Learning About E-Planning: The Results of a Massive Open Online Course Experiment

Learning About E-Planning: The Results of a Massive Open Online Course Experiment

Jennifer S. Evans Cowley (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA), Thomas W. Sanchez (Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA), Nader Afzalan (University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA), Abel Silva Lizcano (Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy), Zachary Kenitzer (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA), and Thomas Evans (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/ijepr.2014070104
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TechniCity (Technology and Cities) offered in May, 2013 was the first city planning Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). More than 21,000 students registered for the course, which was composed of video lectures, projects, assignments, peer evaluation, and on-line discussion over a four week period. This MOOC experimented with using field based learning, combined with extensive student engagement. The objective was to extend the type of learning environment typically found in city planning classes and similar to what is being done in several other disciplines. This article describes the first stage of research, describing course structure and providing initial findings on both course and student outcomes. Compared to students enrolling in traditional, for-credit classes, students in this MOOC reported a range of backgrounds, motivations, and expectations. The data collected also provide insights on student course activity including completion. This information obtained from the class can be used to improve future course offerings. This article documents a pedagogical approach that is still very new and lacking a significant base of literature and comparative studies. The article conclude by suggesting a variety of topics for further research.
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The Origins Of Technicity

TechniCity originated as a result of a discussion on distance learning at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) Annual Conference in the Fall of 2012 held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Faculty at universities from across the United States expressed interest in continuing the dialogue to see how planning courses could fit the MOOC model which was relatively new and gaining attention. The Ohio State University was offering seed support to launch pilot MOOCs across the university. Virginia Tech, while not a member of a MOOC consortium decided to partner with Ohio State University on this course offering. The course was inspired by two similar courses taught at the upper undergraduate level at Ohio State University and the graduate level at Virginia Tech - an elective course for city planning students at both universities. Two faculty members and an instructional technologist were joined by two doctoral students who worked together to design the class projects, assignments, lectures, discussion topics, organize the course, and facilitate the students’ participation. Additionally, they were supported by teaching assistants who helped track student activity during the four week course.

The course was scheduled during Ohio State University’s “Maymester”, a four-week academic term between the Spring and Summer semester. This means that the course was compressed significantly compared to typical MOOCs that average 10-12 weeks in length and traditional semester length courses averaging 15-16 weeks. As discussed later, the short duration and intensiveness of the course proved to be the biggest challenges for students in the class.

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