What do course reviews suggest about what it takes to create a compelling online learning experience for students? CourseTalk, a “Yelp for MOOCs” company founded in 2012, has tallied more than 74,000 user ratings for over 7,500 courses from 46 providers to get a glimpse of what students are saying.
CourseTalk has made an analysis (PDF) of all reviewed courses in its catalog to uncover characteristics shared by top-rated courses, characteristics shared by low-rated courses, and other insights into online learning.
Interesting is their overview of refraining reviews:
Their overal findings are:
Reviews are predominantly positive
Reviewers complete courses
Reviewers who drop courses still give nearly 4 stars
Users are willing to pay for good courses
Classes with more reviews receive higher ratings
Ratings are not affected by course workload
A majority of CourseTalk users have experience in the subject they’re studying
Their conclusions are:
Providers should embrace reviews from unbiased, third-party sites as a way of promoting improved course selection and engagement.
They should not be afraid to charge for quality content.
Providers should make courses experiences clear, easy to navigate, fun, interactive, supportive and flexible.
They should focus on short course modules, but not hesitate to challenge students with heavier workloads where appropriate.
EdX is also using CourseTalk as review system. Reviews of TU Delft's courses are available here.
The last couple of days I attended the EDEN15 conference in Barcelona. During a couple of sessions people mentioned alternative acronyms to MOOCs, such as mMOOC, cMOOC, sMOOC, xMOOC. Can we please stop with all these acronyms! It is a MOOC or an Online Course.
The starting point of designing an Online Course are the learning objectives you want students to reach. With those you will start designing the learning activities and assessment. In the design process you have to be aware of the context of the course, such as the subject, lecturers, duration, expected audience, language and more.
The result should be a high-quality online course that will help students reach their learning goals.
One of the specific feature of a MOOC is the massiveness. This means that in the design proces you will keep in mind that the course can be run with 500 students, but also with 50,000 students without extra teaching effort. This can also be useful for some campus courses, although the number will be a little bit smaller.
For me Open means free access (via internet) to the course AND the right (under some condition) to retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute the course materials. Unfortunately most moocs are limit to the first part.
US vs European MOOCs
In the European MOOC world there is a tendency to be very negative about the US MOOCs. I think that you underestimate the MOOCs on the US platforms and overestimate the European MOOCs. My experience is that on both sides of the pond there are really good MOOCs and really bad MOOCs. The quality of a MOOCs is not depending on the platform, but on the lecturers and the course development team.
The people that are affilitiated to the open universities express this negative thought quiet often. According yesterday's keynote speaker Alan Tait this has to do with that the introduction of MOOCs was very painful for the open universities: "Major MOOC platforms not from open universities". I think he has a very valid point here, open universities have always been in the lead in innovation in technology enhanced learing and now the 'conventional universities' are taking over. That must hurt!
This week I'm attending the annual conference of EDEN: European Distance and E-leearning Network. TU Delft has recently joined the network of more than 200 institutional members and more than 1200 members in the Network of Academics and Professionals (NAP).
This years conference will be in Barcelona and is hosted by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. The conference has some interesting keynotes speakers. Some of the speakers I'm looking forward too:
Xavier Prats Monné DG for Education and Culture of the European Commission. It is always good to hear the priorities of the EC.
Jim Groom Recently resigned his job at the University of Mary Washington to continue his work on Reclaim Hosting.
Audrey Watters the best EdTech journalist and interesting voice in the field op open education.
Off course we are not just consuming, but we are presenting too. Together with my collegaes Nelson Jorge and Sofia Dopper we have written a paper about defining a pedagogical model: the TU Delft Online Learning Experience. We will present this on Thursday morning in session D5 (room Salon 4) at 11.30-13.00.
On Wednesday the MOOCs4all project, in which we are participating is organising a workshop about low-cost production of moocs. Janine Kiers is organising this workshop with the others of the project. This session C3 is Wednesday afternoon at 16.30-18.00 in Salon 5.
TU Delft is a strong advocate for open education. So when we started with MOOCs on EdX.org, we published all the course materials with an open license. After the course is done, we publish the content also on our OpenCourseWare website.
Last year during the Open Education Week, I organised an Edx hackathon for our students. The winners of the hackathon were the guys of FeedbackFruits:
FeedbackFruits is a TU Delft startup that created an online study community that encourages students to participate in lectures and share study material to facilitate the core of education: opening up young minds to the wonders of science and helping students become specialists in the things they love.
FeedbackFruits received the award at the EdX conference in Delft in June last year. On stage I also requested EdX to include this plugin into the platform and they agreed. Unfortunately it took quiet some time to get the plugin included, but last Thursday it finally happened.
