Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Failing a MOOC, learning analytics, and changing gears

In my most recent blog post I wrote about the lecture and how it's not the most important part of the xMOOC. I have to say, that as far as I am concerned, I failed the Think Again course.  My 2 quiz score average was 65%.  OK, this may not be failing, after all there were 2 more quizzes left, where presumably I could have done better and raised my average to something I liked, and I did have another opportunity to raise my second quiz score for Quiz 2; so I guess, if I were my own professor I would say to myself "not all is lost," but I decided to drop the course anyway.  The next couple of months will be really crazy for me, between work (day job), teaching a course online (my adjunct job), and preparing a couple of papers for publication; so I know I don't have time to spend on this course :-)

The other thing I realized was that I was a mildly hungry man at a free all you can eat buffet.  I came to coursera, and xMOOCs in general, with personal curiosity (and there were quire a few courses I was curious in, in related disciplines) but I wasn't hungry. i.e. these courses weren't immediately  or even closely related to my own disciplines.With limited time on my hands, it was rather silly to pile onto my plate so many courses! Of course, as anyone who's experiences gluttony knows, you feel the pain later, so did I!  Therefore, in addition to dropping the Think Again course I dropped all courses that were about coding and programming (I've got no time to really devote to development right now), and all courses that were longer than 8 weeks.  I've determined that, for me at least, the sweet spot for xMOOCs is 8 weeks or fewer. cMOOCs I can probably go longer, but that's only because of interesting content and ideas supplied by fellow MOOC participants via blogs.  Massive discussion boards put me off (as a learner).  Finally, I've also dropped all courses that started between January 1 and February 25, or that ran through then, given all the other work I have :)  Now I am only left with 2 courses LOL ;-)

In any case, in changing gears a bit, and going with the other option, I've decided to spend my learning focus on OLDS MOOC, or for me it's really going back to MOOC basics. I am curious to see how Cloudworks works, I am interested in the topic, and the badges work better for me, as an assessment anyway, because they are tiered, hey aren't all or nothing. I think it will still be a bit of a challenge to keep up with all the things I need to do this spring, but OLDS MOOC should be fun.

One last thing - back to xMOOCs for a moment: Learning Analytics! Personally I wouldn't have predicted that 2012 would come out to be the Year of the MOOC. I will, however, come out and state that I believe that 2013 will be the year of Learning Analytics, as fueled by MOOCs. Some of my colleagues from xMOOCs refer to a funnel effect of xMOOCs (paraphrasing here) where x-may start (let's assume x = 15,000), 5,000 make it through assessment #1 and then drop, 800 through assessment #2 and then drop, and about 300 complete the MOOC with a passing grade.

In years past, with on-campus courses at least, no one bothered to keep track of how many students originally registered, how many students were still there past the add/drop period, and how this correlated with assessments that they took! I think that with xMOOCs we will see a renewed interest in analytics, and we will see some interesting (and some invalid ones, too) comparison between on-campus learner behaviors and MOOCs.  I can't wait to see what people come up with :)

As a parting question, I wonder how performance like mine in Think Again might be interpreted thought a learning analytics lens :-)
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