Modern education is currently at a crossroads. Steadily marching down one road are MOOCs—the massive online courses that are changing the way teachers teach and the way learners learn, both online and in the classroom. Charging down the other is the idea of learner-centered instruction, which has been steadily gaining popularity in training and development departments. On the surface, it seems like these two forces are in opposition to each other—MOOCs involve expanding virtual classrooms to hold literally thousands of people, while learner-centered instruction involves shrinking the classroom to focus on the needs of individuals.
But these two trends are not nearly so far apart as you might think. Although one of the biggest criticisms of MOOCs is that they offer a one-size-fits-all approach to a many-sided problem, the digital learning environment (and the technology-enabled learning tools that support it) is flexible enough to allow for personalized, learner-centered approaches to instruction. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 20, 2014 No Comments
As we saw in the previous post, real data on MOOCs is just starting to become available. Using the results of studies, as well as the combined experiences of instructors and learners, we can start to define the factors that make MOOCs successful. The first article took a global approach, focusing on technology, support, and other aspects of the digital learning environment. This article takes a more microscopic approach, exploring MOOCs on the level of individual courses.
There are many different types of MOOCs out there and many different ways to participate in them. This is one of the great advantages of the format—it is flexible so learners can adapt the courses to meet their individual needs (e.g., determining their own objectives, choosing what content to engage with, deciding which social learning tools to use, etc.). But more formal environments, like corporate training, require clearly stated and achievable objectives that are directly relevant to the job requirements. Even when using third-party MOOCs or MOOC elements, trainers may need to develop the desired learning objectives and communicate them to learners. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 13, 2014 No Comments
MOOCs (at least the most popular types) have been around for about a year and a half now. They have been tried in different formats and with different audiences, many educators have written about their experiences of teaching MOOCs, and universities have started to release data on their courses. Now that we have a better understanding of this new instructional format, we can start to look at what makes a MOOC successful and what doesn’t work, so we can begin to outline some best practices for creating massive digital learning environments.
Over a series of two articles, we’ll explore the qualities of good MOOCs, especially as they related to workforce and corporate learning. In this first article, we’ll look at some overarching qualities of good online education, and in the next we’ll examine some more course-specific factors of MOOC success.
Knowledge of target audience
Although true MOOCs are open for anyone to take, it’s still essential to keep the target audience in mind when designing the courses. Udacity learned this lesson the (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 6, 2014 No Comments
If you’ve been paying attention to the MOOC news over the past year or so, you’ve undoubtedly heard at least one (and probably all) of these proclamations. But even as experts continue to debate the place of MOOCs in our educational systems, there is one fact that is impossible to overlook: MOOCs are very, very popular. In October, Coursera reached “the triple milestone”: the platform how hosts more than 100 institutions offering more than 500 courses to more than 5 million students.
Why are these courses, which generally do not confer any official credit, so popular? And how should organizations view this trend? (more…)