Success & Failure of MOOCs – Learning from a recent course from CourseEra

A recent course on “Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application” at Coursera was taken off in a weeks’ time from its launch, apparently because of some implementation problems. It was disappointing especially because the course itself was on planning & application of online education.

In one of my earlier posts I have highlighted the success factors for designing a robust learning environment. Lets look at this case closely and make an attempt to analyse the success and failure of such programs.

I think the most important aspect of success of such programs is designing the pedagogy to create an engaging model for self paced learning. Such engagements can be created in many ways, first, content and the delivery style, which has been very aptly demonstrated by Khan Academy among others.

Second the engagements should be made seamless by appropriate use of technology, like the user experience, design, group engagements etc. Discussions among participation forms a key part of the learning process and the first problem users faced was “How to join a group”, which highlights a flaw in user experience.

Third the pedagogical model or steps in the learning process, I felt the model should have been more challenging. Sharing video lectures and having a quiz after you watch all the videos is suddenly becoming an old school thought. Appropriate pedagogy model like the ones used by Venture Program was much more engaging, like learning videos supplemented by activity based  learning (with a combination of individual and group activities) for all the weeks, pointers to resources outside the learning environment and using practical examples.

Lastly, simple things like highlighting course progress in a simple graphical way, easy to understand clear instructions for assignments and pre-defined deadlines will go a long way in improving the quality.

Personal disappointment for me: I met wonderful people from around the globe and started engaging with them on serious discussions about Online Education. Some of them have been educators for over 15 years and was eagerly looking forward to learn from there experience, however the abrupt end of this course didn’t allow many of us to move our conversations to other mediums like mail, social media.

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2 thoughts on “Success & Failure of MOOCs – Learning from a recent course from CourseEra

  1. I agree that the sudden demise of this course was very disappointing, because I was really engaging with it. The points made here are well made. Clearly MOOCs themselves are undergoing rapid development as best practice evolves! This would have been the course to explore these developments!

    The inmcorporation of a groups structure into the Coursera platform would be a fitting legacy. One hopes that the course will re-launch shortly though!

  2. I was also disappointed with the course being suspended.. I believe the group approach was very interesting but they didn’t expect more than 40K students, and c’mon… organizing 40k people using one spreadsheet that was too complicated.

    Hopefully the relaunche will be sooner than we thought.

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