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  1. #1
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    Default What's it like being on the receiving end of a MOOC?

    Y'all know what MOOC stands for?

    Massive Open Online Course.

    But you can broaden the discussion, too, to include all these new-fangled on-line classes folks are taking to earn college degrees.

    Being old and having had lots of my college education done in small seminars, or in discussion sections attached to big-a$$ lectures, I truly don't get it.

    Do you think the youngins and the old folks like me are getting the same kind of education?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  2. #2
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    I am not a fan. I have students whom I tutor who are supposedly in "normal" classes yet the profs have elected to make them online. They are tough courses too. Physiology, pathophys, nursing pharmacology--at a major university!!! As a (not yet or ever) parent, I would be PISSED if I found out my kid was in a class I was paying for that was essentially online when I was told it was a normal class.

    These are not good courses to teach online. More money for me as a tutor of course as no one gets it without some interaction. But good gravy. No, not a fan.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  3. #3
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    Default

    Speaking from experience, I think they are a steaming pile of crap created by the education-for-profit folks and now the traditional educational outlets have latched onto them. Not that regular classes are all that great either, but I truly think that all the options on the table have gotten to the point where the happenings are more about numbers and printing degrees than actual education or learning something useful.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have,
    at this moment, been thrown up from below!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Default

    I teach a couple of fully online courses (not the same "massive" type, but rather traditional courses adapted with the help of my university's distance learning department for teaching on the web). These are small writing seminars, and one is a collaboration and online documentation course, and for these particular courses, with some reservations, they work ok, although I'd still rather be teaching them f2f. They are a reasonable compromise driven by our lack of space and student demand (the students WANT these courses online, and our student surveys tend to go something like "I hate online courses; please offer more of them...").

    I'm heavily involved in distance learning pedagogy (wrote my master's thesis AND my dissertation on aspects of it involving tech comm) and am still ambivalent. It's NOT going away, so I will make the best opportunity for my students that I can, but...


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    In college, I took an online course P/F to satisfy a gen ed requirement that I knew would absolutely not be relevant to my future (something to do with music theory.) The standard of work I put forth in relation to what I would have had to do in a classroom setting was, well, pretty dire. I got an A in the class. In some ways, I liked it because I was able to work more at my own pace than would have been permissible in a typical classroom; I catch onto things quickly and hate the drudgery of working slowly at someone else's speed. But I know that I would have focused more on the material had I had someone in the front of the class. Hard to say if I'd have gotten more out of the class had I paid more attention, considering I would have been doing the bare minimum in class, too... (22 credit hours, two jobs, team captain and president of riding team, own horse. When I could P/F something, I did it!)
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  6. #6
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    I completed my masters through an online/distance learning program through the University of Cincinnati. One class was on campus due to scheduling issues, but everything else was online. I found it met my expectations for the difficulty you would find in post-graduate work. Actually, all the online courses were more difficult than the class I had to take on-campus.

    At the same time, I know not all programs (even those within the same college or university) are created equal. I was fortunate to "attend" a good program. It was perfect for someone (like myself) who was already out teaching in the schools, but needed to pursue that next level. My advice to others is always research the various programs and make sure they offer what you want/need.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I finished up my bachelor's degree with a few online courses. I was looking forward to them, but didn't enjoy them at all.

    At that time I was very into open source software development. People who rarely meet in person creating amazing software, all done through mailing lists, wikis, etc.

    I expected _interaction_ with my classmates, but there was none. It wasn't part of the grade, so nobody did much more than watch the lectures and take the exams. I attempted to start several threads to talk about concepts, but no one answered. There was no discussion. Occasionally someone would ask for clarification on something in one of the lectures, and the instructor would answer.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick



  8. #8
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    No experience with MOOCs here, but we DO have an online MA and PhD in my program....and it's pretty amazing. We use various chat programs, skype, etc. along with wikis and blogs and such for a lot of synchronous and asynchronous discussion.

