TU Delft participating in EdX High School Initiative

TU Delft participating in EdX High School Initiative

Last week, edX announced their new high school initiative: 26 MOOCs specifically geared to the needs and interests of high school students around the world. As edX CEO Anant Agarwal wrote in the announcement:

Studies show that nearly 60 percent of first-year U.S. college students are unprepared for postsecondary studies. This readiness gap between college eligibility and preparedness is costly not only to students, but also to families and institutions.

Our new initiative will address this severe gap and help alleviate these costly disparities, while also meeting the needs of edX learners who have expressed interest in additional entry-level college course offerings – 90 percent of edX learners according to a 2013 survey.

As I’ve written about in the past, these courses could also provide a path to life-long continuous education, where students come into college after having taken their first-year subjects through MOOCs or other AP* courses, study on campus for two years, then enter the workforce to gain real-world skills, taking MOOCs, community college courses or other online courses as needed throughout their career.

Covering subject areas that range from mathematics to science, English and history, and even college advising and AP onramps, edX high school MOOCs will provide students within the U.S. and around the world the opportunity to pursue challenging, advanced coursework. Currently, 22 high school courses are open for registration, and all 26 will launch within a few months.

TU Delft is contributing the course Pre-University Calculus. Delft is the only European university that is particpating in this initiative. The enrollment of the course has started and you can enroll here.

Special edition on didactics of Open and Online Education

CoverSURF and the Open Education Special Interest Group published a special report  on the didactics of open and online education. SURF organised a ‘pressure cook’ session on the didactics of open and online education on 24 June 2014. The aim of this meeting was to quickly get to the bottom of the key issues, solutions, opportunities and requirements surrounding this current topic with a number of experts and pioneers, focusing on: what are the do’s & don’ts? My colleague Sofia Dopper participated in this session.

This special edition contains three articles and three intermezzos. To start us off, Marjolein van Trigt describes the key outcomes of the ‘pressure cook’ session. In addition to this, the report features an in-depth article by Peter Sloep (Open Universiteit) on this theme. Hanneke Duisterwinkel (Eindhoven University of Technology), Pierre Gorissen (Fontys University of Applied Sciences) and Robert Schuwer (Fontys University of Applied Sciences/Open Universiteit) describe how experiences with this theme differ in higher professional education and academic education. The intermezzos bring together the background literature, present a framework for setting up high- quality online education, and feature a number of pitches from the ‘pressure cook’ session.

Download report

PhD Positions for research MOOCs and Online Education

An important part of our newly established Delft Extension School  is Research and Innovation. Under the leadership of our Dean and Director of Education we have a couple of existing faculty that are involved in this, but we are also hiring new people. The first two job openings are now available.

 

Researcher Learning Analytics

The research to be conducted will largely be data-driven, using and improving technologies developed within various areas of computer science including web data management, data
analytics and user modeling. It will be inspired by the big data challenges that MOOCs offer. As a researcher you will be hosted, supported, and supervised by the Web Information Systems
Group within the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. The group has made significant research contributions in user modeling and data analytics within the last few years and will provide the researcher with a large support network and extensive research experience. Additionally, the position is also part of the Open & Online Education team and associated with the Delft Extension School, enabling direct access to education practitioners.

We are looking for a researcher (PhD or Postdoc level),

Deadline: 15 October 2014. More information is available here.

Automatic Assessment and Feedback for Online Assignments

The research in this position will focus on methods and techniques for the design and implementation of automatic assessment of and feedback on assignments in online courses. An assessment should reflect a student’s understanding of the course material, feedback should provide the student with detailed explanations of an assessment, and tutoring should help a student improve that understanding. This requires a thorough analysis of the student’s work. In traditional education environments, this analysis is carried out directly by instructors who can apply the amazing pattern matching and cognitive faculties of the human brain. However, this approach does not scale to the numbers of students of MOOCs, and is already challenged by large regular courses at universities. Automating assessment, feedback, and tutoring requires that we formalize the ‘assessment function’ that is applied by instructors.

We are looking for a PhD student.

Deadline: 15 November 2014. More information is available here.

New Directions for the LMS

Educause just release a new edition of the 7 Things you should know. This one is about the new directions for the LMS. The abstract:

Most of today’s learning management systems were developed in an era when virtually all of higher education was organized around courses and credit hours. Changes in pedagogy, new models of learning, and new opportunities made possible by technology have outpaced developments in LMSs. In response, LMSs are beginning to evolve toward being platforms on which a college or university can build a learning ecosystem. By being learner focused, future LMSs are more likely to meet the needs of institutions and students and to accommodate the new structures of higher education, including developments such as competency-based education, prior-learning assessment, badging, and others.

