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My experience taking a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

Course name: “Designing a New Learning Environment”, Fall 2012
Instructor: Paul Kim, Assistant Dean for Information Technology and CTO, Stanford University School of Education
http://venture-lab.org/education

This was a 9 week course, and 18,054 students from all over the world registered. Over halfway through the course only 730 students were still working on it. I ended up spending every Sunday afternoon or evening during the rainy October and November months working on the class. I am not aware of a certificate or any other proof that I could get that I completed it.

A. Content that I found valuable

1) World inequality database:
http://www.education-inequalities.org/

2) Non-cognitive skills like willpower and the ability to set and reach goals are critical but not taught explicitly in school.

3) E-portfolios are becoming more important. Once the technology is in place for people to share their work, it will become much more important for job candidates to show what they have done then to prove what courses they have taken.

4) In one assignment we had to describe an educational challenge, and then after the due date we were to try to solve a challenge that another student described. When I went looking for a challenge to solve, I found that another student had described the elimination of courses by Foothill’s CS department! This shows that the searching ability of the course website was good enough for me to find what I was interested in.

5) Another local student set up a study group meeting weekly at Stanford. I was only able to attend once, but I found it fun to interact face-to-face with real people in such a large online course.

B. Team project
The assignment was to “Design a New Learning Model.” We organized ourselves into teams based on our interests, again using the excellent searching capabilities of the site. I joined a team whose goal was to design a professional development workshop for teachers who want to “flip” their classrooms.

I was very lucky that only one person from the team dropped out (she was the president of a college in Brazil, and the one who chose the topic in the first place!) The other students were very compatible, not wanting to work more than 5 hours per week but able to meet via Skype and very motivated on the subject.

The six of us worked well together, mostly on Skype. Since Skype is free, we could just work independently while hanging on the phone to ask questions or discuss when necessary. The other team members came from Uruguay, Spain, France, Nebraska and Missouri; they were a mixture of teachers and administrators. We had fun together!

Our team was incredibly lucky to have a self described “technologist” and instructional support coordinator in Ryan Sullivan from Missouri. Ryan created a WordPress website into which we could all deposit our work. Right now, only two days after our due date, 5 people have already reviewed our work and given us an average of 90%!

Link to our final team project:
http://learningflipped.wordpress.com/

C. Links to Learn More About MOOCs

1) Good video on The Future of Learning:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quYDkuD4dMU

2) What 100 experts think about the future of learning
http://www.teachthought.com/trends/what-100-experts-think-about-the-future-of-learning/

3) Directories of other MOOCs

Coursera:
https://www.coursera.org/

Udacity:
http://www.udacity.com/

Stanford Online:
http://online.stanford.edu/courses/index.html

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