Massive Open Online Course Management: Learning Science and Engineering through Peer-Reviewed Projects

Massive Open Online Course Management: Learning Science and Engineering through Peer-Reviewed Projects

Ana M. Pessoa (Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal), Luis Coelho (Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal) and Ruben Fernandes (Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7304-5.ch005


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are gaining prominence in transversal teaching-learning strategies. However, there are many issues still debated, namely assessment, recognized largely as a cornerstone in Education. The large number of students involved requires a redefinition of strategies that often use approaches based on tasks or challenging projects. In these conditions and due to this approach, assessment is made through peer-reviewed assignments and quizzes online. The peer-reviewed assignments are often based upon sample answers or topics, which guide the student in the task of evaluating peers. This chapter analyzes the grading and evaluation in MOOCs, especially in science and engineering courses, within the context of education and grading methodologies and discusses possible perspectives to pursue grading quality in massive e-learning courses.
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1 Introduction

Education, if taken as the ‘training’ or ‘upbringing’ of offspring, is transversal in many animal species. Wolf packs involve all their members in the care of pups, including in playing with them. These playing habits include chases and ‘toys’ such as bones or the skins of dead animal. The pups ‘kill’ the toys and carry them around, raising the possibility of the play being a practice of future adult actions. However, Humanity has integrated education in a formal manner that is unique. From an early beginning of preservation of knowledge and skills in Pre-History (Akinnaso, 1992), to a formal declaration in the Human Rights, Education (article 26, Human Rights Declaration, United Nations, 2009) evolved as society itself changed, adjusting not only to the needs but also to the values (ethical, economical or even artistic) of the people that commanded decisions on the affairs of everyday living.

Though educational methods have been subject of evaluation and critique from the moment that writing become available, the massification of public educational systems, in the 19th Century, made it an academic subject and both a governmental and private concern (Stray, 2001). From the Industrial Revolution to present day, few controversies have stood as perennial as the ‘proper educational system’ to be officially adopted, including age limit and if school attendance should be mandatory. In recent years, the explosion of new multimedia platforms offering a plethora of Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOC) added new questions to an already mined subject: are these new options as qualified as the more orthodox courses in developing competences? And if so, how can we determine the extent of their quality?

In this chapter, these and other questions are addressed, through analysis of the available data and review of published studies of the subject. The importance of MOOC is increasing by the second, literally, and, according to its more fervent defenders, it may become a substitute for formal higher education in the long run. Therefore, reflexion on its organic is significant for all areas that intertwine human society, since education is pervasive to culture, customs and living, the basis of what give us identity.

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