blended learning

Can blended learning reach superstar status with MOOCs?

Compilation of case studies that describe use of MOOCs as part of blended learning provides insights into new potential for massive online courses.

blendedThe verdict may still be out on the effectiveness of MOOCs on their own to improve learning outcomes and bring value to an institution, but could MOOCs have a more definitive positive impact in a blended or hybrid model; specifically, as incorporated in traditional, face-to-face courses?

To try and help answer this question, Maria Joseph Israel, School of Education, University of San Francisco, reviewed five recent college and university experiments that used MOOCs in a blended format in traditional classroom settings, and synthesized the findings into challenges and opportunities presented by this MOOC integration.

“Of late, a growing number of researchers, teachers, colleges, and universities have begun to report integrating MOOCs in a traditional classroom setting to support face-to-face learning experiences in a blended format,” writes Israel. “Understanding its intricacies can promote further research as well as assist improving the design of future MOOCs, and inform useful strategies for similar implementation by others.”

The case studies chosen by Israel vary in student size from a small 10 to hundreds of students, number of courses adopted from a single course to a maximum of 17 courses, duration of experiment from a single semester to multiple semesters spread over two academic years, and adoption methods from a supplementary text to a fully integrated course in traditional classrooms.

Israel states that not only can the models be divided into two categories: Single MOOC adoption and multiple MOOCs adoption, but each of these categories can be further divided into models adopting ‘live’ or archived MOOCs as replacement for traditional in-campus courses and models adopting MOOCs as supplementary texts.

The cases highlighted multiple emerging models, such as:

  • Synchronizing an entire MOOC with in-class courses as done by Patti Ordonez-Rozo at University of Puerto Rico Rio Perdras using Stanford’s introduction to databases (Caulfield et al., 2014)
  • Using select modules of MOOCs while supplementing with additional reading materials as implemented by Bruff et al. (2014) research team
  • Adopting MOOCS without the assessments provided by MOOCs as conducted in University System of Maryland by Griffiths et al. (2014) research team
  • Integrating augmented online learning environment for courses offered at San Jose State University by Firmin et al. (2014) research team
  • Allowing students to take any archived or ‘live’ MOOCs related to subject taught in traditional classroom by Holotescu et al.(2014) research team
  • Combining multiple MOOCs run in different universities or in MOOC providers’ platforms as suggested by Bruff et al. (2014) and Caulfield et al. (2014).

(Next page: 3 findings; challenges and recommendations)