with Academy member Peter Mellow, learning design coordinator, Learning Environments, University of Melbourne.
Much has been written in the past three years about the rise and demise of the MOOC in tertiary education. Yet like the mythical Lernaean Hydra, just as we put one potential use of MOOCs to rest, another two possible applications pop up!
Here at the University of Melbourne our MOOC development has grown from a ‘project’ to part of our core business. With steady growth from 7 MOOCs in 2013, to 10 in 2014, this year has seen a burst to 21 planned MOOC courses, including our first specialization (series of MOOCs tied together into a ‘micro qualification’) and also our first capstone assessment unit for that specialization. We have just passed 800,000 student enrolments, and are on track to breaking 1 million by the end of this year. While there are still many questions to answer around the role and potential use of MOOCs within the education sectors, some messages are starting to emerge that can be applied to all aspects of learning that has some online component, as increasingly all tertiary education courses seem to be migrating towards.
As some look into the learning analytics, what is clearly emerging for us is that if you are using video components in your classes, either in a blended or flipped strategy to learning, the shorter the videos the better. Edx research suggests around the 6 minute mark ( https://www.edx.org/blog/how-mooc-video-production-affects ) is their sweet spot.
So we have been making an effort to get lecturers to reduce each video to no more than 12 minutes, and so far, student feedback, views and interaction (through the in-video quizzes) has shown this to be more popular than the longer videos we went with in the ‘early years’.
The biggest lesson learnt is to consider the learning design before attempting to create any component of an online course. Many academics have a deep understanding of learning in the face to face world, and think that what works in the classroom will cleanly and clearly migrate to the online world.
However, the limitations of the tools we are using online and the design of the learning and/or assessment tasks we are asked to move online can often weaken the learning experience.
On a positive note, in my experience, by shaping existing learning artifacts and thinking about their design, we can do a lot to make the move online less painful for both the educators and students, enriching the experience. We continue to learn more about online learning through our MOOCs. The adventure continues!