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The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

This is a written response to an article for my Master's Class.



MOOCs have been around for three years, marked by the release of a Stanford University class on Artificial Intelligence. Over 180,000 students signed up for the class, but did this really start a revolution in education? If you look at the 8 million students who signed up for MOOCs, there is evidence to the contrary. Research shows that only ½ of the students who signed up for the class, accessed or watched even one lecture video. The completion rate was only 4%, albeit that is 320,000 people who completed courses. However, most of the people who signed up, already had college degrees. This shows that the learning community has yet to accept MOOCs as an option.

Online learning in general, the author notes, has solved a problem of access to education. However, the problem with online courses, in general, is engagement. Research still has not determined whether or not online learning is more effective than classroom learning. The author notes such distractions as Netlfix being a click away. But can we reach the goal of affordable online education? The author notes that strides are being made to provide online students with mentorship, retention marketing, and new forms of learn-by-doing.

I really like the mentorship, as online learning can seem a bit streamlined and impersonal. By providing teacher praise and student specific constructive feedback, motivation levels in the student may increase. I also really like the idea of new forms of learn-by-doing. Online courses seem to expect that the student must be able to learn by watching videos, reading, and taking tests. In this day and age, if that was all a teacher was doing that teacher would be rejected by his peers and administrators. How can we make online courses more interactive The author suggests tools like Minecraft for education or Oculus. Those are both a good place to start. My favorite quote from this article is:

“The future of online learning isn’t about accessibility: it’s about taking what we already know works offline and combining it with what you can only do online to create the most engaging experience. “


I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. This is what online learning in our district should look like. It is great that teachers have started to post their lectures and model examples online. What needs to happen is teachers posting review games, interactives, online chats with students, and so on. Yes, Desmos would be an interactive tool! There needs to be more that students can interact with and respond to, rather than the multiple choice test at the end of a video.

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