher education overall. With regards to MOOCs, they found, “Institutional opinions on MOOCs are mixed, with positive views of their ability to learn about online pedagogy and to attract new students, but concerns about whether they represent a sustainable method for offering courses.”
The key findings in the report are:
Over 6.7 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2011 term, an increase of 570,000 students over the previous year.
Thirty-two percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.
Only 2.6 percent of higher education institutions currently have a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), another 9.4 percent report MOOCs are in the planning stages.
Academic leaders remain unconvinced that MOOCs represent a sustainable method for offering online courses, but do believe that they provide an important means for institutions to learn about online pedagogy.
Seventy-seven percent of academic leaders rate the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face.
Only 30.2 percent of chief academic officers believe that their faculty accept the value and legitimacy of online education – a rate is lower than recorded in 2004.
The proportion of chief academic leaders that say that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy is at a new high of 69.1 percent.
A majority of chief academic officers at all types of institutions continue to believe that lower retention rates for online courses are a barrier to the wide-spread adoption of online education.
Inside Higher ED has a post by Steve Kolwich about the opening keynote at Educause. In his keynote, New York University’s Clay Shirky addressed the openness (or lack thereof) of MOOCs, which he considers the more provocative aspect of MOOCs than their size. The whole piece is focuses on the relationship between MOOCs, Open Educational Resources (OER), and the terms of service of some of the new commercial providers of MOOCs ( e.g., Udacity, edX, Coursera). The full article provides an interesting look at the whole issue.