Thursday, April 24, 2014

Four weeks, Five MOOCs, One Open2Study experience

Last year when I put out the call for the Great Big MOOC Book, one of the submissions came from a colleague in Australia who is going to write a bit about MOOC experiments that they ran on the Australian Open2Study platform, which is sponsored by the Open University of Australia.  I had heard of the platform before, but I never really tried it out since I was testing out other platforms at the time.  Well, since there wasn't much on Coursera to keep me going (too much of the same makes for a dull MOOC), and since rhizo14 is winding down (to some extent) I decided it was time to check out this platform.

I originally signed up for two topics: Teaching Adult Learners, and Becoming and Confident Trainer. The Adult Learner topic was mostly to see what others say about the topic since I've already taken courses on this topic as part of my master's coursework.  The confident trainer was a bit of a repetition, but it was also an interesting look into corporate training, something I am not too much into given that I work in Higher Education.  Once I sampled these two course, I decided to sign up for a few more, Concepts in Game Development, going back to my computer science days; Human Resources, going back to my MBA days for a refresher; and User Experience for the Web, a refresher on my UX days in computer science, but also to see what a self-paced topic looks like.  The other four courses were "paced" courses.

My badges thus far
There are a few things that were head-turners. The Open2Study platform has a certain level of gamification where badges are awarded for certain types of actions. These actions are on aggregate for all courses taken on a platform. So, you are rewarded for participating in the forums, voting on other posts, getting voted up by peers, connecting with others, passings quizzes in the course, getting a perfect score in a class, and completing multiple courses (just to name a few).  By satisfactorily completing five courses, I have earned 29 badges. None of these are Open Badge compliant, so I can't export them to my backpack.  Oh well! The key thing here is that there seems to be a carrot for completing the work in the class, being social, helping others in the course, and actually completing the courses in a satisfactory manner (beyond the certificate that you get at the end).

That said, I did notice that all courses followed the same format.  There are four modules in each course, no more, no less,  Each module has nine or ten mini-modules which include a short video (less than ten minutes) and a multiple choice quiz. Each module has a final, summative, quiz which contains five or ten multiple choice questions.  The final summative quiz can be taken up to four times for a better score, but the thing I noticed was that when I took the quiz, I got a final score. I was never told which questions I got wrong, so when I went back to take it again, I had to second guess myself on some quizzes.  This time around I didn't care about getting the badge for 100% on all quizzes, so I never really tried quizzes again if I got less than 100%.

From a content perspective, I do like some of the video elements, like the glass wall that they write on to illustrate their points (gets us away from horrible horrible powerpoint presentations), and that they limit most videos to 10 minutes. That said, presentations were a bit formulaic.  The formula was:
  1. This is what I am going to tell you
  2. I am telling you what I said I was going to tell you
  3. This is what I told you
  4. This is what we are talking about in the next segment.
It's not THAT bad when you are taking one course, but when you are doing five at a time (and there isn't a ton of of interaction in the forums), it gets kind of dull by week 4.  Speaking of forums, in the self-paced course there was no interaction in the forums since everyone was doing it on their own time. Thus, for me, I blew through the course in 3 days. For the paced courses, due to the fact that there was a barrier (i.e. you can't blow through the content until it's released), there was some discussion in the forums which made for an enjoyable, albeit a little of  discontinuous, experience. While I did get some up-votes for what I posted, and while I did respond to some things that people said, I didn't really feel as "connected" as I do in other MOOC forums, like rhizo.

Finally, I did connect (aka "friend") with some people, but again, feeling disconnected.    On the plus side, I DID end up using some of the knowledge I gained in some of these MOOCs right away, which as refreshingly surprising to me! I'm signed up for five more courses, starting at the end of the week. So more Open2Study thoughts at the end of those.

What you do you think? Have you had any O2S experiences?
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