A blueprint for creating a successful MOOC

Brick-to-click education is not a matter of if, but rather, now. In a constantly growing global community, education modalities are evolving to meet the demands of a knowledge-thirsty and driven population.

One approach to meet these demands is the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are intended to:

  • Host large numbers of students.
  • Accommodate an internationally diverse community.
  • Increase access for students from non-traditional regions.
  • Support international marketing and recruitment strategies for universities.

However, the almost-10-year experience with MOOCs has yielded mixed outcomes. The average retention rate for MOOCs is four percent of the enrolled class, which defeats the purpose of providing accessible, available, and equitable education.…Read More

Adaptive learning featured in HarvardX course

HarvardX, a Harvard University strategic initiative, is running a massive open online course (MOOC) featuring adaptive learning and assessment algorithms, which tailor course material in response to student performance.

Adaptive learning functionality–never before offered in a HarvardX course and featured in a few courses across the edX online learning platform–has been deployed in Super-Earths and Life, instructed by Harvard’s Phillips Professor of Astronomy Dimitar Sasselov. The effort aims to gain a preliminary assessment of the technological feasibility and implications of adaptive functionality to online course design.

“Adaptive learning programs are very good at speeding up information acquisition and lengthening retention, as well as individualizing learning to help learners see where they have difficulty,” said Peter K. Bol, Harvard’s Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) and Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.…Read More

Harvard and MIT release new trends report on open online courses

A joint research team from Harvard University and MIT today announced the release of a comprehensive report on learner engagement and behavior in 290 massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Building on their prior work – 2014 and 2015 benchmark reports describing the first two years of open online courses launched on edX, a non-profit learning platform co-founded by the two institutions – the team’s new study reviews four years of data and represents one of the largest surveys of MOOCs: spanning 290 MIT and Harvard online courses, a quarter-million certifications, 4.5 million participants and 28 million participant-hours.

The report is the latest product stemming from a collaborative, cross-institutional research effort led by Isaac Chuang, MIT Senior Associate Dean of Digital Learning and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Professor of Physics, and Andrew Ho, Chair of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) Research Committee and Professor of Education at Harvard. The group’s four years of research aims to address questions about the evolution of the MOOC movement, building upon findings from previous reports.…Read More

These are the top 50 MOOCs

Of the top 50 MOOCs, the No. 1 spot belongs to a computer science course–an introduction to interactive programming in Python, to be exact.

The list from Class Central ranks MOOCs based on thousands of reviews written by Class Central users, Dhawal Shah noted in a blog post. The rankings will be updated as reviews increase and change.

“In providing a small but well-reviewed list of courses, our hope is that new learners will not be overwhelmed when entering the MOOC space. Reviews will help new learners figure out if a course is right for them, and they will have a great first experience,” Shah noted.…Read More

MITx philosophy MOOC introduces instructor grading

If one of the core philosophies of online learning is to democratize education, then a new verified certificate option for a philosophy course on MITx on edX — the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by the Institute — brings the concept full circle.

Starting Aug. 29, Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness will enable students to obtain a verified ID certificate and have their work graded and commented upon by professional philosophers. Learners from any background, anywhere in the world, can pursue the certificate option to add credibility and value to the accomplishment of completing the course.

“This is a big deal — the first MITx humanities course to offer students the chance to write a paper and have it carefully reviewed by instructors,” says Caspar Hare, who will be running the popular MOOC for the third time. “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.”…Read More

Can Facebook boost MOOC retention?

A new study on MOOC course design reveals that students prefer Facebook’s collaboration and interaction features to those of built-in MOOC communication tools.

Social media tools might be the key to keeping students engaged in MOOCs and preventing course dropouts, according to new research on MOOC course design that was presented at the annual ACM conference on Learning at Scale on April 26.

A study comparing students’ use of their MOOC course’s built-in message boards and forums to the same students’ use of course Facebook group revealed that students seemed more engaged in the Facebook groups. Students told researchers they preferred social media interaction to interacting with the MOOC communication tools.

Results of the study have implications for future MOOC course design, the researchers said in their paper, parts of which are available by registering for the Learning at Scale flipped conference online.…Read More

Does your institution offer these top online degrees?

A new report outlines how institutions’ curricular offerings, specifically via online degrees, will have to evolve to meet the demands of tomorrow’s students.

According to a new report from ed-tech solutions provider The Learning House, 62 percent of online college students decide what they are interested in studying before they decide which school to attend, which means institutions must have in place the right programs to attract students.

The report, “Growth Opportunities in Higher Education: Degrees and Alternate Pathways,” outlines key opportunities for growth that universities should consider based on expected shifts in employer needs, and therefore, student demand. It also identifies specific higher education offerings with the greatest potential for future use.

“As higher education continues to evolve, innovation will come not just in the field of study offered, but
also in redefining the very nature of what a credential is and how it should be delivered,” according to the report. “As students continue to require new skills and need to gain those skills as quickly and inexpensively as possible, colleges and universities will need to compete not just with themselves but also with the numerous education ventures that are reacting to this need and developing outside of the traditional institutional model.”…Read More

Developing country MOOC users not like those in the U.S.

Unlike in the U.S., completion and certification rates are actually growing for developing country MOOC users.

A new study from researchers at the University of Washington has revealed that half of developing country MOOC users are receiving certification. And while many assume that the main barrier to developing country MOOC use is lack of technology skills or access, the huge barrier to sign-up has nothing to do with technology, say non-users.

These are just of the interesting statistics gleaned from a survey of 1,400 MOOC users and 2,250 non-users between the ages of 18 and 35 in Colombia, the Philippines and South Africa–part of research conducted by the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington’s Information School. The data shows that learners in developing countries are using MOOCs very differently than their developed world counterparts. Namely, it found that these learners have much higher MOOC completion rates as well as different user demographics.

However, developing countries still have barriers to online learning of their own to overcome.…Read More

ASU’s Global Freshman Academy will use adaptive ALEKS software

Adaptive learning program to be used by tens of thousands of students enrolled in College Algebra & Problem Solving course

Learning science company McGraw-Hill Education announced that its ALEKS adaptive software program will be used in Arizona State University’s College Algebra & Problem Solving course in its online Global Freshman Academy.

The Global Freshman Academy is a partnership between ASU, the largest public research university in the U.S., and massive open online course (MOOC) provider edX. To date, more than 17,800 students from 186 countries have registered for the College Algebra & Problem Solving course using the ALEKS program, which will provide students with individualized learning and instruct them on the topics they are most ready to learn.

“We are very pleased ALEKS is part of the Global Freshman Academy,” said Stephen Laster, Chief Digital Officer for McGraw-Hill Education. “This is the first time that ALEKS has been available in a MOOC format and thousands of students will now have the opportunity to use this amazing and effective learning program.”…Read More