Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday MOOC News

This week a few pieces of MOOC news.

Wesleyan wants to change the world
Wesleyan president, Micheal Roth, announced a new course offered through Coursera called How to Change the World. Its a six week course that covers a range of topics (the environment, poverty, gender, etc.) and has a recommended workload of 3-5 hours. Given the breadth of the topics and the amount of time that will be taken to go over them, I'm not expecting much world changing from the course. Mashable might think so, but then again they sponsored the event this course was announced at.

Europe's MOOCs
The Gray Lady did a piece on Europe's MOOCs. What most interests me about the European market is the dynamic between the course provider's country of origin's culture, language, and local-specific issues, and how they relate to the wider market. However this may just be an American's fascination of countries that are smaller than most US states.

New UK MOOC provider, Future Learn
Staying on the other side of the pond, there is a new UK MOOC provider, Future Learn. From their course listings it seems that they are focused on humanities (Corpus linguistics, Muslims in Britain), science and related issues (Sustainability, society and you, Cancer in the 21st century - the genomic revolution), The discovery of the Higgs boson, and the almost required technology courses (Begin programming: build your first mobile game, Web science: how the web is changing the world). A good set of initial courses, I'm excited to see what they offer next.

Newish site for corporate elearning
eLearning Mind is a new company that provides corporate instructional design services, but has offered some of their best practices. While not groundbreaking, it is nice to see a semi-fluid exchange of ideas in that world.


I've fallen off my current MOOCs, but am looking forward to Foundations of Virtual Instruction, Common Core in Action: Math Formative Assessment, and Big Data in Education all through Coursera. I may have to enrol in the signature track in at least one of the courses, just to make sure I finish it. The Moodle MOOC was interesting, but I found myself with a bit too much work this last month. I also found myself kind of annoyed with their badges. They offered only two, a basic 'you've posted something' and a completion. I was hoping for a "Helper - respond to 25 questions" or a "Reviewer - review 10 other student courses".

Monday MOOC News comes out every Monday (hopefully) and contains my thoughts on current MOOC news, and a brief summary of the MOOCs I am taking. Feel free to join the conversation.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday MOOC News

Not much MOOC news since last week's post, but I thought I'd point you in a few different directions; some analysis articles, people I listen to about this subject, and some fun stuff.

One blogger's analysis of another blogger's post, in another blog
Jimmy Daly over at EdTech Focus on Higher Education wrote a post about the recent MOOC for credit brewhaha, and mentions Johnathan Tapson's article at pandodaily and his application of the Gartner Hype Cycle to MOOCs. Tapson makes a number of good points defending MOOCs (the completion rate boogeyman being one) and gives plausible predictions as to the future of MOOCs, and Daly takes the Gartner Hype Cycle a bit further by adding a more detailed graph. Give Tapson's article a read, and Daly's a once over.

Stephen Downes
Stephen Downes is a Canadian education researcher at the National Research Council of Canada. His blog discusses education news, MOOCs, education technology, and plenty of other good stuff. In the face of the hype machine of new technologies and new ways of educating, Stephen's skepticism is refreshing. His experience in the field, and his background in logic, makes his analysis of MOOC news reasoned and thoughtful. He can pick apart press releases and tell you what will work, and what won't.

Dan Meyer
While not being solely about MOOCs, Dan Meyer's blog dy/dan takes a look at math education, education in general, and education technology. His TED talk and some of his posts are constructive take-downs of certain players in education, and what they should really focus on. The work he has done on Three-Act Math Problems has been great, and has helped me reexamine how I present authentic questions to students.

Every Day Carry
The Every Day Cary (EDC) subreddit is about the things we carry with us on a daily basis. People post pictures of their EDC and usually a short description of their work or their daily lives. There is an element of taking an 'inventory' here that appeals to me, but also an appreciation of the tools we carry and how these tools change us, as we change them.


My status hasn't really changed since last week. I have been participating in Teaching with Moodle: An Introduction more in the forums than in the actual work. I'm thinking I might wait to plunge head first into a Moodle MOOC, at least until they offer a course covering material I don't know, or more prominent credentials are offered. Still looking forward to Big Data in Education MOOC.
Monday MOOC News comes out every Monday (hopefully) and contains my thoughts on current MOOC news, and a brief summary of the MOOCs I am taking. Feel free to join the conversation.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Job Opportunity: Instructional Designer - Social Studies (Downtown Seattle)

Saw this ad and thought you all might be interested: Instructional Designer - Social Studies (Downtown Seattle). I know as much as the ad says, and am not affiliated with the poster. Good luck! via craigslist seattle | all jobs search "instructional design" at September 11, 2013 at 02:21PM

Is Coursera making money a good thing?

It looks like my favorite MOOC provider Coursera is making (some) money. From their blog:
At Coursera, we want to help you get recognized for your achievements in online learning, whether it is earned in a degree program or in a single online course. For this reason, we launched Signature Track in January of this year, which gives students the opportunity to earn Verified Certificates in recognition of their hard work and successful completion of some of Coursera’s rigorous course offerings...
25,000 sign ups and $1 million in revenue, and in light of this, we’d like to share more about this program and the achievements of the students.
For those that don't know, signature track does include a 'Verified Certificate' but also some premium services. These services are similar to those freemium services, or free-to-play games that give you special services after you pay a bit of money, individualized support, quicker response time from staff/faculty/TAs, etc. Initially Coursera was looking at a few different monetization techniques, including recruitment fees from sponsored companies in their Career Services, this kind of freemium service, and possibly their store (kidding).

