Anecdotal analysis of how a MOOC targeting younger learners (2nd–8th graders) succeeded in getting 50% of the students to complete the 5 week program.
“Brain Chase innovates on the uninspiring MOOC format through great storytelling–a mix of compelling online and offline experiences and the ability to customize the program for individual kids. But the program also has some things going for it based on the latest MOOC research: kids are encouraged to be active, not passive, learners and the program is structured to encourage regular, spaced activity. Both of these phenomenon are correlated with higher MOOC completion rates in the HarvardX and MITx study. Paying for the program may also increase commitment and completion. “
Sherry Turkle, professor of social studies of science and technology at MIT, argues against a technologically integrated classroom and cautions against the widespread use of digital technologies in the service of learning, asserting that these technologies lead to unimaginative (if efficient) multitasking. Turkle argues that “unitasking,” focusing on one topic at a time, allows for a deep engagement with curriculum content and peers, which is necessary to a quality education. In addition to degrading the in-class experience by constant checking of mobile devices, Turkle argues, outside of class students use tools like GChat and Google Docs to complete their assignments, avoiding in-person collaboration. Further, they miss the “serendipity” of spontaneous ideas that occur when people talk in person (but not digitally?).
“[A tool like GChat] doesn’t leave room for what I want my students to experience when they collaborate. I call it intellectual serendipity. It may happen when someone tells a story or a joke. Or when someone daydreams and comes back with an idea that goes in a new direction. None of this is necessarily efficient. But so many of our best ideas are born this way, in conversations that take a turn.”
In August, UPCEA and OLC sent a letter about online learning to the leadership of the House Committee on Education and Workforce as well as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in response to recent public statements which appear to question the integrity of online education.
As early as 2010, a Department of Education meta-analysis of research into the relative effectiveness of online and classroom-based learning put to rest any remaining question that what goes on in a classroom is inherently superior to what can be accomplished online; indeed, that study, and others that have followed, indicate that online learning is often superior in achieving measurable learner outcomes2. To question the inherent “integrity” and “quality” of online learning in 2015 is simply unsupported by overwhelming evidence.
In this special feature ‘hub’ of articles on the management of post-secondary online programs, you’ll find over 20 categories of topics that cover a wide range of issues and implications for developing online programs in higher education.