    There is a need. We have something like six openings each year in our PhD program, and we get at least 75 applications. The folks we end up admitting are so dang impressive I have to play catch up to teach them. We've had students from Germany, NZ, Qatar, etc. They DO have to take an intensive two week seminar f2f every spring--and it's here they get the professional development, usability, IRB, etc. from 8-8 every day two weeks solid. They also give talks that we critique, listen to us talk about our research, and so forth.

    I'm teaching the research methods class this semester BOTH f2f and online, and I think they're getting a very similar experience. Since I have less time online, I tend to leave out the anecdotes about the profession--that's the biggest difference I've noticed. They read and discuss the same stuff, do the same assignments, even read over/critique each others' writing.

    We worked very hard to make sure our online degrees would be equivalent to the f2f degrees, and I think we're doing a good job.
    --Becky in TX
    Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
    She who throws dirt is losing ground.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    Speaking from experience, I think they are a steaming pile of crap created by the education-for-profit folks and now the traditional educational outlets have latched onto them. Not that regular classes are all that great either, but I truly think that all the options on the table have gotten to the point where the happenings are more about numbers and printing degrees than actual education or learning something useful.
    "Steaming pile of crap." Thanks for your vote. I'd vote this way, too, but worried that I was speaking from ignorance and bias. I'm glad a real, live participant confirmed. Now wipe your shoes, Lex.

    Quote Originally Posted by thatmoody View Post
    I teach.... small writing seminars, and one is a collaboration and online documentation course, and for these particular courses, with some reservations, they work ok, although I'd still rather be teaching them f2f.
    I'm so glad you posted because Holy Mother of God, a writing seminar is about the last kind of course I'd think you could teach (well) on-line.

    Having taught these, face-to-face, I see them as extremely labor intensive and individualized. I can't see how you would make anyone write better with a one-size-fits-all approach. And the same thing for this kind of seminar that has readings and discussions. For many, it's the first humanities seminar they will take in college. It's where they learn *how* to do that kind of class.

    So.... really? Writing seminars on-line?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  10. #10
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    My experience has been somewhere in between the two extremes. I took a developmental psych class online and two anatomy and physiology hybrid classes that met one evening a week for a lab and lecture. The psych was an easy "A", but I did learn some stuff and I loved the hybrid. Could study when I could and the instructor posted lists of topics to explore, then discussed in the lecture and I didn't have to drive an hour round trip to campus two or three times a week, just once.

    I also know that online wouldn't have worked for me as a 20 year old, didn't have the discipline then. I was a 40 something nursing student this time around and more motivated and had more life experience to bring to the table.



  11. #11
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    Default

    Did my second MA partially online, and it totally depended on the instructor. The ones who had experience in actual physical classrooms tended to be better than the ones who it seemed did primarily online courses.

    My undergrad college, though, is doing a lot of work in the digital humanities and exploring how online learning/interaction can work in a traditional college setting.



  12. #12
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    Default

    How do you do discussion or office hours in the online medium?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    How do you do discussion or office hours in the online medium?
    Skype, forums, and email.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  14. #14
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    Default

    These are not FY writing seminars - I'm teaching either Master's level or at least Senior/Junior level technical communication. And I'm careful not to design it as "one size fits all" - we do a lot of online discussions, and students bring samples of their writing to the discussion boards for peer review and my feedback. So in that way they actually work a lot like a face to face course, especially since we're dealing with the written medium in the course content as well. The web provides a rich source of sample material, as well. We work on tech writing documents, etc. in a collaborative format using google docs, google sites, and google + for meetings (that way we can see each other in real time). That's how I often host office hours, too.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    Skype, forums, and email.
    Does it feel the same as "live"? Mano a mano with your prof?

    I do remember being shy about going to office hours as an undergrad. Worth it in the end, so I'm not sure how equivalent the techno-mediated experience would be.

