Sunday, June 16, 2013

Report on Coursera MOOCs at Edinburgh University

The 42 page document "MOOCs at Edinburgh 2013: Report Number 1" by the "MOOCs@Edinburgh Group", details the student experience with the first six Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) run by Edinburgh University as part of the Coursera consortium. The report suggests to me that MOOCs are most popular with university academics wanting to learn about e-learning and current students supplementing conventional courses. Also it suggests that the workload of on-line university courses should be half that of face-to-face courses (four, rather than eight hours a week).

The 5 and 7 week University of Edinburgh courses were run in 20013, with a total enrollment of over 300,000 students (which the report curiously calls "learners"). Courses were offered in Philosophy; E-­‐learning, Artificial Intelligence, Astrobiology, Equine Nutrition and Critical Thinking. AI was at Masters level and the others undergraduate.

40% of those enrolled used the the course web site in the first week, by week five this had dropped to 29%. From a survey conducted, this was the first MOOC for 75% for 53% their only MOOC. Students were typically from the USA or UK, 25 to 34 years old and of age. Most interestingly, Teachers and current university students were the most represented groups, with 40% already having a degree. This suggests that MOOCs are being taken by teachers looking to learn about them and current university students supplementing their conventional courses. This suggests that good areas to address with MOOCs are teacher training (particularly in e-learning) and short modules to supplement existing courses (not whole courses).

Students were happy with the MOOCs. Students spent 2 to 4 hours per week studying per MOOC. This is far less than the 8 to 10 hours typically required for a university course. Four hours might be a more realist figure for universities to aim for part time students to spend on a course and is likely to be a more realistic figure for how much time they really do spend. With this time budget, course designers could then cut unproductive parts of courses, such as lectures (live and prerecorded).

12% of the students were issued with Statements of Accomplishment (SoAs). This is far lower than I would expect from a typical university course which might have around 75% of the students to complete the course and pass.

It took University of Edinburgh ten months from starting discussions with Coursera to the first delivery of six courses. This seems very fast progress, I would expect this would typically take eighteen months to two years.

ps: I will be speaking on "MOOCs with Books" at ANU in Canberra, 4pm, 8 July 2013

No comments: