Monday, February 25, 2013

Study finds some groups fare worse than others in online courses | Inside Higher Ed

I was glad to see this item from Inside Higher Ed this morning, but it contained few surprises for me--students of  all groups fared quite equally in face-to-face and hybrid deliveries, but sectors fared noticeably worse in online courses.

Study finds some groups fare worse than others in online courses | Inside Higher Ed

The article calls for increased examination of how student services fit in and also questions quality of the course experience itself. It does give pause for Bill Gates; funding for Dev Ed MOOCs which would include a number of at-risk learning groups. As long-time online faculty member and a researcher in a study of online algebra, (Shorter-Term Success: Learner Characteristics, Preparedness, and Performance in Ten- and Fifteen-Week Online College Algebra. October 2006), here are some areas that continue to stand out:

1) Preparation for learning in an online environment: Have students been oriented to the environment and expectations like time-investment, participation, why some subjects are a better match for the delivery? For institutions that offer student orientations/academic success, learning in different environments be part of such a course. Students who have taken courses with different deliveries
could be great resources.

Can students view sample courses?

2) Preparation of those supporting students and faculty: Have administration, advising, and staff taken any online, graded learning? Have they seen what the online courses from their institutions look like? Is
there training for advisers? (Badrul Khan's e-learning model continues to provide a systems approach to e-learning additions:

3) Is there training and design support for faculty? Is there an budgetary investment in the design of courses?

5) What type of quality review is in place regarding design, access, and various opportunities for engagement. While Web2.0, simulations, and live-conferencing tools are more readily available, are courses still heavily dependent on text-based interaction and demonstrations of learning? (See opportunities provided by Churches' "Digital Taxonomy:

6) What type of academic and technical support are available for students and faculty?

7) Is there a communication protocol among the various college departments that serve online students? (A prime example is students with declared needs for accommodation.)

There is great deal of work yet to be done, and there is great opportunity to learn from colleagues and
institutions who are supporting rigor, persistence and learning success. The article concludes with the call for evaluation and improvement, not mere labeling of deliveries as good or bad. I agree. Which brings me back to Dev Ed MOOCs. Could one answer to improved content, support and persistence be  MOOC plus model--quality curriculum and activities at no cost, with added on-the-ground support, required or not?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gardner's Five Minds for the Future--Bridges Between Emotional IQ and Cognitive Science

Aa I consider the last few topics for a course this term, I am reminded of Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. As learners are reading about emotional resiliency for this week, I would recommend viewing minutes 18 - 22 (approximately).

Monday, February 4, 2013

MOOC Credentials You Can Earn and A Learner Review Site

Open Culture is such a fabulous source for free diversion and learning—films, interviews, reads. And courses.

In addition to the 650 free courses listed there, on Friday they shared a list of 200 more courses known as as MOOCS, with information about types of credentials offered as part of the learning experience:

Free Courses Credential Key
CC = Certificate of Completion

SA  = Statement of Accomplishment

CM = Certificate of Mastery

C-VA = Certificate, with Varied Levels of Accomplishment

NI – No Information About Certificate Available

NC = No Certificate

Also helpful was the list of course that have start dates, and those that don’t. So the list can be viewed 
by month, with ongoing enrollments to the “evergreen” courses appearing at the bottom. While these completion credentials are not college credits, such credentials may offer a bridge for those evaluating courses for the assignment of college credit.

After looking at the Open Culture list, I went off in search of MOOC review sites and found Platform, number of reviews, ratings, and individual remarks about the course experience are included. In testing the site, I took a title on statistics from the Open Culture list and popped it into the search window of coursetalk—here are the results for this course to date: I also looked at one on business operations from the business category of courstalk; this one had 73 very-satisfied reviewers:

In looking at ratings in the review site, we see the value of the courses for learners in the workplace as well as learners who might have a more academic reason for enrolling in the courses.