Massive Open Online Courses aka MOOCs are now a major part of the education landscape. They are many in number, diverse in content areas, and generally vary in pedagogical approaches.
With the range and diversity, one has choices. So what is it about MOOCs that i like. Why am i enrolled in so many MOOCs (some of which i have no time for)? It had not occur to me what my main motivation for taking MOOCs is until i spoke to friend/educator. Well here it is:
Learning from other Educators
As an educator, i love MOOCs because they afford me the opportunity to observe how other, more experienced educators conduct their courses. Learning from the wide range of approaches used in different MOOCs is an opportunity for me to develop my own teaching style and extend the ways i learn personally and the way i think about how my students learn or could learn.
Many of the MOOCs use Videos as the primary source of information and Forums for interaction among participants. Further quizzes and other forms of assignments form the core of the assessment aspect of many MOOCs. This part of MOOCs is still traditional as some might suggest.
With the Videos, a number of interesting things are observed. Videos vary in length – it is possible to encounter videos as short as 5 minutes and in other cases as long as 20 or more minutes. Personally i prefer the shorter videos : 5-10 minutes. Further, some videos are part of the MOOC platforms and are developed specifically for the particular MOOC. On the other hand, Youtube videos form the core of other MOOCs.
I am not a fan of the online forums. They rack up in numbers too quickly and are not good enough for large classes (at least in their current configuration). It is almost impossible to sustain any one conversation given the range of threads on any one given topic and the range of threads in general.
MOOCs it would appear could vary in duration, ranging from 5-6 weeks and going up to 12-15 weeks. This is also an interesting observation i believe and one i believe not much thought has been given to just yet. I prefer the MOOCs that of a shorter duration. I am not sure why but it could be attention span or just plain boredom. While i teach courses that usually span 13-15 weeks, as a student (of MOOCs) i find MOOCs of similar span boring and drawn out.
So i wish to leave with a couple of questions:
1. Are MOOC participants in favor of shorter or longer videos or it doesn’t matter?
2. What is the extent of discussions taking place on Forums set up for MOOCs?
3. Does course duration matter to MOOC participants? If so, what is an optimal length? What is too short? What is too long?
I believe answers to these questions, and more, will be interesting to explore.