Loving and hating a MOOC. MITx 11.132x Design and Development of Educational Technology

Posted in 'Articles by the MoocLab Community' started by Ramon, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Ramon

    Ramon Member

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    Author: Ramón Talavera Franco
    @ratafra

    Registering for a MOOC while working full time and being a part time Ed.D. student is challenging. Complying with its pedagogical components (videos, readings, assignments), and participating in its forums, groups, hangouts, etc., is a major task, especially, when the course is designed using the same concept of a course taught at a university level. The huge difference between them both is that a course taken at a university offers credits towards a degree while MOOCs do not offer those credits. Hence, if MOOCs pedagogical and assessment demands are similar to college courses, shouldn’t students receive recognition according to those demands?

    I just finished the MITx 11.132x Design and Development of Educational Technology MOOC, and I have mixed feelings about it. The positive aspect is the six-weeks syllabus. We learned Edtech theory and learning approaches such as constructivism, constructionism, teaching for understanding, active learning, collaborative learning, and design based research through readings and videos. We also had the opportunity to communicate with peers through online video chats and conference tools such as Google hangouts, unhangouts, talkabouts, groups, and forums. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of my peers through these meetings, and I built a friendship with a person from Sri Lanka. I’m sure that she and I will continue our conversation about MOOCs soon.

    However, there was a part of the course that did not work: the system to submit our assignments. Profesor Klopfer, the designer and lecturer of this course, decided to use the forum page as the venue to post our assignments, instead of using a proper peer-review tool. As mentioned in a previous post, using forums caused apathy and as a result, very few assignments received feedback.

    Throughout the six-week course, we were asked to work on a series of assignments that would result in a product-pitch for a “well-designed and pedagogically-sound educational technology” (Kopfler, 2014). The assignments were divided in: 1) identifying the problem (describing the topic, type of learners and learning challenges), 2) 30-60 minutes elevator pitch video, 3) a description of a case scenario, 4) deciding what assessments the course would need, and 5) a final presentation for the project.

    Each one of the assignments demanded time, a lot of time that is sometimes difficult to find after our daily obligations (in my case working eight hours and studying for 3 to 4 hours daily for my Ed.D.). Therefore, the minimum expectation that we had after posting an assignment was to receive feedback. In a regular course, feedback during class is instantaneous. In an online environment, the best way to receive feedback is through a peer-review tool that requires that each one of us read and review three to five peers’ assignments in order to receive our own. Using the forum to submit assignments interfered with the peer-review mechanic and let each student decide how many assignments to read and comment on. Forums are intended to be discussed voluntarily and are not mandatory. Therefore, people tend to join a discussion if the topic appeals to them.

    Additionally, it is important to consider that the earlier somebody posts something, the faster the post will move down to the end of the discussion thread. Therefore, if the discussion is 15 pages in length with 15 posts each, early posts move to the last pages. If a student logs in and finds interesting posts in pages 1, 2 or 3…why bother visiting pages 13, 14 or 15?

    The inconvenience of the assignment system chosen for this course was a recurring topic among the video chats that I had with some of my peers. In a MOOC it is practically impossible to receive feedback from the lecturer of the course due to the large number of students taking it. Therefore, the peer-review system offers the possibility of receiving some kind of feedback that supports our learning process. As a student who has taken nine MOOCs from different providers, I can compare their peer-review efficacy. The one selected for this course was the worst.

    Wrapping up… the information in the MITx 11.132x Design and Development of Educational Technology MOOC was very valuable and useful in fulfilling some of my educational goals. The topics discussed in the readings and videos helped me better understand the different perspectives on educational technology. Videoconferences and chats were excellent tools in which to listen to professor Kopfler’s, and many other educational technology specialists’ perspectives. The assignments were interesting and we learned many of the topics discussed during the course through them. However, the chaos caused by submitting our assignments through the discussion forum reduced the quality of the course, and the participation of the students.

    There is still a question that has to be answered. I registered for this course though the edX verified certificate of achievement. I was asked to submit my photo and a photo of an official Id through the use of a webcam to verify my identity. Now that I finished the course. I’m supposed to receive said certificate at the beginning of 2015. However, I was never asked again to re-verify my identity while taking the course, and if my assignments were practically never peer-reviewed… aren’t these two concerns enough to start questioning the validity of the verified certificate?
    Reference:
    Klopfer, E. (2014). MITx 11.132x Design and Development of Educational Technology. Retrieved from: https://courses.edx.org/courses/MITx/11.132x/3T2014/1f41b0ba07694ef098372362de41f232/

    Ramón Talavera Franco is an Ed.D. students, instructional designer, and blogger. Read more MOOC articles at: http://moocstream.blogspot.com
     
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  2. Bluebeard

    Bluebeard Member

    Really interesting article - thanks for sharing @Ramon :)
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  3. Ramon

    Ramon Member

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    Thank you For your comment!
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  4. MDH

    MDH Active Member Study Buddy

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    This raises an interesting point. Should the forums be mandatory? My view is yes although implementing it would be difficult. But making the forums an integral part of the course would, to my mind, improve completion rates and overall course satisfaction.
    Thanks for your post- very interesting read.
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  5. Ramon

    Ramon Member

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    I had a very positive experience using forums in another MOOC. In that MOOC the submission of our assignments using forums was optional because we were using a peer-review tool to post them (great experience!). Yet, some of us wanted to share our assignments through the discussion forum voluntarily, not mandatory. However, I agree with you that forums must be an integral part of the course and that they can help to reduce the dropout rate. Also, I agree that in order to make the forums more efficient, more research and work is needed.

    In fact, in the English composition 1 achieving expertise MOOC, forums were an important part of the course. If you are interested, here is the link that talks about my experience in that course:

    http://moocstream.blogspot.com/2014/03/what-is-moocstream.html#.VJQu9cAAFA

    Thank you for your comment!
     
    Carolyn likes this.
  6. MattB

    MattB Active Member

    You are right that the "verified" certificate system certainly isn't cheat proof. We still have a long way to go in order to find a way of delivering credentials that institutions and employers feel comfortable with. Until then MOOCs won't really be taken seriously which is a great shame.
     
  7. Ramon

    Ramon Member

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    You are right. The main point is that institutions that provide MOOCs are the ones that should take MOOCs seriously. I felt sometimes that the people responsible of the course I refer to in my post, didn't take seriously the assignment component. If they didn't take much attention to it, then student's work was not taken into consideration. Moreover, if assignments were not properly assessed... what is the validity of the certificate that I'm going to receive? As you mention, a better way to deliver credentials is needed.
     
    MattB and Carolyn like this.
  8. MattB

    MattB Active Member

    I hadn't considered it from the perspective of the MOOC providers, but now that you mention it, yes...if they don't even take the MOOC seriously enough, this type of learning won't have much chance of overcoming the credentials issues it currently faces.
     
  9. JosepRamon Badia

    JosepRamon Badia Active Member

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    Male
    Location:
    Barcelona
    Really a great post, @Ramon. I absolutely agree with you, not about this MOOC (I didn't take part in), but in general. And I think that the key question realted with the future and quality of e-larning & MOOC is the reinvention of the assestments formula, homeworks and these stuff. Becaus I fell they offer a classic way of doing those, in a new-tech landscape, which has the capabilities for create new formulas for doing that! Is a contradiction? Also about the long time required for doing our hometasks...another new sort of contradiction: MOOCs reason to be is the comfort of developing learning at home and with much shorter times than the traditional way (book, elbows and memory)...so...it becomes a hours for doing a task, specially if you have an end-date!! Innovation, please, MOOC,s providers!!
     

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