Tuesday, 23 April 2013

H817 Activity 14: Comparing MOOCs - Change MOOC vs Udacity Offerings

.As part of my work for the MOOCs Understanding badge (Open Education MOOC) I am doing this blog post discussing two MOOCs - Change MOOC and offerings from Udacity. This was the original question posed to the MOOC participants. "Compare either DS106  or the Change MOOC  with offerings from Udacity  or Coursera. Write a blog post comparing the courses with regards to: technology, pedagogy,    general approach and philosophy."

In this post I am discussing the two different MOOCs Change MOOC and offerings from Udacity.

Change MOOC.
This MOOC was facilitated by  MOOC Pioneers: Dave Cormier, George Siemens and Stephen Downes and the course ran from September 2011 - May 2012. The MOOC  introduced participants to the major contributions made to the instructional technology field by researchers.
Technology: This MOOC used a number of technological tools. Course participants were encouraged to have their blogs, join Google groups for discussions, use del.icio.us for social bookmarking. Second Life, RSS Readers, UStream were other tools used. Elluminate was used to deliver online seminars and  course resources were provided using gRSShopper.The course encouraged participants to use technologies for sharing "you can use any other service on the internet – Flickr, Second Life, Yahoo Groups, Facebook, YouTube, anything!".
Pedagogy and general approach: In this MOOC, facilitators encouraged connectivist learning. The course description says "the learning in the course results from the activities you undertake, and will be different for each person. In addition, this course is not conducted in a single place or environment. It is distributed across the web. We will provide some facilities. But we expect your activities to take place all over the internet. We will ask you to visit other people's web pages, and even to create some of your own." Essentially this connectivist learning is about aggregating, remixing, re-purposing, and feeding forward. Though it is possible to participate on your own in this MOOC (that is without sharing your work ) it was strongly encouraged to share ones work.
Philosophy: In my view the philosophy in this style of learning is connectivist learning and connectivism as a philosophy where it is believed that "the starting point for learning occurs when knowledge is actuated through the process of a learner connecting to and feeding information into a learning community" (Kop & Hill 2008).

MOOC offerings from Udacity
When Stanford Professors Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig offered their Artificial Intelligence course online for free there were over 160,000 students from over 190 countries registered in the course. With the mission to "bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world", Udacity was (www.udacity.com) was launched in 2012.
Technology: Udacity courses mostly use video lectures, but they also consist of interactive activities, quizzes, and exercises. Many of the videos available on Udacity courses have subtitle facility in other languages (for example, Spanish, Chinese, French).
Pedagogy and general approach: Each course provide the titles for each topic and looks very structured. Assessments in the form of short quizzes or exercises are provided with each topic. Each course provides a final exam, which determines the grade of the participant.
Philosophy: Courses provided through Udacity are well structured and seem to be suited for individual learners. Though Udacity encourages forums and community it does not seem an essential part of the learning philosophy. Udacity facilitators and students with high score of 'Karma points' (www.udacity.com/faq) earn the right to moderate posts.

Rodriguez (2012) identifies two categories of MOOCs: connectivist MOOCs (c-MOOCs) and AI-Stanford like Courses. He associates courses similar to AI-Stanford predominantly with cognitive-behaviourist approaches and c-MOOCs with connectivist approaches.  AI-Stanford type courses, (similar to Udacity courses we discussed above) have a more individualist learning approach while c-MOOCs (like the Change MOOC we discussed above) have a more social approach to learning. Daniel (2012) discusses about cMOOCs and xMOOCs, which he claims are a bifurcation of MOOCs. In my view both Rodriguez (2012) and Daniel (2012) are similarly classifying MOOCs but using the two different labels for the same thing: “AI-Stanford like courses” and “xMOOCs”. Today the terms cMOOCs and xMOOCs have gained popularity to refer to connectivist MOOCs and more structured type of MOOCs (such as the ones provided by Udacity).

cMOOCs and xMOOCs seem to differ not only from the philosophy but also from their use of technology. While cMOOCs encourage the use of multiple spaces for learning, xMOOCs seem to be conducted having a single platform for learning. This may appeal to different groups of learners. For example, it may be easier for learners to participate in and around one platform if they can not spend much time on the course or are not comfortable with various technological tools. On the other hand for technology savy participants and challenge seekers the use of a variety of spaces may appeal.

MOOCs have high withdraw/ dropout rates (Koutropoulos, et al., 2012). But data on completion rates of MOOCs are not readily available. Jordan (2013) the highest completion rate achieved was 19.2% on ‘Functional Programming Principles in Scala’, a MOOC offered by Coursera in 2012 (Liyanagunawardena et al 2013). This shows that dealing with high withdrawal rates is a common issue for both cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

Many MOOCs provide a statement of accomplishment such as the badge awarded by Open Education MOOC - for which I am writing this blog post for. However, these do not carry formal credits. On the other hand, there are five courses offered by Udacity, which charges a fee to the participants for proctoring exams, that carry college credits recognized within the California State University (CSU) system and to most US colleges and universities.

cMOOCs generally use various learning spaces and technologies that facilitate social learning that forms the basis of connectivist learning. On the other hand, xMOOCs are contained in a specific platform and uses a more behaviourist approach to learning. Though cMOOCs and xMOOCs follow different philosophies, both have similar challenges (such as dropouts, recognition). Both types provide learning opportunities to anyone (who have access to the required technology and possess the digital literacies) that was not available few years ago. 

Daniel, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 3. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/jime/article/viewArticle/2012-18/html

Jordan, K. (2013, March 11, 2013). MOOC Completion Rates: The Data. Retrieved March 10, 2013 from http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html.

Kop, R. & Hill, A. (2008). Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past?, International Review in Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9:3.

Koutropoulos, A., Gallagher, M. S., Abajian, S. C., deWaard, I., Hogue, R. J., Keskin, N. Ö., & Rodriguez, C. O. (2012). Emotive Vocabulary in MOOCs: Context & Participant Retention, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from http://www.eurodl.org/?p=Special&sp=init2&article=507

Liyanagunawardena, T.R., Adams, A.A., & Williams, S.A. (2013). MOOCs: a Systematic Study of the Published Literature 2008-2012, International Review in Research in Open and Distance Learning (accepted for publication) 

Rodriguez, C. O. (2012). MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like Courses: Two Successful and Distinct Course Formats for Massive Open Online Courses, European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from http://www.eurodl.org/?p=Special&sp=init2&article=516

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