I’m in a very interesting spot right now. We are having meetings on how we could do the small blends approach in our pedagogical courses, that is introducing and describing for teachers how they could make teaching more accessible and flexible in small steps with the support of digital tools and the usage of open educational resources. At the same time we are working with other teacher teams on their way of building massive open online courses, the MOOCs.
So, how could these two projects benefit from each other? One small blends approach is making the students work with recorded lectures complemented with quizzes for self tests – and perhaps even forums for discussion, making room for more interactive learning when back in the classroom (you can for instance use TedEd, described in a previous post). This approach is called the flipped classroom (read more here).The MOOCs contain recorded lectures with invideo quizzes for testing your knowledge, often accomplished with more complex assignments like programming or peer-assessed writing tasks. But could you then use content from MOOC´s as the basis for a flipped classroom?
I discovered you can. I found an interesting article (Bruff et al, 2013), and learned something new. If you are doing a blend with a MOOC it is apparently sometimes called wrapping a MOOC, that is wrapping your course around the MOOC course material. The term wrapped is coined by Prof. Fisher and comes from machine learning research literature associated with an algorithm that wraps itself around another and extracts the best parts to improve the overall environment.
The blend described in the article was in a course from Vanderbilt university wrapping around the Stanford produced Machine Learning MOOC. The students from Vanderbilt signed up for the complete course, which means they worked their way through videos, quizzes and programming assignments. In the classroom they discussed the videos but the facilitator of the course also introduced other more challenging reading assignments and to them related discussions, and concluded the course with an individual project of their own design. The students reaction to the project was overall positive, especially using the weekly videos the could watch in their own pace. Another feature that was positive was the ability to change speed, add captions and test yourselves through in video quizzes. The forums of the course, which often play an important part in the standalone online MOOC did not contribute to a social network experience though. Perhaps you really don’t need this if you have your peers in the immediate surrounding? Other courses implementing parts of MOOC´s seems to experience the same phenomenon (Caulfield, 2013).
But can you then use any MOOC for your course in this our time of openness?
There must of course be different rules for using other universities’ course material, depending on the university and what platform the MOOC is published on. For instance if a course is published on Coursera you have a partner exchange programme which I believe means that you can have the previously mentioned collaboration that Vanderbilt and Stanford had. If not, then you as a university will have to choose how open you want be with your material – perhaps publish course or course material on a platform under a creative commons license.
According to Amy Collier in her TedX speak The Brave New World of Online Learning “…openness is at the very core to be accessible to as many people as possible. And the meaning of accessible here being pushed to be reimagined, editable, changeable so that the ideas can continue to grow.” There is a difference here, I think, between a Massive Open Online course being open to enrollment and being open for the sharing of content. There are uncertainties on how you as a teacher can benefit from the vast repositories that the MOOCs in a way represent. This is an (for me) uncharted territory that definitely needs to be investigated further.
Bruff, D. O., Fisher, D. H., McEwen, K. E., & Smith, B. E. (2013). Wrapping a MOOC: Student Perceptions of an Experiment in Blended Learning. Journal of Online Learning & Teaching, 9(2). Find it here: http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/2013/09/wrapping-a-mooc-cft-study-published-in-the-journal-of-online-learning-and-teaching-jolt/
Caulfield. M., Collier.A , & Halawa. S. (2013) Rethinking Online Community in MOOCs Used for Blended Learning | EDUCAUSE.edu Find it here: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/rethinking-online-community-moocs-used-blended-learning
The Flipped Classroom FAQ
The Brave New World of Online Learning: Amy Collier at TEDxStanford