MOOCs and OCW: A Learning Ecosystem

The first MOOCs have produced abundant data about students and learning behaviors, and perhaps even more press coverage about what it all means for the future of education.

Take the oft-discussed low completion rates of most MOOCs. Christine Nasserghodsi’s recent piece in HuffPost Education highlights how, for many students, completing a course is really not the goal…and that should be just fine.

…[C]ompletion rates only tell part of the story. I asked several high school students who enrolled in MOOCs whether or not they earned certificates. Each and every one said they had not, and yet they did not classify themselves as having dropped out of the MOOC. They simply explained that it didn’t matter. They signed up for pre-exam preparation, curriculum enrichment, or out of a personal interest. Their goals did not involve earning a certificate. As Justin Reigh and Andrew Ho wrote in their 2014 Atlantic article, “The Tricky Task of Figuring Out What Makes a MOOC Successful,”

“Our data show that many who register for HarvardX courses are engaging substantially in courses without earning a certificate. In these courses, ‘dropping out’ is not a breach of expectations but the natural result of an open, free, and asynchronous registration process, where students get just as much as they wish out of a course and registering for a course does not imply a commitment to completing it.”

If learning about specific things on your own schedule is more important to you than completing courses, you’ve not alone. Indeed, Reigh and Ho suggests you are central to the future of learning:

…[O]ur research describes an emerging learning ecosystem, one where enrollment can be casual and nonbinding, learning happens asynchronously, and registrants come from all countries in the world, with diverse intentions and patterns of learning.

These qualities — casual and nonbinding, asychronous, global — describe the learning mission we’ve always had at MIT OpenCourseWare. Start by finding your topic or search among the thousands of always-available courses and resources on OCW. Dive in, explore, bookmark and return later, even download the materials for future use. All with no registration required.

Meanwhile, with more MOOCs being offered every month, chances get better all the time that you’ll also find an edX course to complement what you’ve found on OCW. Don’t be shy about registering, and simply use the bits that appeal to you. You’ll have lots of company!

Maryland school promotes digital learning with flipped classrooms, online independent study courses (Carroll County Times)

Liberty promotes digital learning with flipped classrooms, online independent study courses

ELDERSBURG — Taylor Jones is enjoying the new way she’s learning math.

Jones, a freshman, is part of a conceptual algebra class at Liberty High School that’s functioning under a flipped classroom model.

Students watch a lecture for homework and then work on practice problems and ask questions of their teacher the next day in class.

“I think it’s a lot easier,” she said.

Liberty High School has piloted the flipped classroom and OpenCourseWare independent study courses this school year as part of a larger transition to digital learning. Students in certain social studies, science and math classes throughout all grades and academic levels are currently taking part in the flipped classroom pilot.

Jared Wastler, assistant principal at Liberty High School, said the goal is to move the school away from a static educational environment by getting students and staff members more connected to technology.

“Last spring, we asked if we could pilot the flipped classroom model,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that we utilized county technology and resources to best benefit our students and our staff.”

During the current spring semester, the school is using the OpenCourseWare program for the first time. With it, students are using free, online classes for independent study, Wastler said.

Four students are taking free classes put online by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one student is taking a course through the University of California, Berkeley. Course subjects include microeconomics, introduction to disease and cancer research and nutrition.

Participating students must complete the online course in nine weeks, or a quarter of the school year, then complete a research project with an industry mentor, Wastler said.

The culminating experience, during which the mentor visits the school, is a presentation of their research and a reflection on their learning, Wastler said. Read more.

Open Education Week 10-15 March 2014: Call for Participation (OCW Consortium)

Open Education Week 10-15 March 2014: Call for Participation

Open Education Week is a celebration of the global Open Education Movement. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone.

The Open Education Week Organizing Committee invites your contributions to and participation in the third annual Open Education Week, featuring online and in-person events around the world.

Ways to Contribute:

There are many ways you can contribute to Open Education Week: upload an informational or inspirational video, host an event in your community, send us links to resources about open education, hold a webinar, and promote open education week in your social media networks. To contribute a video or resource, or to have your event or webinar featured on the Open Education Week Events calendar, please use the submission form at www.openeducationweek.org. To get the website ready, we need your submissions by 28 February 2014.

You are welcome to submit multiple resources or events.

Please visit www.openeducationweek.org for more information, ideas and FAQ, follow us on Twitter and Facebook @openeducationwk, or contact us at info@openeducationweek.org.

The full call for participation is available here. Help us spread the word and make this year’s open education week a huge success!

OCWC Global 2014 Conference: Call for Papers is Open!

The 10th annual OpenCourseWare Consortium Global Conference will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on April 23-25, 2014.

The OpenCourseWare Consortium and the Knowledge for All Foundation are jointly organizing the event whose special theme is Open Education for a Multicultural World. We invite submissions of papers on all topics related to open education for the conference proceedings, and proposals for workshops.

The 2014 conference will be organized around four tracks:

Research and Technology. In this track, we expect to explore new technologies allowing scaling and sharing of Open Educational Resources in a faster or more economical way, to index the multimodal and multilingual material, or to navigate and remix available material. Researchers and developers are encouraged to present on-going research as well as running prototypes.

