MOOCs and Their Implications for Community Colleges | InstructureCon 2013

MOOCs and Their Implications for Community Colleges | InstructureCon 2013

October 22, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


STEPHANIE DELANEY: Hello. Let’s see. So I thought I’d started really
quickly by saying what I’m going to say because when
you come to a conference like this your time valuable. And I don’t want you to waste
it sitting here thinking you wished you had heard something
else, and that’s not what I was planning to talk about. So what I’m going
to talk about is briefly, what are MOOCs. Two, how are MOOCs different
when you’re thinking about community colleges. Three, what’s Seattle Central
doing with them their MOOC. And four, what can community
colleges in general do with MOOCs. So that’s when I going
to talk about. I will walk slowly back
to my computer. And during that time, you can
discreetly get up and leave if that’s not what you
wanted to hear. How many of you have
taken a MOOC? Oh, lots of you. Anybody teaching a MOOC? Oh, a few of you. OK. Any of you working with your
institutional on preparing a MOOC, like you’re the
instructional designer, you’re doing some– OK. Cool. We got people from all
over the place. All right. A MOOC is a massive open
online course. And I think it’s important to
break that down because it’s really a misnomer. And if you look in the news– and MOOCs have been just all
over, just really like the last 18 months, all over the
news, MOOCs this, MOOCs that. It’s as if they came out of
nowhere, but they didn’t. They’ve been actually
around for a while. You wouldn’t know that from
the news, but they have. But when people are talking
about MOOCs in the news, they’re always talking about
something slightly different than what MOOCs actually are. So I thought I would start by
clarifying what MOOCs really are and how the different
ways that you might use them might vary. So, first, massive. From the community college
perspective, where we often have relatively small classes
of less than 40 people, massive is anything bigger
than 40 people. But when they’re talking about
massive with MOOCs, they’re often talking about 10,000
students or 15,000 or 20,000 students, lots and lots
more than 40. So lots of students engaging
in a learning space is the massive. Open. The original thought about
open was open as in open licensing and shareable
and remixable and out their for world. But that’s not really what
they’re talk about open. And Coursera, MITx, a lot of
times what they’re talking about is open just meaning
anybody can take it. It’s open in that there’s
no barriers of cost or application processes
and the like. So you need to know people are
talking about when they’re talking about open, which isn’t
always the traditional definition of open. Online. Well, usually most people
get this piece right. Generally, across the board
they’re talking really classes that are fully online. A little more and more MOOCs
are being used to support hybrid courses. And I’ll be actually talking
about that in a little bit. And then a course. And a course implies that you’ve
got some outcomes, that there’s a beginning, that
there’s an and, that you’re going someplace, that you
are learning something. And we think very traditionally
about a course in the community colleges. And sometimes what they’re
talking about in the MOOC is not as course specific
as we might think. And we might need to open our
minds a little bit to what we mean by course and think of
course as just a place where one engages in learning as
opposed to a place where people start at square A and
work systemically without skipping any steps to Z, which
is not necessarily what they’re talking about when we’re
talking about a MOOC. The typical features of a MOOC
are famous instructors who have big names and who come
from prestigious colleges. Traditionally, although this has
really changed really in the last year, but most of
the earlier MOOCs were on technical subjects, like
engineering or computer programming. And interestingly, the people
who are teaching these MOOCs have never taught
online before. They just walked out of the
classroom and stepped in front of the camera. And they have a big old team of
people, supporting the fact that they’ve never taught online
before, taking care of all of those things for them. MOOCs, of course, are known
for having low completion rates, that students frequently
start, but they don’t frequently finish. And another feature of the
MOOC is that they can be overwhelming. For those of you who have
taken a MOOC, it’s like perhaps standing in front of a
fire hose and just masses of information flowing and hitting
you and knocking you over, and you may not be able to
get up, which is why people don’t finish. They’re laying on the ground
completely overwhelmed by the information they got just from
day one of trying to introduce themselves, let alone engaging
with the content and getting through to the next two weeks. And, yes, it can be
overwhelming. I want to talk about these
typical features. Because usually when they’re
talking about MOOCs, they’re almost always talking about
MOOCs at university. They’re pretty much never
talking about MOOCs the community colleges. So let’s talk about how we
might compare the two. So we’ve got the famous
instructors. And then we’ve got– at community colleges we
typically don’t really have famous instructor. They’re good. They’re fabulously. They should be famous. But usually they’re not. Our colleges while fabulous
