Archive for July 5, 2013

Success in MOOCs: Talk offline is important for learning

That students who had offline help did the best in this MOOC study is not surprising.  Sir John Daniel reported in Mega-Universities that face-to-face tutors was the largest line item in the Open University UK’s budget.  But the fact that 90% of the students didn’t talk online (a statistic that is similar to what Tucker Balch found) says that success in MOOCs may be more about talking offline than online.

“On average, with all other predictors being equal, a student who worked offline with someone else in the class or someone who had expertise in the subject would have a predicted score almost three points higher than someone working by him or herself,” write the authors.The correlation, described by the authors as the “strongest” in the data set, was limited to a single instance of a particular MOOC, and is not exactly damning to the format. But it nonetheless may give ammunition to critics who say human tutelage remains essential to a good education.Other findings could also raise eyebrows. For example, the course’s discussion forum was largely the dominion of a relatively small group of engaged users; most students simply lurked. “It should be stressed that over 90 percent of the activity on the discussion forum resulted from students who simply viewed pre-existing discussion threads, without posting questions, answers, or comments,” the authors write.

via MOOC Students Who Got Offline Help Scored Higher, Study Finds – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

July 5, 2013 at 1:08 am 4 comments

Benefits of Online, Face-to-Face Professional Development Similar, Study Finds

These are really exciting results.  Done well, on-line professional development is as effective as face-to-face professional development.  These results are promising for our CSLearning4U project. In particular, the benefit that Barry Fishman saw is what we were most hoping for, based on our studies with Klara Benda — it’s all about fitting into the teachers’ lives.

Of course, the devil is in how the teacher training is designed and executed. “There are no shortcuts in professional development,” Fishman stressed.

In the study, teachers who received the online professional development weren’t just plopped in front of YouTube. Instead, the group took a series of self-paced “short courses” via computer. They also interacted online with facilitators who helped them through the units and answered their questions.

Like their counterparts in the face-to-face group, the teachers were expected to become familiar with geographic information system software and how to teach it, as well as how to engage students in a hands-on, iterative learning process. Teachers in both groups had access to the same print materials and computer simulations.

Fishman and his colleagues found that teachers in the online group spent wildly varying amounts of time learning the new curriculum. One teacher cruised through the material in three hours. Another took 52 hours to digest everything. But the classroom results were largely the same.

“One of the benefits of online professional development is that it lets teachers move at their own pace,” Fishman said. “The same thing is probably going on in face-to-face [settings]. You just zone out when you’re sitting in a 40-hour workshop.”

via Benefits of Online, Face-to-Face Professional Development Similar, Study Finds – Digital Education – Education Week.

July 5, 2013 at 1:01 am 1 comment


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