Open Educational Policies, in which policy issues and their impact on open educational practice will be discussed. Licensing issues, alternative business models, cooperative efforts and governmental funding can all be discussed in this track. The focus of such sessions should be on lessons learned rather than a recounting of steps taken.

Pedagogical Impact will allow users to present novel uses of Open Educational Resources and their impact on education. We welcome analysis of the impact of Open Educational Resources on the learning process itself, as well as deployment of OERs in MOOCs, flipped classrooms, hybrid educational approaches and online education.

Finally, a project dissemination track will allow actors (teams, projects, companies) currently involved in open education projects in Europe to present the results of their work.

Timeline

Submissions Due: December 1, 2013
Acceptance Announcements: Week of January 2, 2014
Speaker Registration Deadline: February 27, 2014
Final Papers Due: March 1, 2014

More information is available on the conference website.

Registrations will open on 15 November. If you have any questions please send an email to conference@ocwconsortium.org. The official Twitter #tag is #ocwcglobal.

Educause student survey indicates 71% of undergraduates have used free/open educational resources

The 2013 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, which polled more than 113,000 US and international undergraduates, includes some interesting numbers regarding student use of free and/or open educational resources.  From pages 11-13 of the report:

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Freely available course content/open educational resources, e-books, simulations and education games, and e-portfolios are still in the experimental stages for most students. Seven in 10 students (71%) say they have used freely available course content/open educational resources (OERs) in the past year, yet for most students the scale of use is nominal. Only about 1 out of 10 of these students use OERs “all the time” (Figure 5). Regional and Carnegie class differences were not noteworthy, but older students (14%) compared with younger students (9%) more frequently report that they use OERs “all the time.” In looking at responses to an open-ended question about how students recommend that their instructors use freely available course content, we found that most identified, at least vaguely, ways that they imagined bringing free course content into their studies: as learning aids, as supplemental information sources, and as providers of different perspectives on topics. They cited the value of sourcing additional examples and revisiting/repetition of complex or key points outside the confines of class. The majority of respondents identified a resource or activity related in some way to their academic goals. Khan Academy commonly surfaced as a supplemental OER that students employ independently or, less commonly, as prompted by their instructors. One student’s comment exemplifies the supplemental value of this alternative: “Sometimes taking notes and listening to a lecture [by] the same person can be like bashing yourself over the head with a textbook if it doesn’t make sense. But it’s nice to listen to other styles of teaching like Khan Academy. It gives a valuable perspective.”

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As has been pointed out in the OER community, the report largely misses the distinction between free resources and openly licensed resources, which is important.  Nonetheless, this is a clear indicator that most students, at least occasionally, look beyond the materials presented to them for additional explanations of key concepts and for supplemental materials.

Ten percent using “all the time” and 30% using OER “on occasion” may sound modest, but there were roughly 18 million undergraduate students in the US in 2007, so this indicates that there are more than 7 million US undergraduates using OER and free learning resources and millions more aware of them and trying them out.

Help us sort through what you like about OCW

Our staff is trying a unique new sort of survey to help us better understand what our site visitors like about courses on OCW and how they use them.  We’re looking for 100 intrepid respondents to give this new sorting survey a try and share with us their view on what makes OCW useful to them.  Give it a try.

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Naval aviator powers up his education with MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT News)

Naval aviator powers up his education with MIT OpenCourseWare
Daryle Cardone uses the Institute’s free online course lessons to prepare for future study in physics and math.

Mark Brown
Office of Digital Learning

Daryle Cardone (Photo: Daryle Cardone)

Daryle Cardone (Photo: Daryle Cardone)

Daryle Cardone is a naval aviator and the commanding officer to a squadron of early warning aircraft that operate from the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Known as the Bluetails, Cardone’s squadron consists of 150 pilots, ground crew and other personnel who support four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft. These top-heavy planes carry enormous radar and communication systems on their backs, and serve a critical role in modern military engagements: Each plane acts as a flying command and communications hub, responsible for detecting other planes, ships and ground vehicles from the sky, and coordinating military strikes.

A quick scan of Cardone’s achievements shows that he has no shortage of ambition or talent: He’s a graduate of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (popularly known as TOPGUN) and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School; he’s logged more than 2,800 flight hours and 120 combat missions; and he has a long list of impressive assignments and honors to his name.

Like all naval aviators, Cardone has acquired an engineering-level understanding of the planes he flies — he had to study complex concepts like lift, drag and thrust in detail during flight school. “The engineering part of flight school wasn’t always easy for me,” he admits. “I was a music major in college, and that meant I had to work a lot harder than some of my peers in those aeronautics courses.”

Cardone considered his undergraduate music major a handicap, as he recently considered trying to establish academic eligibility for the Navy’s prestigious Aviation Nuclear Power Program. “I had always known about the prerequisites in calculus and physics to be eligible for the Aviation Nuclear Power Program. The leap felt too big between where I was and where I needed to be,” he says. Read more.