A MOOC sees its greatest impact in the classroom at MIT (MIT News)

Banner image for VJx: a painting of a ship.

Japanese woodblock print of American warship, circa 1854. (Image courtesy of the Nagasaki Prefecture.)


MIT Professor Shigeru Miyagawa has been a long-time champion of online education and open sharing.  Now we can add “flipped classroom advocate” to that list.

This fall, Professor Miyagawa simultaneously taught two versions of his course Visualizing Japan to two very different audiences. He co-taught the massive online open course (MOOC) VJx on edX, and at the same time taught the residential course 21F.027 for MIT students.

The edX MOOC, which ran for 6 weeks, was a marked success. It had a completion rate of 13 percent — double the normal rate for a MOOC — and 97.5 percent of the learners said that they were satisfied to extremely satisfied with the course.

But the MIT classroom experience is perhaps the bigger story. While the MOOC was running, the MIT residential course operated largely in flipped mode. Students were assigned the MOOC video lectures and quizzes to complement their classroom work.

For both the students in class and for Miyagawa it became clear early on that something was very different. On the first day of the module “Black Ships and Samurai,” Miyagawa was set to give the lecture he had prepared with a PowerPoint presentation. Shortly into the lecture he asked the class, “What happened in 1868?” He was expecting a couple of students to raise their hands, but everyone seemed to know that this was the beginning of Meiji Restoration that put Japan on the road to modernization.

Miyagawa abandoned his lecture and pressed on with more questions. He was pleasantly surprised that most of the students were not only able to answer the questions, but also willing to engage him and the other students in discussion. “When I finished the class without showing even a single slide from my PowerPoint, I could only ask, what happened?” he remarks.

What happened was a transformative experience for both the students and the professor. Read the full story here.

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