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Pedagogy of MOOCs


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Webinar given for University of Cape Town 17-Oct-2013 exploring the pedagogical differences between cMOOCs and xMOOCs. Pedagogical recommendations given along with recommendations around adoption approaches for universities.

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Hi Paul,

    Very interesting research you had shared to help me evolve my work at an early stage. Innovations and Pedagogy can help MOOC live or die.

    Still waiting for what the future market will offer to open learners / contributors. Its just the beginning of MOOCera.

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  • Greetings Paul,
    I really enjoyed and appreciated the very valuable information you shared through this presentation.
    I definitely will read it more and more, it is never enough to get inspiration on such subjects that matter today for the better good of global education and its sustainability. I am pretty sure today's people will appreciate your contribution as tomorrow's ones will thank you bunches...
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Pedagogy of MOOCs

  1. 1. The Pedagogy of MOOCs University of Cape Town Seminar 17-Oct-2013 This presentation is based on my Pedagogy of MOOCs blog post at: with Paul Stacey Associate Director of Global Learning Creative Commons Except where otherwise noted these materials are licensed Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY)
  2. 2. Internet, Social Networking, Online Learning Networked Teacher Diagram – Update by Alec Couros CC BY-NC-SA
  3. 3. Education Openness Open Access Open Source Software
  4. 4. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) 2012 The MOOC! The Movie by Giulia Forsythe CC BY-NC-SA
  5. 5. The Pedagogy of MOOCs How can you effectively teach thousands of students simultaneously? I’m fascinated by the contrast between post-secondary faculty and K-12 teacher contract agreements that limit class size and the current emergent MOOC aim of having as many enrollments as possible. What a dichotomy. How well are MOOC’s doing at successfully teaching students? Based on MOOCs equally massive dropout rates having teaching and learning success on a massive scale will require pedagogical innovation. It’s this innovation, more than massive enrollments or free that I think make MOOC’s important.
  6. 6. Early MOOCs 2007 Alec Couros
  7. 7. Early MOOCs 2008 & 2009 George Siemens Stephen Downes
  8. 8. Early MOOCs 2010 Stephen Downes George Siemens Dave Cormier Rita Kop
  9. 9. Early MOOCs 2011 George Siemens Jon Dron Dave Cormier Sylvia Currie Tanya Elias
  10. 10. Common Features of Early MOOCs • Open to anyone to participate. • Some of these early MOOC’s, taught by university faculty, had tuition paying students taking the course for university credit who were joined in the the same class with non-tuition paying, non-credit students who got to fully participate in a variety of non-formal ways. Alec Couros pedagogically designed his graduate course in a way that relies on the participation of noncredit students. • Other early MOOC’s were solely offered as a form of informal learning open to anyone for free without a for-credit component. • Openly licensed using Creative Commons licenses
  11. 11. Pedagogy of cMOOCs • These early MOOCs, known as connectivist or cMOOCs, focus on knowledge creation and generation rather than knowledge duplication. • In cMOOCs, the learners take a greater role in shaping their learning experiences than in traditional online courses. • Four key characteristics - autonomy, diversity, openness, and connectedness/interactivity • Dave Cormier maps out the five steps to success in a cMOOC – 1. Orient, 2. Declare, 3. Network, 4. Cluster, 5. Focus. • Faculty/facilitators focus on fostering a space for learning connections to occur.
  12. 12. Pedagogy of cMOOCs • PLENK2010 is an unusual course. It does not consist of a body of content you are supposed to remember. • The learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person. • This course is not conducted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the web. We will provide some facilities. But we expect your activities to take place all over the internet. We will ask you to visit other people’s web pages, and even to create some of your own. • This connectivist course is based on four major types of activity –1. Aggregate, 2. Remix, 3. Repurpose, 4. Feed Forward.
  13. 13. Pedagogy of cMOOCs • Learning happens within a network • Learners use digital platforms such as blogs, wikis, social media platforms to make connections with content, learning communities and other learners to create and construct knowledge. • Participant blog posts, tweets etc. are aggregated by course organizers and shared with all participants via daily email, newsletter, forum, RSS feed, … My Twitter Social Ego Networks by David Rodrigues CC BY-NC-SA Social Learning
  14. 14. In those early pioneering days MOOCs were exciting for their pedagogy! Even the courses were about innovative pedagogy – Social Media & Open Education, Connectivism, Personal Learning Environments, Learning Analytics, … 21st century Learner by Giulia Forsythe CC BY-NC-SA
  15. 15. • In 2011 MOOC’s migrated to the US with Jim Groom’s DS106 Digital Storytelling at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. • DS106 is a credit course at UMW, but you can also be an “open participant“.
  16. 16. New Pedagogical Directions • Rather than assignments created by faculty, ds106 course assignments are collectively created by course participants over all offerings of the course. • The Assignment Bank is online and anyone can access it. • Having course participants collectively build course assignments for use by students in future classes is a hugely significant pedagogical innovation.
  17. 17. • ds106 is the first ever online course with its own radio station - ds106 radio • The pedagogical potential of a course radio station is an exciting but relatively unexplored opportunity.
  18. 18. MOOCs Go Massive • Fall of 2011 Stanford Engineering professors offered three of the school’s most popular computer science courses for free online as MOOCs – Machine Learning, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, and Introduction to Databases • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course offered free and online to students worldwide from October 10th to December 18th 2011 was the biggest surprise • Taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig this course really was massive attracting 160,000 students from over 190 countries
