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MOOCs:
Summiting One Peak and Now Climbing Another
Jonathan Schaeffer
Dean of Faculty of Science
dscience@ualberta.ca
MOOC Reality
Whether you agree or disagree with the idea
behind MOOCs, they have already had one
enormous benefit:
When el...
Getting Into MOOCs
• The right reasons
– Explore new teaching/learning methods
– Be a research/teaching leader
– Build nat...
What We’ve Learned
• Resistance to Change
• Student Experience
• Low Completion Rates
• If You Build It, Will They Come?
•...
1. Resistance to Change
• Changing status quo is hard!
• Doing it for the money
– false, at least for now; but is this bad...
2. Student Experience
• One size does not fit all learners
– In-class UofA experience (regimented)
– Online UofA experienc...
3. Low Completion Rates
• Typically in the 4-7% range
– Used to argue MOOCs are poor teaching venues
• Are you surprised, ...
4. If You Build it They Will Come
• Getting harder to build a “best seller”
– >1,000 MOOCs available (many more coming)
– ...
5. Quality Costs Money
• Many low/poor quality MOOCs available
– Assume the student will simply listen for 50 minutes
– Po...
6. Production is not Core
• University mission is research and teaching,
not producing a MOOC
• Academic: pedagogy, instru...
Formula for Success
Pedagogy
+ Gamification
+ High-quality filming & editing production
+ Formative & summative assessment...
Onlea
• Not-for-profit University of
Alberta spin-off company
• Specializing in high-quality
digital learning productions
...
Trends (1)
• MOOCs can be “profitable”
– Revenue (small so far, but there is potential)
– Cost reductions (after investmen...
Trends (2)
• There is a move to shorter courses
– Students prefer “mini-MOOCs”
– Equivalent of 4 weeks instead of 13
• The...
Trends (3)
• Escaping the “not invented here” disease
• Use MOOC material from other institutions
– Use as part of a cours...
Trends (4)
• Electronic textbooks
– The biggest disruption could be the overthrow of
the exploitation of publishing houses...
Coming Soon: New Courses
• Dino 201/2/3 (corner the market)
• Arctic 101, 201/2/3 (reputation)
• Software Product Manageme...
Dino 101 App
• Entire course in a
phone application
• $9.99 US for the
course (no exams)
• Implications?
Where Is All This Going?
• Once technology disrupts a market, it is
relentless in making dramatic changes
• Disruptive cha...
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Are MOOC's past their peak?

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The MOOC movement is only four years old, but has already had a tremendous impact on teaching and learning. While the some of the original hype surrounding MOOCs has not been realized, the reality is that they are here for good and are influencing institutional thinking. This talk will discuss the past, present and future of MOOCs.

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Are MOOC's past their peak?

  1. 1. MOOCs: Summiting One Peak and Now Climbing Another Jonathan Schaeffer Dean of Faculty of Science dscience@ualberta.ca
  2. 2. MOOC Reality Whether you agree or disagree with the idea behind MOOCs, they have already had one enormous benefit: When else has teaching received as much attention?
  3. 3. Getting Into MOOCs • The right reasons – Explore new teaching/learning methods – Be a research/teaching leader – Build national/international reputation – Showcase our research strengths – Set a standard for quality • The wrong reasons – Make money – Eliminate instructors
  4. 4. What We’ve Learned • Resistance to Change • Student Experience • Low Completion Rates • If You Build It, Will They Come? • Quality Costs Money • Production Not Core
  5. 5. 1. Resistance to Change • Changing status quo is hard! • Doing it for the money – false, at least for now; but is this bad? • Online instruction can’t be as good as in-class – false; can even be better • MOOCs threaten the future of universities – true, but only for those that do not adapt to change • MOOCs will replace people – some truth to this (but can be used to free time)
  6. 6. 2. Student Experience • One size does not fit all learners – In-class UofA experience (regimented) – Online UofA experience (flexible) • Excellent student feedback for MOOCs – Very high student evaluations – Very high completion rates – Flexibility appreciated – Students at risk benefitted
  7. 7. 3. Low Completion Rates • Typically in the 4-7% range – Used to argue MOOCs are poor teaching venues • Are you surprised, given that the course is free and that it requires many hours of work? • Dino 101: 18% completion rate • Charge a small fee and completion rates go way up!
  8. 8. 4. If You Build it They Will Come • Getting harder to build a “best seller” – >1,000 MOOCs available (many more coming) – >15 million registered MOOC students (but now growing slowly) • 2014 and before – One-of courses (#enrollments, 100s of 1000s, free) • 2015 and going forward – Specializations (#paying, 10s of 1000s, low cost)
  9. 9. 5. Quality Costs Money • Many low/poor quality MOOCs available – Assume the student will simply listen for 50 minutes – PowerPoint; Talking heads; Documentaries • Must exploit the medium – Multiple forms of media – Interactive learning objects – Filming (on location) – Online assessment – Social media – This can be costly!
  10. 10. 6. Production is not Core • University mission is research and teaching, not producing a MOOC • Academic: pedagogy, instruction, and assessment • Non-academic: computing infrastructure, filming, film editing, script editing, illustrations, video production design, graphic design software development, etc. • Outsource non-academic component
  11. 11. Formula for Success Pedagogy + Gamification + High-quality filming & editing production + Formative & summative assessment approaches + Online consumption/behavior strategy + Earned and viral media strategy = New higher standard of rigorous university MOOC P r o d u c t i o n Academic
  12. 12. Onlea • Not-for-profit University of Alberta spin-off company • Specializing in high-quality digital learning productions for university or industry • Onlea.org
  13. 13. Trends (1) • MOOCs can be “profitable” – Revenue (small so far, but there is potential) – Cost reductions (after investment cost) – Professional development opportunities • Move a large enrolment course online – Reduced instructor, TA, and space needs – Dino 101 reduces costs by over $100K/year – Frees up professor time
  14. 14. Trends (2) • There is a move to shorter courses – Students prefer “mini-MOOCs” – Equivalent of 4 weeks instead of 13 • There is a move to on-demand courses – Take the course any time – Self-directed learning – Meet student needs, not institutional rules
  15. 15. Trends (3) • Escaping the “not invented here” disease • Use MOOC material from other institutions – Use as part of a course (with permission) – For credit (with permission) • Partnering – Multiple institutions banding together to develop a joint course – Challenge: can we do this?
  16. 16. Trends (4) • Electronic textbooks – The biggest disruption could be the overthrow of the exploitation of publishing houses • Use MOOCs as part of building comprehensive online resources that replace textbooks? – Assessment/practice is a challenge in some domains
  17. 17. Coming Soon: New Courses • Dino 201/2/3 (corner the market) • Arctic 101, 201/2/3 (reputation) • Software Product Management (revenue) • Introductory courses in computing science, physics, biology (new ideas in pedagogy)
  18. 18. Dino 101 App • Entire course in a phone application • $9.99 US for the course (no exams) • Implications?
  19. 19. Where Is All This Going? • Once technology disrupts a market, it is relentless in making dramatic changes • Disruptive change must happen… and soon – Creating rich online learning experiences – Offering courses from other institutions – Changing the in-class experience – Creation of virtual universities • Exciting opportunities… for teaching and research

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