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Oer14 teaching programming to beginners in a mooc


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Oer14 teaching programming to beginners in a mooc

  1. 1. © University of Reading 2008 School of Systems Engineering April 28, 2014 Teaching Programming to Beginners in a Massive Open Online Course Tharindu Liyanagunawardena
  2. 2. 2 Background • Begin Programming: Build your first mobile game (#FLMobiGame) • University of Reading – First MOOC • Autumn 2013 – Start Date: 28th Oct – Duration: 7 Weeks • FutureLearn - Beta • Basic programming concepts – Java – Android
  3. 3. #FLMobiGame • One of the first courses announced by FutureLearn • Enrolment capped ~10,000 by platform • Huge demand – Course launch: 18th September 2013 – Class full: 19th September 2013 – Next run registration opened: 19th September 2013 (without start date!) • Commitment: 3 hours p/w 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Lessons Learned • Learners in MOOCs have different intentions 5
  6. 6. Learners are Diverse • Beginner Course? 6
  7. 7. Age Distribution 7 • Over 55s – 18%
  8. 8. Engaging Elderly 8 I daresay more eye rolling and tutting from my son who's studying programming at Uni in Brisbane. He's of the opinion that 'old people' should leave technology to the young people forgetting of course that it was old people who developed the technology when they were young people! Thanks very much for an interesting course...Not sure that I will do much more but at least I have a game on my phone that I can show my grandchild and say "I did some of that!"
  9. 9. Inspiring the Young • School Groups – Sixth form students (16-17 year olds) from Ousedale School • Primary School Children & Parents – FutureLearn terms does not allow under 13 years on platform • Great opportunity for outreach • Programmers and Software Developers are in ‘shortage occupation list’ (UK Border Agency, 2013) 9 UK Border Agency. (2013). Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List – Government-approved version – valid from 6 April 2013, Retrieved from
  10. 10. Challenges • Addressing Expectations of a diverse group – At least 103 territories – Use of Simple English – Participants from developing countries • Struggling with downloads 10 Internet connection is a very big problem when it comes to MOOC's …please can the size of these videos be reduced even if it means reducing the quality of videos. I live in Nigeria and internet is very expensive … I can't afford constant internet so I visit the cafe thrice or twice a week to SECRETLY download materials …
  11. 11. Digital Literacy • Beginner Level Programming Course • Expected some level of digital literacy – Unable to install software – Unable to unzip a file – Unable to copy and paste * Additional resources made available 11 Misuse of Forums • Trolls • Reporting to Moderator / addressed by lead educator • Back channel email communication among team
  12. 12. Platform Support • Platform in Beta stage • Limited tools and facilities – Search facility – Course notices – Reply notifications – Issues with displaying programming code • Course team had to be agile in adapting to developing platform’s functionality 12
  13. 13. Listening to Participants • Responsive to Participant feedback – Blog – Support material on platform • Identify champions among participants • Building trust • Active support by course team • Social Media presence 13 Community formation
  14. 14. Conclusion • Only a small proportion of the initial registrants completed all activities* • Feedback from participants indicates of positive learning outcomes • The popularity of FLMobiGame suggests that similar approaches could be adapted in MOOCs * See more on Futurelearn initial course statistics 14
  15. 15. Thank you 15 Contributors: Dr. Tharindu R. Liyanagunawardena Dr. Karsten Lundqvist Mr. Luke Micallef Prof. Shirley A. Williams Please take part in the survey at opout