The Impact of Open Source
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is a web-based course offered at no additional cost to large populations of online students. “Although MOOCs don’t always offer academic credits, they provide education that may enable certification, employment or further studies” (Rouse, 2013, para 2).
I reviewed an open course called Learning to Teach Online, offered on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/course/ltto). The course was created by professors at The University of New South Wales. Before entering the course, Coursera offered very detailed information about the course and its instructors, the length of the course and the number of hours a week a student should expect to work, the course format, recommended background, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and the course syllabus. This information was very important for students to make the determination if this course would be truly for them. After registering for the course, which was only required 3 steps, I was then asked to take a brief survey that asked me questions about myself and why I decided to take the class. The survey also consisted of a Honor Code promise that you will have to agree to, such as academic integrity and ethical standards. The survey is a way for the instructors to get to know their students. According to Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education, “Knowing the students in a class provides the instructor with an understanding of how to best approach instruction to ensure an optimal learning experience for all” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 219).
The course is very well organized. The navigation panel consisted of the 8 modules for each week of class; a course resources section that links you to the class resources at the library and the video list; a “my learning” section that consisted of sub-sections for my goals, my recommendations, my assignments, and discussion forms; a community section that consisted of sub-sections like meet the instructors and Meetup; and a general section for announcements, twitter feeds, getting started, FAQs, and technical issues forum. One interesting feature of the course is that it offers a section about the course design. I have never taken an online course that provided explanation for the way the was course designed, an explanation for the learning outcomes, and explanations for the activities and assignments chosen for the modules. The instructors also gives you an overview of the website and an explanation of each link on the site. The contribution of this section makes me believe that the course was carefully pre-planned and designed for distance learning.
The course also followed the fundamentals of teaching online, as outlined in Teaching and Learning at a Distance. The course was organized and the requirements were made clear to the students through the getting started link; the students are constantly kept informed through the Announcements section; the course learning outcomes are defined; the students’ knowledge is assessed throughout the course; the instructor integrated the power of the web into the course and extended the course readings beyond the text by having a link to an outside library, suggested readings, recommendations, and utilizing Meetup; and the students are trained on the use of the course through the course design section, the FAQs section, and the technical issues forum.
Another great feature of the course is that each activity for each module promotes self-reflection, knowledge, and strategy. In fact, the overview of each activity explains how each portion of activity will support self-reflection, knowledge, and strategy of what was learned in the module.
MOOCs are a great way for providing higher education courses and training to those not capable of receiving it the tradition way. Open courses “permit educators and a global network of learners to participate in research, learning, and sense-making around a given topic” (Cormier & Siemens, 2010, p. 6). Students are able to add to a vast learning community and contribute to the growth of knowledge worldwide.
Cormier, D., & Siemens, G. (2010). The Open Course: Through the Open Door–Open Courses as Research, Learning, and Engagement. Educause Review, 45(4), 30.
Rouse, M. (2013). Massive open online course (mooc). Retrieved from http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/massively-open-online-course-MOOC
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.