A broader impact of MOOCs

Nieuws | de redactie
11 juni 2014 | “Many people were worried that MOOCs might replace the university, but what we are finding is that MOOCs will not replace university, they will improve university,” says edX CEO Anant Agarwal during his visit to Delft.

“The view of MOOCs has changed in the last two years. Now it is more realistic, but still very exciting. It is still the biggest change in education in hundreds of years,” says edX CEO Anant Agarwal to ScienceGuide during his visited to Technical University Delft for the third edX board meeting. 

“When we started edX in November 2011, we explained that we were looking to improve three things. First we wanted to improve the access to education around the world. We wanted to improve campus-education and we wanted to do research in how students learn.” 

Educating in 196 countries

“We always said that we believe in blended learning model, that you bring the best of online and in person to the classroom. Two years we realized that all three goals were possible. We currently teach over 3.5 million students from all 196 countries in the world. We also provide courses to 15.000 campus-students.” 

“I was talking to a professor in aerospace engineering in Delft that just completed an MOOC. As a part of that they went to research planes and flight simulators to record videos of real life flights and other exiting events. He explained that in a tradition course, students never see any of that. They plan to use all these videos in their campus education to enrich their courses and to inspire students. It is great to see how parts of MOOCs are brought into the classroom.” 

Almost like a videogame

“In some ways you could argue that, hype aside, one could see a broader impact of MOOCs than many people thought possible beforehand. We bring the content back to the classroom.” 

“At MIT they bring the automatic grading they used for MOOCs into the classroom. This gives students instant feedback and saves teachers a lot of time correcting exams. Imagine being a student in this way, it is like playing a videogame since you see your score instantly.” 

“Previously we would give very little exams because it is too time consuming to coordinate and grade them. What they do now is instead of giving two exams, is giving twenty exams in one course: two digital, automatically rated exams every week. The results were very powerful. That was one of the goals of edX, to bring the experiences of online education back to the classroom this quick.” 

The rising tide of MOOCs

“Many people were worried that MOOCs might replace the university, but what we are finding is that MOOCs will not replace university, they will improve university. I like to say that MOOCs are like a rising tide: it will lift all boats. Everybody will benefit.” 

“During edX’s existence we collected over 3.5 billion records of data, every mouse click of a student is recorded. We share this data with our partner-universities, so they can do Big Data research on them to understand how learning works.” 

Six-minute videos

“One researcher did a study on the most effective length of a MOOC-video. Some professors use videos of two minutes others of an hour, but we didn’t know what was most effective. Now we know. It is six minutes. After six minutes student engagement drops. So we now tell our professors to make shorter videos.” 

“This also has huge implications for campus education. You have settings there where professors often talk for one hour without interaction with students. I remember that when I was a student I would lose the professor’s story after five minutes and would just be writing notes.” 

“Maybe we should teach differently: the professor will speak for around six minutes and than engages the students in interaction for a while, and than go back to teaching again. For teachers who are interested in possibilities such as these we created a demo course. ”

 


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