Doing your research in a MOOC

September 23, 2013 § 4 Comments

Imagine research with no internet...

Imagine research without internet…

You recently started the UvA MOOC ‘Introduction to Communication Science’ (or any other MOOC) and you’re already feeling overwhelmed. So much to learn in a short period of time… Of course, the content available in the MOOC itself it’s enough for you to complete quizzes and the final exam. However, what if you want to explore the topic further? Should you read all texts recommended? Perhaps you’re a professional already and has one specific interest about what other researches are saying about contemporary rhetorical theory… Where should you look? Indeed, there are many sources – from your favorite library to the web. But because MOOCs are mainly online, today I’m going to focus on great open digital resources you can use to enrich your experience in the course.

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MOOC Master Thesis

August 1, 2013 § 7 Comments

Moocscloud.bmpAfter some weeks of anxiety, finally the message pops-up on my inbox: my MOOC Master Thesis has been approved by the University!

In almost 8 months, I worked on my thesis entitled Effects of new media technologies in high education: An analysis of pedagogies and learning experiences in MOOCs. Must say it was not easy to research MOOCs. Much of my work was empirical and my main research question was: to what extent are new media technologies creating learning practices online and impacting the traditional model of higher education?

To answer this question, I mainly analyzed and compared four different courses:

1 – Coursera’s ‘E- learning and Digital Cultures’ (EDCMOOC), from the University of Edinburgh;

2 – EdX ‘7.00x Introduction to Biology – The Secret of Life’, from MIT

3 – Udacity’s ‘Introduction to Statistics’ (ST101), by Sebastian Thrun and Adam Sherwin.

4- UvA’s ‘Introduction to Communication Science’, which was the first MOOC from the University of Amsterdam. This blog was a huge help for me to gather and analyze material and comments for this course.

By applying characteristics of new media in online courses, I also asked the following questions concerning teaching, learning, and applications of the theory of connectivism in MOOCs: what kind of interface do open online courses have? Which new media features are being used on MOOCs to transmit knowledge and create assignments?  What is the role of students and professors in a MOOC? To what extent are courses applying the theory of connectivism on their strategies? Could connectivism improve new practices of e-learning?

It was a hard work for me, but also really fun. It was an amazing experience to study so many different platforms and be in touch with many innovative pedagogies. This work also gave me the opportunity to meet great people, online and offline. I hope MOOCs can also inspire future researches, because I believe there are potentials of social, economic, technological and educational matters that can be explored further. In my conclusion, I could verify that it might be unclear how technology will modify higher education, but it will be affected not only by new media, but also pedagogic, economic and social aspects. MOOCs might not threaten higher education degrees but offer students the possibility to be in touch with academic content in many different areas and levels for free. In addition, courses give them mobility and flexibility to choose their own curriculum.

It’s quite a long work, but if if you’re somehow interested in MOOCs it might offer you some insights and answers. You can download the thesis here.

MOOC forum: does it enrich e-learning?

April 5, 2013 § 2 Comments

einstein

Credit: Cikgu Brian

As part of the learning experience of a MOOC, students not only watch lectures and read articles or texts. They also have the chance to virtually engage with other students, teachers, and monitors of the course in a forum. There, they can ask questions, send opinions and post other additional materials they might find interesting. Although MOOCs do not present a learning formula, within its interface, the forum is the first option for interactivity. Indeed, courses developers are looking for other interactive possibilities such as social networks and wikipages to enable connectivism, but forums always have been popular among e-learners and online communities, even before web 2.0. Along with e-mail, it was one of the first digital tools to be used in courses.

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Evaluation and motivation

March 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

How students are evaluated in a MOOC? This question is always raised when we start to talk about Massive Open Online Courses. The concept of providing free open courses is amazing, but MOOCs’ credibility still depends on how students are assessed and will successfully complete the course. And indeed, good courses are not only made by excellent professors, but a team of great scholars also helps the course (and the University) to become prestigious. Elite schools still have their diplomas highly recognized by the labour market and academics. Therefore, institutions encounter a challenge when developing a MOOC: how does the quality of the course can be guaranteed, and at the same time, the institution can provide a diploma for thousands of pupils, who have  a wide range of different ages and backgrounds.

the Raven

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