I wanted to learn more about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and I thought the best way to learn about them was to sign up and experience one; so I did. Then I had to choose one. I signed up for the Gamification MOOC on Coursera.com which was taught by Professor Kevin Werbach from the Wharton School of Pennsylvania. I wrote the following on April 10, 2013, about one week after my MOOC started.
When I signed up for this MOOC, I really didn’t know what to expect. What little I did know was that MOOCs (pronounced mooks, rhyming with spooks) offer a way to learn content, they’re usually free, most do not count as college credit, and that they’re talked about in almost every training and development discussion group and blog that I’ve read in the last year. MOOCs are relatively new, dating back to 2008, but have become much more widespread and talked about in the last year.
I quickly learned that for my particular MOOC, students are expected to spend four to eight hours a week watching content videos, doing homework, taking quizzes, writing assignments, and completing a final exam. Plus, the course would last six weeks. Geez, that sounds like a lot of work!
One thing I had read about MOOCs is that tens of thousands of people typically sign up for them and in a few cases, over 100,000 people sign up. However, only about 10percent complete a MOOC. Well, that sounded like a challenge to me, so I signed up for one with a goal to complete it. The MOOC topic didn’t matter much to me; I was more interested in the process of taking the MOOC. Why a MOOC on Gamification? Well, because I’m an instructional designer based in a marketing department. What I learn about gamification can not only spill over into my instructional design work; it can also give ideas on how gamification can help companies with their marketing strategies.
Over 62,000 people signed up for the Gamification MOOC for April 2013. From stats collected via a student survey for our course, participants were from 149 countries with the highest percentage (28%) from the United States and 6 percent each from India, Brazil, and Spain.
Each week, two units of online video content sessions (about five to six videos per unit) are posted to watch. Each video session is from about three to 16 minutes in length with an average being 10 minutes. During the videos, Dr. Werbach not only explains content, but also uses presentation slides, graphics, and drawing tools to further explain the concepts. In a few of the videos, it pauses to give you a brief assignment to write down in your notes, to participate in a discussion forum, to ask you a quick multiple-choice question, and then the video continues. Dr. Werbach’s personality and presentation skills made what could have been very tedious videos very interesting.
More video examples
Screen shots used with permission from Dr. Kevin Werbach
Coursera (www.coursera.org) serves as the Learning Management System for this and several other MOOCs. Other learning tools are used in the MOOC such as discussion forums, links to additional resources, a course wiki, and the ability to set up location “meetups” with other students of the course.
The “grading” of the course is based on a number of quizzes, written assignments, and a final exam. I had my first online quiz (multiple choice) last week. It was fairly easy if you took notes, but maybe it was designed to be easier so that participants would stay engaged in the course. We’ll see if it gets harder as the course progresses. This week we have Quiz #2 plus a written assignment that must be submitted at the end of the week. The written assignments are peer-graded. Each written assignment that is submitted is then assigned to five students to read and grade based on a rubric. Then, you get the average of the five grades by your reviewers. If you don’t participate in grading assignments from five other participants, you get a zero for your grade. This course was also given last fall, and they said that the peer grading worked well. It should be interesting to see how this works next week.
Takeaways from week one? Content can be learned via MOOCs, MOOCs take some effort and time commitment from participants, and MOOCs can be an effective way to learn. I’m looking forward to continuing this experience.
See part 2 of this article: Final Thoughts on My First MOOC!