I'm having mixed feelings about this announcement. I'm glad that this sort of credentialing system/premium service is earning them money. It will further Coursera's mission, grow the company, and expand their course offerings. Great! On the other hand, in essence tuition is floating their boat. This is not the revolutionary pricing model I had expected from them, and I'm worried that they will fall into the trap traditional colleges and universities have fallen into; costs that grow faster than inflation. Granted, crowdsourcing these huge numbers of students will (and does) bend the cost curve, but if you're offering more and more traditional services (ala this freemium service) that cost curve will bend back. Sure, leveraging the base technology will be useful, but I don't believe it will do so enough to make a significant difference. At least not in ways radically different than traditional higher education institutions.

I hope they find other revenue models that don't rely on student payments, but take into account everyone who benefits from having an educated and trained workforce and population.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Monday MOOC News, on a Tuesday!

I've been planning to do a regular Monday MOOC News article for some time now, compiling my own experiences with MOOCs, and discussing some of the current news and trends. Yesterday I was busy with a few small projects, applying for teaching positions this fall, and there was a general lack of MOOC news. Today has been almost the complete opposite, so let's get into it.

EdX and Google get in bed together.
So it seems that EdX and Google are teaming up to launch sometime next year in the hopes of creating a platform for MOOCs. Individuals, businesses, educational institutions and others would be able to offer their own MOOCs through this platform, similar to having your videos hosted on YouTube. This seems confusing to me, doesn't Google have something like this in Course Builder? What does EdX have that Course Builder doesn't? Well, users for one. Course Builder really hasn't had wide-adoption, and with their university partners, EdX's standing in the field will give a sense of legitimacy to Google's MOOC platform offerings.

A new MOOC looks at badges.
A few groups have joined together to demonstrate the use of badges by putting together a MOOC on the subject. Mozilla (naturally), Blackboard, and a couple others are offering this MOOC, starting yesterday! First, thanks for the heads up guys. You may find your enrollment numbers go up if you give people fair warning. Second, awesome! With more MOOCs being offered having some kind of standardized accreditation, or credential to demonstrate competency is necessary to MOOCs continued success.

The Great MOOC Experiment
Gary S. May, Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, has a great article at Inside Higher Ed, talking about how MOOCs are in their experimental phase, and that we should give them time to mature. While I disagree with his statement "The prospect of MOOCs replacing the physical college campus for undergraduates is dubious at best.", everything else is fairly on point.

And from the young people acting like grumpy old people pile...
.. the Daily Tar Heel, the student news paper of UNC, has put out an editorial with the title "MOOCs will never replace traditional methods". You can read the article yourself, but I thought this passage was worth talking about "It also wouldn't be fair to the student in the physical classroom that has met the rigorous demands of lectures and in-class exams to be equated to a MOOC." These students seem to assume that the in-class, and the online environments are inherently different, and that one is more rigorous than the other. Their 'evidence' is that in-class lectures and exams are somehow more difficult than online. In my experience this comparison is flatly false, and that both types of environments are demanding in different ways. The amount of self-control, discipline, and perseverance that are needed for any kind of online course is far greater than that needed for face-to-face courses.


Looks like the Big Data in Education MOOC through Coursera has been put off until October 24th. I'm really looking forward to it, so hopefully this delay will make the course that much better.
  1. Teaching with Moodle: An Introduction - This course is focused on Moodle newcomers, but I signed up to get Mary Cooch's perspective on Moodle, and to help build my contact list with other Moodle users. I spent today answering questions in the questions and answers forum, and replying to other posts. Its always fun to hear how people use Moodle, and how they solve issues differently.
  2. Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education - I haven't been active in this course, but I am looking forward to taking a day and seeing what they have for andragogy, and any special things to watch out for in health care education.
  3. Foundations of Business Strategy - Another course I'm kind of half taking, but I may become more involved in it soon. Having just started my business I'm going to need to start thinking in business strategy terms more and more.

Monday MOOC News comes out every Monday (hopefully) and contains my thoughts on current MOOC news, and a brief summary of the MOOCs I am taking. Feel free to join the conversation.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My new company Academic Designs

I'm starting a company to formalize my freelance work, and to grow the services I offer. You can read more about it here Academic Designs.

My service offerings would include the following types of projects;
  • Developing the curriculum and courseware for a developmental mathematics program at a college or university.
  • Refine course objectives of an existing course.
  • Work with a school district or individual school to revamp their Grade 6-12 mathematics curriculum to align to the Common Core State Standards.
  • Consult on the creation of online courseware that aligns to the Quality Matters rubric in an unofficial capacity.
  • Moodle support, training, and workshops.
There are also plans for a few products that align to the Grades 6-12 CCSS mathematics standards, and small Moodle plug-ins.

I am looking to grow both my client base, and my contractor base. If you know of either, feel free to send them my information by copying and pasting the below:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Move to Portland, Or

As you may or may not know, I have moved to Portland, Oregon from Brooklyn, New York. My fiance and I have moved back to Oregon for a number of reasons; closer to family and friends, while we enjoyed the New York lifestyle it didn't fit us long term, and we would like to start a family here.

What this means for you is my posts should be more in-depth, more frequent, and the job leads may focus on institutions, companies, and start-ups based in the Pacific Northwest. With my job and project prospects looking a bit more distributed, I will have more time and more reasons to post here.

If you live in Portland, or in the surrounding areas, feel free to contact me to discuss the education technology trends of the area. I'm looking forward to getting to know the Portland market, its needs, and how I can help.