    Oh, and having been on the answering end of those e-mails, man, it takes some time to do it right. You often have to make sure you have understood the question and all the supporting background stuff that the student has understood (or misunderstood) in order to answer the question well. Same thing for an answer. The short one doesn't always do the job of teaching the concept fully.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  16. #16
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    Gotcha.

    The most recent batch of students I taught in a seminar-- writing intensive history of science topic for a deluge of senior pre-med/vet/dentistry undergrads was in part an exercise in teaching these folks *how* to participate in a humanities seminar in the first place.

    it was sad to me that no one had given them this experience before, either. So many things were taught via the group's interaction. Among other things, many of them got to see what it was like to challenge authority-- whether my interpretation of something or standing ideas they had learned passively in their lecture/exam-driven science classes. Oh, and the skill of "close reading" wasn't in abounds in these deprived munchkins, either.

    The tough part is that if you explore the careers of great scientists, you know that they had these "humanities" skills in spades.
    Last edited by mvp; Nov. 25, 2012 at 03:31 PM.
    The armchair saddler
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  17. #17
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    I've done both recently and had good and bad experiences with f2f and online. They are very different experiences. But getting a bad Prof makes for a pretty piss poor learning experience too.

    IME some things just don't work very well online and some work fine. I'd rather do required, general ed. stuff online and have the deeper stuff f2f. However I did do some serious upper level work entirely online and ended up doing really well - it's just more stressful to me since there isn't much context to many of the assignments. I would have preferred to at least be able to see video lectures, which none of these courses had. At least that way you know the priorities of the instructor and have a main theme - not just hundreds of pages of reading every week from a text book (which you start to think the instructor hasn't read).

    I did just finish an advanced course (post Bach. cert) on line - and while it was extremely challenging (and frustrating) it did do exactly what it claimed. If gave an intense survey in 14 weeks.

    They are here to stay though. There are too many people who want to learn and not enough money to educate them all. I will say the ones who can hang in there and struggle through it learn plenty. I don't think I could have done it in my twenty's though and I know many of my classmates were in that age group. I guess they will be prepared to be tossed into the deep end in the job market! Not many people willing to train anyone for anything these days.

    Also, there is much to be said for making classes available to people no matter where they are. This is a godsend for many. It also helps those who just can't get into the classes they need in the time-frame they need - to graduate, to hold their job while in school, or have to commute long distances.

    So yes - I hate them, I love their availability, and I really hope they continue to improve!

    SCFarm
    The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.

    www.southern-cross-farm.com



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Does it feel the same as "live"? Mano a mano with your prof?

    I do remember being shy about going to office hours as an undergrad. Worth it in the end, so I'm not sure how equivalent the techno-mediated experience would be.

    Oh, and having been on the answering end of those e-mails, man, it takes some time to do it right. You often have to make sure you have understood the question and all the supporting background stuff that the student has understood (or misunderstood) in order to answer the question well. Same thing for an answer. The short one doesn't always do the job of teaching the concept fully.
    I couldn't say, because I never availed myself of the options.

    I do know that as a TA for an in-person class, I hated e-mailed questions for the reason you mentioned. Half the time the problem was more a faulty understanding of a concept from three weeks ago than a problem with the current material, and while a real-time or short-interval asynchronous communication method (Skype or IM) probably could have helped to sort out the issue, a chain of 30 e-mails is not an efficient use of anyone's time. A five-second "let's talk about this before class tomorrow" worked better.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    short-interval asynchronous communication method (Skype or IM) probably could have helped to sort out the issue, a chain of 30 e-mails is not an efficient use of anyone's time.

    Preach it, sister!

    And in many cases, it helped to have everyone in section see a question asked, answered or even debated. That wasn't just in terms of saving time, but getting students who didn't know they were confused or had a disagreement to figure that out. Sometimes, discussions developed a really novel idea as well. Priceless.
    The armchair saddler
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