The plugin that was created allows course teams to set a Creative Commons license for the course and per item. For instruction, see the manual page.
Below are two screenshots to show what it looks like.
This plugin is the first step in implementing Creative Commons into the platform. Off course we have a wish list for improvements:
SURF has published a report about the Grand Challenges Learning Analytics & Open & Online Education, unfortunately the report is in Dutch. This report describes the possibilities of Learning Analytics in the field of Open and Online Education and what are the biggest challenges. Per challenges the 6 experts did a literature review and decided on what are the questions that have to be answered, are there national or international examples and what needs more research.
The six experts that contributed to this report are:
Alan Berg, Program Manager Learning Analytics UvA, University of Amsterdam, Community Officer Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative
Dr. Maartje van den Bogaard, educational advisor and researcher University of Leiden
Dr. Hendrik Drachsler, Chairing Research Group on Learning Analytics, Leading FP7 project Learning Analytics Community Exchange (LACEproject.eu)
Drs. Renée Filius, programme manager Elevate University of Utrecht Medical Centre.
Drs. Jocelyn Manderveld, project manager SURFnet
Dr.ir. Robert Schuwer, lector OER, Fontys Hogeschool ICT
The five challenges these experts identified are:
What possiblities does Learning Analytics offer as accelerator of (design of) learning?
What are the requirements of a dashboard for instructors?
What can learning analytics contribute to the searchability of open educational resources?
What are the privacy and ethical issues in using learning analytics in open and online education?
What kind of infrastructure is needed to start with learning analytics in open and online education within your institution?
The report gives a good overview of the current state of learning analytics and gives good insight in the challenges we face. Off course you can debate if these challenges are really the biggest challenges. One of the questions I got was why a dashboard for instructors and not for learners?
Yesterday it was officially announced that the Open University NL and University of Utrecht received the 5 year grant for open and online education. The project is called SOONER: The Structuration of Open Online Education in the Netherlands. Officially the project starts in September and is running until August 2020.
The summary of the project:
The SOONER project focuses on fundamental research about open online education (OOE) in the Netherlands. Open online education is viewed as a strategic activity of an educational institution with systemic implications for the organization. Based on proven approaches for program evaluations from the health sciences, the project will enable systematic and long-term research on open online education from a macro-, meso- and micro-perspective. In addition, this project combines fundamental and accompanying research. SOONER will be organized via three PhD-projects on 1) self-regulated learning skill acquisition In the context of OOE, 2) motivation and intentions as key to drop-out in OOE and last but not least 3) scalable support solutions for OOE Including learning analytics. These projects will be framed by a Post-Doc project that focuses on the structural and organizational embedding of OOE. All projects will start from standardized measurement instruments or will adapt those for the specific context of OOE.
All projects will access several sources for their data collection: MOOCs offered by the partner institutions, open courses offered by the OpenUpEd partners, courses offered by the SURF projects and institutions participating in the SURF projects. The SOONER project is connected to the MOOCKnowledge project, a European cross-provider standardized survey about MOOCs and the SCORE2020 project, a European project focusing on support needs of educational institutions for OOE. Data from these European projects will be compared to Dutch OOE initiatives and benchmarking options will be explored. All results of the project will be shared via open licenses.
The project is lead by Professor Marco Kalz of the Welten Institute of the OUNL.
Different levels of research
The project is doing research on 4 different levels:
The micro-level of OOE is related to the individual characteristics of participants of OOE. The two research question they are focusing on are the level of self-regulated learning (SRL) required for OOE and the development of SRL skill development and other part is focusing on the motivation and intention in regards to drop-outs.
The meso-level of OOE is related to the course level. Questions of educational design and support options are the most important research aspects here.
The macro-level is related to the organisational embedding of OOE. On this level, questions like strategic goals, organizational guidelines and values are important.
In addition these three levels are embedded into a national context and environmental variables like funding and structural support of OOE.
I'm looking forward to work with these researchers and to the outcomes of the project.
It has been a while that I have gave you an update about our MOOC activities. A lot of information I shared with the people that attended the Action Lab at OEGlobal, but that session wasn't recorded. So here is the update.
Since we began in 2013 we have developed 18 MOOCs. Some MOOC have run for multiple times. In total we already have more than 415,000 enrolments and have issued more than 12,000 certificates (1062 ID-verified).
