Online Teaching: Applying Distance Learning Principles to MOOCs

Online Teaching: Applying Distance Learning Principles to MOOCs

Canan Blake, Eileen Scanlon
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5162-3.ch013
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This chapter presents a description of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), their brief history and some examples. Then the chapter focuses on online learning and how research on distance education can be used to inform the design of these courses. In particular, the authors consider research in the following areas: improving learner experience, online activities, and assessment.
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What Are Moocs?

MOOCs are online university courses which are open to anyone who wants to study them and aim to provide access to quality education to people without the need to leave their homes. There is a wide variety of designs in the proliferation of courses which have been offered. Much teaching material consists of pre-recorded lectures/videos divided into weekly sections with assignment tasks. They have a specific start and finish date and students sign up online. The courses last for a few weeks and might be offered two or three times a year. A wide range of interactive and media tools are available to students to enable them to interact with other learners. For example, video lectures (some including quizzes), online discussion boards, blogs, wikis and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are provided. There are also opportunities to meet face to face with fellow students, in meet-ups organized by students themselves. As the learning support is provided by the online learning community, students can form support groups as they require. The assessment of MOOCs is carried out mostly using peer and self-assessment and computer assessed assignments. There is often no requirement for interaction between the teacher and the student.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Learning or E-Learning: It is sometimes called is a form of distance education where online courses are delivered over the Internet and can be accessed from a computer with a Web browser. Online courses have content presented using a variety of multimedia elements such as presentations, interactive content, graphics, audio, and video.

Collaborative Learning: An instruction method in which two or more people learn or attempt to learn something by working together in small groups. The learners are responsible for one another's learning as well as their own.

Connectivism: A learning framework which emphasises the connections between different domains of activity and also between individuals in a social networked environment. George Siemens has written on the subject extensively.

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): A recent development in distance education. It is an online course with large number of students and open access to course materials including as videos, quizzes, readings and discussion forums. There are cMOOCs which primarily make use of the power of social media and interaction. These are based on the idea of connectivism. xMOOCs on the other hand are based on the interaction of the participant with the content provided in the course and are sometimes called behaviourist MOOCs.

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