Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Year of the MOOC

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been around for a few years as collaborative techie learning events, but this is the year everyone wants in. Elite universities are partnering with Coursera at a furious pace. It now offers courses from 33 of the biggest names in postsecondary education, including Princeton, Brown, Columbia and Duke. In September, Google unleashed a MOOC-building online tool, and Stanford unveiled Class2Go with two courses.

Ray Schroeder, director of the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois, Springfield, says three things matter most in online learning: quality of material covered, engagement of the teacher and interaction among students. The first doesn’t seem to be an issue — most professors come from elite campuses, and so far most MOOCs are in technical subjects like computer science and math, with straightforward content. But providing instructor connection and feedback, including student interactions, is trickier.

“What’s frustrating in a MOOC is the instructor is not as available because there are tens of thousands of others in the class,” Dr. Schroeder says. How do you make the massive feel intimate?

Schroeder was featured by the New York Times on  November 4, 2012.

Read the article online