I am now in the development phase of an LMS-based instructional design project. As I adapt my content for online-delivery, I find myself referencing the MOOC, or Massive Online Open Course, model. However, MOOCs have several documented deficiencies; one author even goes so far as to describe MOOCs such as those offered on popular online learning sites as being “innocent of any pedagogical input” (Armstrong, 2012). While clearly hyperbole, some MOOCs do rely on teaching methods that “are based on very old and outdated behaviorist pedagogy, relying primarily on information transmission, computer-marked assignments and peer assessment” (Bates, 2012). Unfortunately, research has shown that video-driven courses that consist of little more than recordings of lectures are not effective in achieving learning objectives; results, in fact, may be worse than those achieved in face-to-face instruction (Bowen & Lack, 2012).
In attempting to avoid a similar assessment of my own course, I am choosing instead to follow the recommendations put forth by Hollands & Tirthali (2014) to reference a connectivist MOOC model as inspiration for LMS-based development. Characteristics of this type of course include: (1) exploration of topic area in a workshop or studio environment; (2) creation of unique products/artifacts by students; (3) participation in discussion forums and other social networking is key; (4) the facilitator aggregates, reviews, summarizes, and reflects on activity in a daily/weekly newsletter; and (5) the course uses a unique platform and collaboration tools. As such, learning in my course will be demonstrated through the creation of unique student products that demonstrate mastery of weekly learning objectives, and a studio-type environment will be encouraged through public presentation and peer review of these products. Additionally, mandatory weekly discussion forums will serve as a laboratory in which students will collectively construct an understanding of how learned technical skills can be applied in their classrooms, which is a key objective of the course itself. Finally, I hope to utilize development capabilities such as HTML to customize the course as much as possible, adding features such as a more intuitive user interface and engaging multimedia content.
I believe this approach will mitigate some of the deficiencies of the MOOC model, and online learning in general, while taking advantage of format specific collaborative capabilities. Application of this approach, including adoption of the 5 characteristics outlined above, will likely result in achievement of learning objectives for course participants.
Armstrong, L. (2012). Coursera and MITx: Sustaining or disruptive? Retrieved from http://www.changinghighereducation.com/2012/08/coursera-.html
Bates, T. (2012). What’s right and wrong about coursera-style MOOCs? Retrieved from https://www.tonybates.ca/2012/08/05/whats-right-and-whats-wrong-about-coursera-style-moocs/
Bowen, W. & Lack, K. (2012, May 18). Current status of research on online learning in postsecondary education. Retrieved from http://www.sr.ithaka.org/wp-content/mig/reports/ithaka-sr-online-learning-postsecondary-education-may2012.pdf
Hollands, F. & Tirthali, D. (2014). MOOCs: Expectations and reality. Center for Benefits-Cost Studies of Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED547237.pdf