One of the things is the name. Currently we have started a project to select a replacement for our existing system. We called the project Collaboration & Learning Environment (CLE). This name better reflects what we expect in our new system than the traditional names such as CMS, LMS, and VLE.

The changing requirements at TU Delft are based on our activities to offer online education in the same system as campus and blended courses.

 

Seminar over MOOC-platforms

Op 8 oktober organiseert SURF een seminar over welke platforms je voor MOOCs kan gebruiken. Namens de TU Delft zal Janine Kiers ingaan op het gebruik van EdX:

In deze bijeenkomst komen platforms aan de orde die gebruikt kunnen worden voor het aanbieden van massive open online courses. Op welk platform zou je MOOC’s kunnen ontsluiten die je vanuit je eigen onderwijsinstelling wilt aanbieden? En wat kun je doen als je een MOOC van de betreffende platforms wilt integreren in je eigen onderwijs?

Het seminar is gratis, maar je moet je wel aanmelden via de website.

OER Beyond Voluntarism

At the 2014 Knewton Symposium David Wiley made the bold claim that "in the near future, 80 percent of textbooks would be replaced by OER content." This statement led to some interesting discussion about the Open Education Resources ecosystem.

It started with the article of Jose Ferreira. He argues that publishers have nothing to worry about, because OER has low production values, no instructional design and is not enterprise grade.  Offcourse David Wiley had to respond and did a very good job at it. According to David OER can beat publishers on both price and learning outcomes.

The next one in line was Michael Feldstein. In his respond he focused on the business model. According to Michael neither the OER advocates nor the textbook publishers have a working economic model right now:

"The textbook publishers were very successful for many years but have grown unsustainable cost structures which they can no longer prop up through appeals to high production values and enterprise support. But the OER advocates have not yet cracked the sales and marketing nut or proven out revenue models that enable them to do what is necessary to drive adoption at scale."

His conclusion to the question whether OER can "break the textbook industry", his answer is "it depends".

The last article of this discussion is of Brain Jacobs. He compares the development of the Open Source Software (OSS) Movement with OER. Nowadays, most of the OSS development is by commercial companies (like Red Hat, Google, Samsung), but it started with a foundation of voluntarism in the hacker community. He argues that the OER 'hackers' community does not have the depth and breadth of its OSS counterpart.

I agree with that. For most instructors, the textbook is a convenient package, without which the task of managing a class would be that much more laborious. They don't care about the costs of the book. Students are the victims of this. More and more students (or their parents) have problems with paying for all their textbooks.

Brain suggests a solution to get faculty to contribute to the OER ecosystem:

"A better way forward is to compensate the stakeholders -- faculty, copyright holders, and technologists, principally -- for their contributions to the OER ecosystem. This can be done by charging students nominally for the OER courses they take or as a modest institutional materials fee. When there are no longer meaningful costs associated with the underlying content, it becomes possible to compensate faculty for the extra work while radically reducing costs to students."

I agree with Brain's assessment of the different nature of voluntarism of OSS and OER. With TU Delft OpenCourseWare we have done compensated teachers from the start in 2007. The faculty that contribute their course content get a financial compensation for their extra work.

Altogether this is an interesting discussion and will help move the OER movement towards a bright future. I'm looking forward to discuss this at the OpenEd Conference in November.

Enrollments have started for OpenMoocs

Enrollments have started for OpenMoocs

In June I wrote about the OpenMOOCs of the Open Education Consortium. The enrollment of the first two MOOCs has started on edx.org:

  • Energy-The Technology You Must Know in the 21st Century
    A comprehensive introduction to existing and emerging energy technologies and their applications. (Taught in Mandarin)
    Starting 20 October 2014. You can enroll here.

  • The Biology of Water and Health - Part 1
    A uniquely interdisciplinary approach to critical water and water-related health challenges across the globe.
    Starting 4 November 2014. You can enroll here.

Leren centraal stellen in MOOCs #LWMOOCs

In de tweede week van Augustus nam ik deel aan de Learning with MOOCs workshop op de campus van MIT. Deze workshop is georganiseerd door Stanford en MIT en werd gesponsord door de Hewlett Foundation.

Het doel van de workshop was om alle verschillende soorten mensen die zich met MOOCs bezig houden bij elkaar te krijgen. Dus onderzoekers, beleidsmakers,  docenten en ondersteuners. Dat is goed gelukt, ondanks het wat vreemde uitnodigingsbeleid. De workshop was alleen open voor de mensen die iets ingestuurd hadden voor de Call for Papers. Dit stond dan nog los ervan of je paper was geaccepteerd. Totaal waren er zo’n 250 mensen, waarvan de meerderheid uit de VS.