and while they should be prestigious, usually not. We don’t have the resources to
support people who have never taught online before and
engaging in a MOOC because they need like an army of people
to take care of all the little things, like designing
the course, interacting with the students. All of those things take some
learning, some preparation, some time that if you don’t what
you’re doing it would be really hard to do. We don’t usually have the
resources to support the type of thing that is happening now
with the huge growth in MOOCs at the university. That’s usually able to happen
because they have the resources to support that. So those are some of the ways
that MOOCs are different in community colleges than they
are in the university. So you’ve got the big players. You got the Coursera, MITx,
and of course, canvas.net. And they’re out there being a
platform for people to put MOOCs, offerings MOOCs out to
places where students can go to find this information, places
where institutions can go to offer the courses. At Seattle Central, we have
a MOOC on canvas.net. It’s US History 1 and 2. And at Seattle Central, we have
something that not a lot of institutions have, which is
old-school, paper-and-pencil correspondence courses. And we have several of them. We run about 1,000 students
a year through those. So they’re pretty popular. And we find they need a need
for a lot of students. So when we first heard about
canvas.net and heard about some of the models they were
thinking, one of the models was just a self-paced model
where students just came in and engaged with the
information. And I thought, well,
that sounds like a correspondence course. Let’s try it. So we basically our traditional
paper-and-pencil correspondence course,
and we digitized it. I acted as the instructional
designer for the course, and our instructor Nate Weston had
already prepared US History 1 and 2 as a correspondence
course. So we took the existing
course, we had Nate add some images. We had him add a test bank
for each module. We had him add a movie for each
module, and that was it. I put it in the Canvas, massaged
it, added some interactivity, but basically the
class that people come in and they dabble their toes
in the US history waters. Let me show you a little
bit of a class. This is the US History
1 class actually. There’s one of the images
that Nate found. We’ve got in this class I
think it’s 12 modules, a little introduction, student
orientation. Each module has an overview,
some text readings that are based in– actually, I’ll just
real quick through it, assuming I’ve got my
internet here. Great. Got objectives. Got a little audio introduction
for each one. We’ve got a textbook that
is open source. Skip past the student
demographic. And this open textbook,
any student can get. So it’s really easy for
anybody to jump in and do this class. They don’t need to buy a book. So we’ve got the readings
lined up for that. Got a little video here. In the original course, there
were essay questions. And we took the essay questions
and made them writing reflection questions. The students are welcome to post
these on the discussion board if they want to. And Nate tends to go in
and respond to the students if they do. They don’t have to, just a way
for students to share with each other if they would like. And then there’s a quiz. All the way down at
the bottom maybe. There we go. So here we’ve got a
10-question quiz. So that’s what each
module looks like. Ahh, what happened
to my PowerPoint? All right. So we paid Nate our typical
course modification rate to digitize the course,
add those images, to find those pictures. And then we are paying him an
hourly rate to oversee the course, answer student
questions, interact with the students during the course. And he works about an hour
to two a week on overseeing the class. At the moment, we have
about 650 people in the US History 2. We had about 750 complete– I’m sorry. In that US History 1 we were
just looking at, we had about 750 people participate in the
US History 1 class that we offered in the first round of
canvas.net courses in January. And to me that’s, pretty
exciting that over 1,000 people so far have voluntarily
decided to engage in US history. In the first class, I think a
lot of it was like, oh, here’s some MOOCs, and let’s
just try this out. Let’s see what this canvas.net
this is because everything was new. But I think now that it’s sort
of underway a little bit and it’s not quite so new, that
650 people that we have in this class now are actually
people who are doing a little bit more engaging. We’re seeing more activity
on the discussion boards. We’re seeing more things
happening. And I think part of that is
from the lessons learned. After we finished the first
one, the Canvas staff were really supportive in talking
to us about what they were seeing across the board in the
canvas.net classes and what sorts of things that we could do
to help make the class more engaging for students. So we made some slight
modifications to the course. And so when we pushed out the
US History 2 had a couple of things that were different. We had completion check so
that students can see the progress that they’re making
in the course. We added a couple of discussions
where students could start engaging on their
own if they wanted to. So just little things like that
that made it a little bit more engaging. So why are we offering a MOOC? One, because it’s cool. We just thought it
