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.

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Students’ thoughts and expectations

April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Credit: Karen Horton

After six weeks of lectures about  Communication Science and one week to complete the UvA MOOC exam, students posted many discussions and opinions about the course in the forum and also social networks. Did they enjoy it? Did the course meet expectations? And why did they decide to do the MOOC in the first place? Of course, as this MOOC had more than five thousands enrollments, this is not very easy to evaluate. However, a qualitative approach may introduce some thoughts on the subject, and interesting stories as well.

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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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All-powerful audience

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

wordle moocLast week’s UvA MOOC lecture was  about the linear effect-oriented approach of communication, mainly developed by the media in the 20th century. Between the First World War and the popularization of television, many theories were developed to somehow explain how the “all-powerful media” constructs different realities and influences its audience. It was very interesting, for example, to see the classic example of radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” being deconstructed by theorists Paul Lazarsfeld and Herta Herzog. What used to be an example of the “bullet theory” effect (immediate, precise and short term), had to be reviewed: what was behind the panic? Media’s own exaggeration and a mix of decontextualized understandings? Those might be still current characteristics of the present media, but it’s easy to see that online, audience power has increased and became appreciated.

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The course begins!

February 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

After joining the kickoff for the first UvA MOOC, it was impossible not to be curious. How many classes would we have? Where do students come from? What kind of doubts participants will have? Will they join the forum, create a Facebook group or even a Meet Up? Where will I look for additional information about the topic?

Credit: UvA MOOC

Credit: UvA MOOC

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