In a 2010 talk, TED curator Chris Anderson describes the concept of “crowd-accelerated innovation”—a self-fueling cycle of learning which has accelerated through the ubiquity of web-based video, Adam Ring writes at Quartz. In Anderson’s view, this mechanism of iteration and immediate feedback has made the Ted Talk and many other iterative processes evolve in dramatic ways. Anderson explains that part of the reason TED evolved so quickly is that you had some of the best and most creative individuals in the world prepare extensively for their talk by watching their predecessors. Through this iterative process, the presentations consistently improve—if only out of fear of disappointing their audience. This phenomenon can also be felt in many areas of society from dance to politics but also underpins the innovation going on in the rapidly evolving landscape for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

With thousands of students enrolling in each MOOC, the amount of student feedback is exponentially greater than what a faculty member would receive in a traditional academic setting.  Consider that a traditional higher education class size is 10 to 200 students, while MOOC s can range from 3,000-250,000 per class. Moreover, MOOC course instructors can also see for essentially the first time the latest methods and styles their peers at other institutions are employing to determine which course components work and which don’t.

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