would be fun. And we like the idea of
try before you buy. Like I said, these are based
on our traditional correspondence courses. We like the idea of students
being able to see for free what it is they’re
getting into. And we have a couple of notices
posted in class saying, if you like this
course, some on over to Seattle Central and sign up, and
we’ll be happy to give you five credit for it. You got to pay the regular
standard rate and everything, but you can take this content
and these materials and use it to earn credit at
Seattle Central. We hope that that results in
some slightly improved enrollments at some point
in the future. But we’re not doing this because
we expect thousands more students to come to Seattle
Central and take our correspondence courses. We’re more doing it in the
spirit of innovation, in the spirit of getting people to
talk differently about pedagogy and learning, and in
the spirit of doing something interesting. So what have we learned
from doing a MOOC. Canvas distributed a survey at
the end of our US History 2 class that we offered
in first quarter. And we had over 700
people enroll. Only 29 of them took
the survey. So please take these results
with a grain of salt, but also know that these results tend to
be consistent with the type of data we’re getting from
courses across the board in canvas.net and across the board
in MOOCs in general. So only 30% of the students plan
to complete the class. And a lot of times you hear
about, ahh, people take these MOOCs, but they don’t finish,
so that means they’re bad. Well, no. For those of you who are
community college people, you know completion is like
a thorn in our side. And people say, well, no, people
don’t complete their community college degrees. Well, they don’t come to
community to complete. They might come to take one or
two classes or to finish up the requirement for X or to
just get a little bit of a credential so they can
move up the work. And then when they
done getting what they need, they leave. And what they need is
not always a degree. In fact it’s not usually
a degree. Well, what people need when
they come to a MOOC is not being done. They just wanted to learn a
little bit about history. And my thought is, yeah. Not, ahh, well, if you
didn’t finish, you should have never started. And what kind of attitude
is that. So I’m excited that people even
came into this class and started reading about
US history. And even they only listened to
the first introduction or if they only read the first couple
chapters, they probably knew more about US history
than they did when they came into it. And what’s not to
like about that. It’s just a good thing. English is a second language for
a good chunk of the people in this class, and we’re
discovering this really across the board that lots of people
from around the world are engaging in these courses for
additional information. And so that really has
implications on our design of the course, on the way that we
think about the language that we use in the course, and I
think has some implications for wanting to really adhere to
the principles of universal design, not that we weren’t
going to do that anyway, but it makes it more important
than ever that we keep that in mind. This is a highly educated group,
56% percent of them already had a degree, which is
different from our everyday students, where most of them
don’t have a degree. That’s why they’re there. They may be transferring off, or
they may be doing all sorts of things but often are
not degree holder. So this is a really
educated group. They’re coming into this because
they are educated, and they want more. If you were asleep before,
you’re awake now. So how can we thoughtfully use
MOOCs at community colleges? One way that we can use them is
competency-based learning. You probably already have
systems at your colleges where students can test out of things
because they already know how to do so it. So this really is not
that much different. In fact it’s pretty much
the same thing. If you do credit by exam,
why not do credit by exam for a MOOC? Why not have your faculty in X
department review a couple of MOOCs and say, hey, student,
if you really want to know more about X, take this, and
we’ll do credit by exam for you at the end. To me that seems like really a
great use of the MOOC and also a great way to incorporate your
faculty into that because they’re selecting the MOOCs that
they like, the MOOCs that they think get the students to
the place they want to go. And this can be especially
useful in plugging gaps or providing courses that your
institution really just could never make go. Maybe there’s never going to
be 15 students who want to study this little particular
thing about chemistry or this little particular thing about
English literature, but the instructor would really enjoy
engaging in that from the design of the exam, and the
students would like engaging in it through taking
a free MOOC. That to me seems like a really
good use and a way that you could use a MOOC at the
community college. Another idea is the
flipped classroom. And a model for that might be
the students watch a MOOC or engage in a MOOC online. And then when they come together
in the classroom, they’re having the vigorous
conversations, or they’re doing some group. They’re really taking advantage
of the fact that they’re able to come together
in a room and have a conversation. So it could really be, again,
