Ethnography of a mooc exploring dan ariely's course on coursera

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Ethnography of a mooc exploring dan ariely's course on coursera

  1. 1. Power, Pedagogy, and Process:An exploration of learning and educationon CourseraThomas ShieldsCandidate for MBA19 April 2013Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are post-secondary level classes taught completely onlineand open to anyone and which, recently, have been touted as a panacea to current educationalchallenges. Only a year old, Coursera is one of the most popular MOOC platforms with nearly 3million users. However, with Coursera’s newness, popularity, and high attrition rates (70-95%), thereis significant controversy over its effectiveness. As a new educational and social phenomenon, therehas been little research on MOOCs and much of the debate over Coursera is based on an a prioriunderstanding of the experience. I conducted ethnographic research on the Coursera experience,comparing an online course with the same course run simultaneously in a traditional lectureclassroom as well as drawing on experiences from other Coursera courses, interviews, andCoursera.org artifacts. This study aims to better inform the current debate and explore how thelearning experience on Coursera both reinforces and reconstitutes power structures, knowledgecreation, and pedagogy in education.Abstract
  2. 2. Can Coursera make elite higher education moredemocratic and accessible?>• “Take the world’s best coursesonline, for free!”• 62 universities, 320+ courses, &3M+ students• 33,000 median number of studentsin one MOOC1• 2,600 median number whocompleted with a passing grade1• 100 median number of hoursprofessors spend preparing for aMOOC1“We hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been availableonly to a select few. We want to empower peoplewith education that will improve their lives, thelives of their families, and the communities theylive in.” –Coursera WesbiteStaff. “Higher Education: Not what it use to be.” The Economist. Dec.1, 2012.http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21567373-american-universities-represent-declining-value-money-their-students-not-what-it.1Kolowich, Steve. “Professors who Make the MOOCs.” Chronicle ofHigher Education. Mar. 18, 2013.http://chronicle.com/article/The-Professors-Behind-the-MOOC/137905/#id=overview
  3. 3. Coursera [online learning] faces 3 challenges to meet itsmission to “empower people with education.”Pedagogy HegemonyEpistemologyFocus on positivistknowledge domainsMarginalization ofhumanities, socialscienceTruth or truth?Limited modalities oflearningSage on the Stage vs.Guide at the SideBanking model ofeducationWhat is to become oflocal knowledge. . . ifknowledge is framed [by]professors and MOOCproducers. . . from theirwestern vantage pointsat privileged institutions?Panopticon ofEducationEntire slide sourced from:Rhoads, et al. “The Opencourseware Movement in Higher Education: Unmasking power and raising questionsabout the movement’s democratic potential.” Educational Theory. Vol. 63, Num. 1, 2013. Pg 87-109.Michel Foucault Paulo Freire Clifford Geertz
  4. 4. Coursera offers courses from top universities thatare time constrained and from a variety of subjects.Subjects include:• Arts• Business• Computer Science• Education• Science• Humanities• Math• Music, Film, and Audio• Information, Tech, and DesignLanding PageExplore Courses Page
  5. 5. My study focused on Dan Ariely’s “IrrationalBehavior” course; enrolled concurrently at Fuqua
  6. 6. Coursera’s pedagogical and epistemologicalapproach are mixed in addressing criticism“Talking head” = Sage onStageLecture hall pedagogyreinforced by videos,readings, and quizzes.Discussionboard,qualitativeassignments,hangouts,meetups, & wikiallow forconstruction ofknowledge
  7. 7. Coursera has strove to internationalize its platformand limit Western hegemonyU.S.RussiaBrazilIndiaInternational enrollment in“Irrational Behavior”China?Courses offered “natively” in Chinese, French,Spanish, and Italian; translated into many moreCoursera languagesword cloud
  8. 8. Coursera has made progress in addressing criticismof MOOCs; needs further research• Pedagogy is better than typical lecture hall class –more opportunities for students to actively engageon Coursera.• Professors will drive success – reputation, quality,pedagogy, epistemology. Creating a course is ahuge burden. Without support in doing this, theywill simply regurgitate “sage on a stage model.”• Platform is growing; role in education is undefined.• Depth of student engagement is an unsettledissue
  9. 9. THANK YOU!

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