Heel duidelijk had de organisatie gekozen voor een aantal keynotes die de kennisachterstand bij veel MOOC-ers kon vergroten op het gebied van (online) onderwijs, open onderwijs, onderzoek op het gebied van onderwijs. Hoewel sommige keynotes erg veel tekstuele slides hadden, waren het uitstekend gekozen sprekers.

Er waren voor mij vijf punten die ik uit deze workshop heb gehaald.

Ten eerste dat we de technologie van MOOCs nu redelijk goed op orde hebben en het nu tijd is om alle aandacht te richten op te begrijpen hoe we het best de lerenden kunnen ondersteunen in deze omgevingen. Hierbij moeten we vooral gebruik maken van alle beschikbare onderwijsonderzoeken die al vele jaren beschikbaar zijn. Een van de sprekers zei dit als volgt: “There is no L in MOOC, but there should be”. Belangrijk punt hierbij is dat het niet gaat om het vervangen van de docent, maar hoe we beter gebruik van technologie kunnen maken.

Het tweede punt is dat we van de MOOCs een volledige open cirkel moeten maken: open content, open platform, open data en open models voor analyseren van data. EdX is op dit punt goed op weg. Binnenkort wordt het nog eenvoudiger om een MOOC (en haar content) te voorzien van een open licentie. Deze uitbreiding is ontwikkeld door YES!Delft start-up Feedback Fruits.

Het derde punt is dat om te komen tot een topkwaliteit MOOC je een multi-disciplinair team nodig hebt met inhoudsdeskundige, onderwijskundigen, toetsexperts, multimediaspecialisten en onderzoekers.

Het vierde punt is dat we het gebied van onderzoek de vraag moeten omdraaien. Dus niet welke vragen kunnen we beantwoorden met deze data, maar welke data hebben wij nodig om onze vragen te beantwoorden. Of zoals Justin Reich van HarvardX zei van “Fishing in the Exhaust” naar  “Design Research in the Core”.  Hij gebruikt hierbij ook deze quote om de huidige situatie aan te geven: “We are lost, but we are making great time”.

Het vijfde punt is dat wij als TU Delft een goede keuze hebben gemaakt met het opzetten van de Extension School en de integratie van het ontwikkelen van MOOCs, Online & Blended onderwijs. Hierbij maken wij ook gebruik multidisciplaire teams voor de support en zitten de onderzoekers dicht  hierop.

Tijdens de workshop was er ook voldoende gelegenheid om de banden met andere instellingen aan te halen en kennis en expertise uit te wisselen.

Alle presentaties van de workshop staan (binenkort) online op de website http://www.moocworkshop.org/information/program/. Daarnaast vind je veel informatie op de twitterhashtag #LWMOOCs.

Dit artikel verscheen eerder op Scienceguide.

Andere artikelen over deze conferentie:

Learning with MOOCs workshop

This week I'm attending the Learning with MOOCs: A practitioner's workshop in Cambridge (MA, USA). The website describes this workshop as:

This workshop plans to bring together the educators, technologists, researchers, learning scientists, entrepreneurs, and funders of MOOCs to share their innovations, discuss the impact on education and to answer questions such as: How to best support students to learn in an online environment? How can MOOCs be successfully integrated with the traditional classroom experience? For which students and in what contexts are these courses most effective? What can we learn from the rich data streams generated by these platforms? How do we structure the learning activities to produce data streams that better support research?

Because not everyone can attend the conference, the conference is (partly) live streamed via MIT Webcast (time zone is US East Coast). Interesting is that it brings people together from all the different platforms.

For me it is also a good opportunity to catch up with the people at EdX and meet some friends from MIT. And we have some nice summer weather :-)

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement

This year edX gave researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) data on the second-by-second viewing habits of more than 100,000 learners perusing more than 6.9 million video sessions.

In a paper published this spring, the CSAIL team outlined some key findings on what online learners want from videos. These include:

  • Brevity (viewers generally tune out after six minutes)
  • Informality, with professors seated at a desk, not standing behind a podium
  • Lively visuals rather than static PowerPoint slides
  • Fast talkers (professors seen as the most engaging spoke at 254 words per minute)
  • More pauses, so viewers can soak in complex diagrams
  • Web-friendly lessons (existing videos broken into shorter chunks are less effective than ones crafted for online audiences)

The researcher created their own tool based on these research finding: LectureScape. LectureScape uses data on viewing behavior to present MOOC videos in a way that’s more intuitive, dynamic, and effective:

  • A timeline shows which parts other users have most frequently watched
  • An interactive transcript lets users enter keywords to find relevant segments
  • A mechanism automatically creates word clouds and summaries of individual sections, as well as the whole presentation
  • Content from popular slides automatically appears in the following slide, as users will likely want to refer back to that information

Interesting is that some of the features in LectureScape are similar to the tool of Feedback Fruits.

Download paper (PDF)

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