The first MOOCs we run were aiming at Bachelor students. This year we added some MOOCs that will attract other audiences. For example, the course Topology of Condensed Matter is much more directed toward Master and PhD students with a background in physics. We didn't expect a lot of learners, but still got more than 3,000. 50% of the learners has an advanced degree (Master or higher). Interesting is that the average age is lower than normal (27 instead of 29 in most courses). Another course is the pre-university calculus course that focuses on high school students. 40% of the learners has a high school diploma as highest diploma. This course will start in July and the goal is to freshen up their math before they start at college or university in September. Already more than 10k learners signed up.
This summer we are offering two of our courses as self-paced courses starting on June 2nd. This means that there is almost now involvement of the teacher, but we do have student assistants moderating the forums. The courses we are offering are:
By default we offer English transcript. For the course Data Analysis to the MAX() we also translated the transcripts to Dutch, Hindi and Mandarin.
Because we also publish our MOOC content with an open license on ocw.tudelft.nl, the course Water Treatment is also translated to Japanese.
ï¿½We are strong on openness, but also have to earn some money to cover our costs. Key questions are:
Is it possible to sublicense a MOOC and uphold our Open Policy?
Is our Open Policy threatened when we sublicense our MOOCs?ï¿½
Most sublicensing models are based on the licensing of content, but that doesn't work with our open license model. My colleague Martijn presented our solution at the OEGlobal Conference. I think we found a good solution that combines our open policy with sublicensing. The main slide is below:
Basically it means that our course materials are all openly-licensed, but you need a license with us if you want our Educational Services and Teacher Effort.
Based on this model, we got a sublicensing deal with Arabic MOOC platform EdRaak and there is interest from other organisations.
Online Learning Experiences
As part of our continues activities to enhance the quality of our courses we developed the online learning experience. The Online Learning Experience (OLE) is a student-centred, online learning model that holds eight interrelated principles, which define TU Delftï¿½s online courses.
In the presentation below the model is explained:
At the EDEN Conference in Barcelona (Friday, parallel session H1) Nelson Jorge, Sofia Dopper and I will present the model in more detail, based on the paper we have written about it.
There are more developments, but those I can't publish yet. So watch this space for more updates.
Just like last year, a selection of papers of the Open Education Global Conference are published in the ICDE Journal Open Praxis. Open Praxis is a peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal focusing on research and innovation in open, distance and flexible education. Open Praxis is published by ICDE and is under the editorship of Dr. Inés Gil-Jaurena at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain.
According to the editors the selected papers presented in this issue are a good example of some trends they currently find in the field of open education:
The increasing number of research and showcases with a focus on openness, providing a rigorous basis for getting recommendations, lessons learned, highlights.
The relevance of open educational practices, a step beyond open educational resources and open courses.
The core position of open education within the transformation of higher education, and the relevance of institutional strategies which include "open" to do so.
Educause has written an interesting report about the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE). The report explored the gaps between current learning management tools and a digital learning environment that could meet the changing needs of higher education. According to the report the principal functional domains are:
Interoperability Interoperability is the linchpin of the NGDLE. The ability to integrate tools and exchange content and learning data enables everything else.
Personalization Personalization is the most important user-facing functional domain of the NGDLE.
Analytics, Advising, and Learning Assessment The analysis of all forms of learning data — resulting in actionable information — is a vital component of the NGDLE and must include support for new learning assessment approaches, especially in the area of competency - based education.
Collaboration The NGDLE must support collabor ation at multiple levels and make it easy to move between private and public digital spaces.
Accessibility and Universal Design Efforts to realize the NGDLE should include working toward ensuring that all learners and instructors are able to participate, with access to conten t and the ability to create accessible learning artifacts. We should strive to address issues of accessibility from the start , based on a universal design approach.
The auteurs say that these features can not be found in a single system. They see it as an ecosystem:
At the built layer, it will be a confederation of IT systems , including content repositories, analytics engines, and a wide variety of applications and digital services.
One ke y to making such a confederation work will be full adherence to standards for interoperability, as well as for data and content exchange.
Instead of uniformity and centrality, it will need to support personalization as an option at all levels of the instit ution. The NGDLE will not be exactly the same for any two learners, instructors, or institutions.
For users, it will be a cloud-like space to aggregate and connect content and functionality, similar to a smartphone, where users fashion their environments d irectly with self - selected apps.
If the paradigm for the NGDLE is a digital confederation of components, the model for the NGDLE architecture may be the mash-up. A mash - up is a web page or application that “uses content from more than one source to create a single new service displayed in a single graphical interface.” Hence it uses a heterogeneity of components to produce a homogeneity of function. The confederation - based NGDLE will be mashed up at both the individual and the institutional levels, as oppo sed to consortia forming to create open enterprise applications.
The report very much aligns with our thinking about our Collaborative Learning Environment, the name we gave our NGDLE.