Pick one or two issues from the readings this week particularly interest you and discuss these issues. Please be sure to respond to at least two of your peers.
After reading the articles and reviewing rubrics on evaluating online courses the immediate concern that popped into my head was to find a meaningful way to a do a course evaluation within a limited time frame. The evaluation done by Margaryan, Bianco, and Littlejohn caught my attention because it focused on how well a course utilized the learning principles to determine its effectiveness (in addition to the course intro information, objectives, organization, assessments, etc.). Their findings showed that overall most MOOCs were not very effective due to poor application of the learning principles leading low learning opportunities. My goal is to take a closer look at this part of the evaluation to understand it better and to see if I come to the same conclusion. There are two things that would be interesting to clarify. Is the low score simply due to a lack of teacher presence typically found in MOOCs? Or are there other problems such as the instructional design?
Susan: I think the role of teacher/instructor must vary greatly among MOOCs. Some probably have a very heavy teacher presence. The one I reviewed had an engaging professor, and was organized to maximize the “togetherness” of the course. His face is very close to the camera, and this increased the sense of intimacy in the course for me. I’ve seen others (and been part of them) where the instructor is a disembodied voice or non-existent. Not always is the teacher/instructor the developer of the course, so responsibility for the quality of the course does not lie only in one place.
Me: Interesting what you mentioned about professors using camera because I too had been thinking about this while watching the video lectures. I felt that the videos provided a more personal connection to professors, but I was debating if the benefits justify the added costs. The videos looked professionally made which means increased production costs for the course. But do they increase learning? A comparison was in reference to e-textbooks with voiceovers or screen shot lectures. I felt that both of these methods are helpful for learning. An e-textbook can allow students to absorb information simultaneously through the audio and visual channels. I think this can be helpful for students who are easily distracted. The screen shot videos provide demonstrations that are more effective than textual information.
In reference to the role of teachers in MOOCs, it will be exciting to see how that evolves. The impression that I get is that teachers won’t be involved if the courses are continued to be offered for free. By doing so they put themselves in difficult situation. The role of a teacher is to assess students, create activities to fill in the learning gaps, and provide feedback. This can lead to a sizable challenge when classes are open to all participants at varying levels. But I don’t think it’s completely out of the question. For example, you mentioned about the professor’s involvement in the course you examined. Another option might be a volunteer service from educators or experts from their respective fields. I think that if teachers are going to be more involved in MOOCs, there’s going to be added costs associated with it and also a change in the teacher’s role. It seems that Coursera is testing marketing now with the optional fee that it offers. I don’t think this is bad, and learners will also likely see the value of added instructional support at a fair price.