  19. 19. Stanford MOOC Pedagogy • Pedagogically a step backward • Watch video lecture recordings, read course materials, complete assignments, take quizzes and an exam • Gone were the rich pedagogical innovations from earlier MOOC’s • Simply migrated campus-based didatic methods of teaching to the online environment • Absence of any effort to utilize the rich body of research on how to teach online effectively • While didactic, lecture based methods of teaching have long been the mainstay of bricks and mortar schools we know that this method of teaching does not transfer well to online
  20. 20. • Sebastian Thrun leaves Stanford and raises venture capital to launch Udacity • Mission to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world.
  21. 21. Pedagogy of Udacity • Udacity courses include lecture videos, quizzes and homework assignments. • Multiple short (~5 min.) video sections make up each course unit. • All Udacity courses are made up of distinct units = a week’s worth of instruction and homework. • Since Udacity enrollment is open, you can take as long as you want to complete. • Udacity courses include discussion forums and a wiki for course notes, additional explanations, examples and extra materials. • Each course has an area where instructors can make comments but the pedagogical emphasis is on selfstudy.
  22. 22. Pedagogy of Udacity • Udacity courses do have an informal discussion forum where students can post any ideas and thoughts they have about the course, ask questions, and receive feedback from other students • Free participation is non-credit • A few courses can be taken for credit (from California institutions) for a fee • Udacity offers job placement service in partnership with various employers
  23. 23. • Late December 2011 MIT announced edX • Aim of letting thousands of online learners take laboratory-intensive courses, while assessing their ability to work through complex problems, complete projects, and write assignments. • October 2013, 76 courses, 29 partners
  24. 24. Pedagogy of edX • As with other MOOC style offerings edX students won’t have interaction with faculty or earn credit toward an MIT degree. • For a small fee students can take an assessment which, if successfully completed, will provide them with a certificate from edX. • EdX offers honor code certificates, ID verified certificates, and XSeries certificates (successfully completing a series of courses) • edX platform used to conduct experiments on how students learn and how faculty can best teach. Assessing course data, from mouse clicks to time spent on tasks, to evaluating how students respond to various assessments.
  25. 25. Pedagogy of edX • Initial edX aim was to improve teaching and learning of tuition paying on-campus students. Have revised aim to developing best practices to enhance the student experience and improve teaching and learning both on campus and online • Pedagogy very similar to Udacity • Regrettably the rich body of research about online learning is not being used • Focus of edX so far is not on pedagogy but on engineering an open source MOOC platform
  26. 26. • April 2012 Stanford computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller launch Coursera as an educational technology company offering MOOCs. • Oct 2013 have 5,112,216 Courserians, 461 courses, and 91 partners
  27. 27. Pedagogy of Coursera • Video lectures, mastery learning, and peer assessment. • Retrieval and testing for learning. Interaction = the video frequently stops, and students are asked to answer a simple question to test whether they are tracking the material. • Coursera provides university partners with a flipped classroom. MOOC handles the lecture, course reading, some assessment & peer-to-peer interaction for campusbased tuition paying students. On-campus activities focused more on active learning & instructor help. • Non-tuition paying open participants have no active learning component. Students are tossed a tidbit of social learning in the form of discussion forums.
  28. 28. MOOCs, Walled Gardens, Analytics and Network: Multi-generation pedagogical innovations by Giulia Forsythe CC BY-NC-SA xMOOCs use objectivist and behaviourist methods of teaching and learning.
  29. 29. Are MOOCs Really Open? MOOC or MOC? No, all rights reserved. Partial, CC BY-NC on some No, non-OER license. Yes, CC BY or CC BY-SA No, all rights reserved. Note: some institutions using CC anyway. Most MOOCs are open only in the sense of free enrollment.
  30. 30.
  31. 31. Recommendations for MOOC Pedagogy • Learning is not just acquiring a body of knowledge and skills. Learning happens through relationships. • Online learning pedagogies can be incredibly social even more so than campus-based courses - MOOCs should use this long-standing practice • The best online pedagogies are those that use the open web and relationship to mine veins of knowledge, expertise, and connections between students, between students and the instructor, and between students and others on the open web. • Socio-constructivist and connectivist learning theories acknowledge and embrace the social nature of learning. • Use social learning including blogs, chat, discussion forums, wikis, and group assignments.
  32. 32. Recommendations for MOOC Pedagogy • Use peer-to-peer pedagogies over self study. We know this improves learning outcomes. The cost of enabling a network of peers is the same as that of networking content – essentially zero. • Be as open as possible. Use open pedagogies that leverage the entire web not just the specific content in the MOOC platform. • Use OER and openly license your resources using Creative Commons licenses in a way that allows reuse, revision, remix, and redistribution. • Leverage massive participation – have all students contribute something that adds to or improves the course overall.
  33. 33. Recommendations for UCT • Organize an inter-disciplinary group/committee to evaluate MOOC options and recommend a particular MOOC provider/platform • Define purpose of UCT doing MOOCs • Design a UCT MOOC pedagogical strategy • Initial MOOCs may come from academic areas already engaged in online learning – commerce, medicine, … • Alternatively MOOCs could showcase courses that highlight what makes UCT special and unique
  34. 34. Four Barriers That MOOCs Must Overcome To Build a Sustainable Model Phil Hill Need pedagogically based business models.
  35. 35. Special Issue on Massive Open Online Courses George Veletsianos
  36. 36. For more on the history of MOOCs, what is a MOOC, and news on MOOCs see:
  37. 37. Paul Stacey Q&A Creative Commons web site: e-mail: blog: presentation slides: