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How to MOOC? – A pedagogical guideline for practitioners

How to MOOC? – A pedagogical guideline for practitioners

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Published by Martin
Publication at 10th International Scientific Conference "eLearning and Software for Education" Bucharest, April 24 - 25, 2014
Publication at 10th International Scientific Conference "eLearning and Software for Education" Bucharest, April 24 - 25, 2014

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Published by: Martin on Apr 29, 2014
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11/02/2014

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Lackner, E., Kopp, M., Ebner, M. (2014) How to MOOC? – A pedagogical guideline for practitioners. Roceanu, I. (ed.). Proceedings of the 10th International Scientific Conference "eLearning and Software for Education" Bucharest, April 24 - 25, 2014. Publisher: Editura Universitatii Nationale de Aparare "Carol I”
How to MOOC? – A pedagogical guideline for practitioners
Elke Lackner, Michael Kopp
 Academy of New Media and Knowledge TransferUniversity of Graz, Liebiggasse 9/2, A-8010 Graz elke.lackner@uni-graz.at, michael.kopp@uni-graz.at
Martin Ebner
Social Learning, Computer and Information Services,Graz University of Technology, Steyrergasse 30, A-8010 Graz, martin.ebner@tugraz.at
 Abstract 
: Massive Open Online Courses, shortly MOOCs, are a trending phenomenon in online education. Neither distance education nor online courses are new, but especially in the field of technology enhanced learning, MOOCs have been gathering enormous attention by the public. Thus,  following the main idea of bringing education to a broad range of people, two universities in Graz developed an xMOOC platform for the German speaking area, mostly addressing people in Austria.  Before the first courses started the authors reflected on how such a MOOC should be carried out and which key factors (didactical, technical and administrative) have to be considered. This research study strongly concentrates on developing a checklist for practitioners who would like to do an xMOOC in the future by examining different xMOOCs and reflecting first experiences gathered through daily work on MOOCs.  It can be concluded that doing a Massive Open Online Course is much more challenging as maybe expected at first sight. Nevertheless the proposed checklist will help to overcome first barriers and  provide solid steps towards one’s first online course.
 Keywords:
 MOOC; didactics; Higher Education; Information System
I.
 
INTRODUCTION
In our today’s digital world education is changing with a pace never reached in the history of mankind. After the introduction of the World Wide Web in the early 1990’s web-based training  became popular and some years later Learning Management Systems were introduced in educational institutions. Since 2005 the so called Web 2.0 [1] has been the fundament for the next generation learning, called e-learning 2.0 [2]. Teachers as well as students use weblogs [3], wikis [4], podcasts [5] as well as social media platforms [6] for their daily teaching and learning processes. Then the invention of the Apple iPhone as well as similar follow-up devices with different mobile operating systems (Android) or enhanced hardware facilities (Tablets) together with a high mobile bandwidth  brought mobile learning to our minds [7] as well as in practice all over the world [8]. Learning became more and more ubiquitous [9]. Nowadays everybody at least in middle Europe is able to learn everywhere and also without time limitations. Finally the digital world brought us an important debate about the access of learning content and how we are able to deal with it as lecturers and learners, summarized by the initiatives of Open Educational Resources [10]. Putting all these developments together, all the possibilities and experiences in online learning gathered over the years as well as new technological solutions it seems just consequent to offer online courses for free to a broad range of learners. Therefore George Siemens started in 2008 the first so
 
called Massive Open Online Course, shortly MOOC [11], and attracted more than thousand learners to learn with him about new trends and possibilities when learning with the Internet. These first MOOCs  based on the idea to connect people and offer them a platform for exchange and discussion. In consequence these courses are called cMOOCs. Just a couple of years later very famous universities like Stanford, Harvard or MIT attracted thousands of learners all over the world with their xMOOCs [12]. A typical xMOOC consists of very structured content (divided into 6 to 10 units), video lectures, enhanced learning material and self-assessment. However, MOOCs are one of the most current trends in technology enhanced education and only little research has been carried out addressing this upcoming phenomenon so far. The University of Graz and Graz University of Technology have a long tradition in doing online courses. Following the latest developments as described above or also as mentioned in the  NMC Horizon Report [13] a project on developing an xMOOC platform has been started in 2013. Due to the fact that providing an information system does not automatically lead to a perfect (massive) online course further research is necessary to guide lecturers through their content development as well as their online lecturing. For example previous research [14] pointed out the lack of interaction during such courses, which leads to dissatisfaction on the learners’ side [15]. Very high dropout rates [16] [17] gave us a hint that the course content differs from learners’ expectations. It’s not only a good technological background and an interesting content that count for the learners’ online learning experience, but also the methodological approach concerning interaction, communication and an appropriate form of assessment. However, to overcome this issue research has been done addressing following questions: Which main issues should be taken into account by a lecturer before planning / starting an xMOOC? Which structure should an xMOOC follow? What do learners expect from an xMOOC? Which kind of assessment is appropriate? What are the key issues concerning resources and media as well as communication and interaction?
II.
 
METHODOLOGY
In this publication we concentrate our research work on a deep literature study followed by a structural analysis. Together with our first practical experiences first recommendations concerning didactics and methodology are carried out.
2.1
 
xMOOCs – the situation right now
 As mentioned in the introduction, Massive Open Online Courses are one of the biggest trends of the last year especially in the academic world, attracting thousands of learners to enhance their knowledge on a mostly voluntary basis [18]. According to different literature studies [19] [20] a typical xMOOC consists of following elements:
 
course structure with learning targets,
 
video lectures (recordings or new products),
 
additional learning content according to the video lectures
 
asynchronous communication possibilities (e.g. discussion forums)
 
self-assessment according to the video lectures
 
certificates for successful completion of the course
 
information system that provides all these contents Most of the xMOOXs are offered over a longer period of time, normally between 6 to 12 weeks [21]. The learning content is structured into smaller parts (units) across these weeks and the workload for each week is outlined with a fixed start and end date. The biggest part of the content is usually provided as video lectures [22]. Additionally to the learning content there are defined learning outcomes (objectives) which must be reached within the time frame.
 
A further essential part of an xMOOC is the self-assessment which is provided at least for each thematic unit. The most common possibilities are multiple-choice questions sometimes even within the videos or the upload of short essays. Courses related to computer science also ask for  programming code. More or less all assessments as a whole are the basis for an automated check, evaluation and grading due to the huge numbers of learners [23]. Due to the fact that learning is a strongly social process that happens through conversation [24] and interaction between students and teachers as well as students and students discussion forums are offered to guarantee and foster communication. Nevertheless the missing interaction between such a mass of people is one of the major problems of xMOOCs pointed out by [14] [15]. The most popular  platforms like Udactiy and edX now offer the organization of physical MeetUps between students to overcome the lack of interaction and communication [13] or encourage peer learning.
2.2
 
Research Study
 In our research study we investigated a couple of already existing xMOOCs and took a careful look at the provided elements. Together with the literature review as mentioned above and the experiences of learners an overview has been carried out. Due to the fact that also a MOOC-Platform is currently developed by the research group, other existing platforms have intensively been studied. A short analyses at Udacity
1
, Coursera
2
, edX
3
, iversity
4
 and Open HPI
5
 has been done. All elements have been brought together and structured to provide forthcoming MOOC experts, administrators, developers as well as teachers a comprehensive checklist and framework for their daily work with (Massive) Open Online Courses.
III.
 
RESULTS
The results of our research study are integrated into a simple checklist, where all necessities doing a MOOC are listed. The second part of the chapter describes important parts of the list in a more detailed way.
3.1
 
Checklist
The following checklist for the design and development of a MOOC is the result of the research study. All collected issues are allocated into six main categories: core requirements, structure,  participant requirements, assignments, media design, communication and resources.
3.2
 
Elements of the checklist
1
 https://www.udacity.com/ [last visited February 2014]
2
 https://www.coursera.org [last visited February 2014]
3
 https://www.edx.org/ [last visited February 2014]
4
 https://iversity.org/ [last visited February 2014]
5
 https://openhpi.de [last visited February 2014]
Do a MOOC - Checklist
 
Cat.
 
Issue
 
1. Core requirements 1.1 Attend a MOOC yourself 1.2 Consider the open character of a MOOC 1.3 Select a topic for a large community instead of a specific audience 1.4 Select the appropriate course language 1.5 Plan for a heterogeneous target group 1.6 Select an appropriate platform 1.7 Test the platform and its features 1.8 Consider the use of tools outside the platform 1.9 Provide a tutorial for MOOC-Newbies 1.10 Provide a tutorial about how to work in a forum, a chat etc.

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