any kind of MOOC that the instructor would select. Or maybe it could be several
different MOOCs and students coming together in a classroom
sharing from several different perspectives on a common theme
or something like that, so giving students a chance to
select something that’s interesting to them and able
to get them to some pedagogical goals. So using MOOCs to support
a flipped classroom. Also a great way for the
instructor who is interested in doing a flipped classroom
type of model or doing a hybrid course yet is not quite
up to creating all the content for themselves. Why reinvent the wheel? If somebody already has a
fabulous course teaching the thing that they teach, why not
have the students engage in that fabulous course and have
the instructor who really love the face-to-face experience
that’s wants to begin experimenting with doing some
stuff online really focus their pedagogical energies where
they’re already very skilled and have them slowly
build up on the online space. So another way that you might
want to use a MOOC is do the flipped classroom. And then the third way is
credentialing through badges. And this is something that’s a
really new thought for our community colleges. But it’s not that big of a
jump from credit by exam, which people are already pretty
comfortable with. And a badge is like
the image says. In the Girl Scouts or the Boy
Scouts, you would build a fire, and you can get a
fire-building badge. Or you would walk somebody
across the street and have a politeness badge. You can earn badges for
accomplishing goals. And those pedagogical goals
could be set by the institution, by department,
by instructors. And they could say, if a student
does X, Y, and Z, we’ll give them a badge that
says, Seattle Central acknowledges this student
this this. And then they can take that
badge with them and say, look employer, I don’t have any
credit, but look, this badge that shows that I have
skills doing X. And the badges can be attached
to actual pedagogical goals or outcomes in a class or could
be something that gets students to do a little extra
outside of the class beyond the classroom experience for
maybe an honors credential or other ways that you can
recognize student work that goes above and beyond what is
happening in the class. So all sorts of things that
we could do with badging. And we are thinking about– and I’m trying to work through
the official logistics– badging for our canvas.net MOOCs
so that when somebody completes the course, if they
would like, we would give them a batch saying, you
did it, woo-who. So those are my three ideas for
how you might use a MOOC in your community college. And I think– yep, that the
basics for my presentation. So I’m curious, what are
you guys doing at your institutions if anything with
MOOCs that maybe agrees with these or goes beyond
these ideas? Anybody? Yeah? JESSE SCHREIER: For your
presentation, a lot of your statements about the value of
MOOCs beside completion, I’m going to give a talk right after
you about designing the MOOCs at Brown. And the idea that we have is
similar to yours, which is that we’re offering a free
two-week course, which then says, OK, this is what it’s
going to be like if you pay for these courses. So it’s sort of a way of showing
students what the course is going to be like. And then if they want to
pay for it, come on. We’re happy to have you. Now the trick now– and I’m
interested to hear what you have to say about this– the MOOC experience is
very different from a small online class. And if students think a MOOC
is online learning, then I feel like that in some ways
undercuts our really small online classes where there is
real direct interaction with the professor all the time. And so it’s really hard for us
to differentiate [INAUDIBLE]. This is a MOOC, and the course
that you’re going to take is going to be kind of like this,
but you’re also going to have real professor [INAUDIBLE]. STEPHANIE DELANEY:
Excellent point. And let me summarize them
so that they will be heard on the recording. What’s your name? JESSE SCHREIER: Jesse
Schreier. STEPHANIE DELANEY: Jesse. Thank you. So Jesse noted that– [INAUDIBLE] STEPHANIE DELANEY: –all
standard online course. What we’ve done is in the
introduction to our courses really try to be clear what it
is that these students are engaging in here, especially
since this particular MOOC is a self-paced MOOC, which is,
again, different from other types of MOOCs where there’s
a lot more interaction. We’re inviting the students if
they would like to interact with each other, but there’s no
expectation that people are doing a whole lot or that the
instructor is doing a whole lot, but this is a place where
one can learn about history. And so we really try to say in
the introductory material, this is what the expectations
are for you and what your expectations should be of the
instructor, and this is how this experience is. And if you sign up and take this
class at Seattle Central, this is how it’s going
to be different. You got to work harder. You going to have
to more work. The instructor will be giving
you immediate feedback. And so just really being clear
on the distinction between the two experiences and really
just laying it out very clearly for the students
at the beginning. JESSE SCHREIER: OK. STEPHANIE DELANEY: Yeah? AUDIENCE: Do you have
to do a MOOC through the dot net on Canvas? And do the student
self-enroll? STEPHANIE DELANEY: The students
do self-enroll. What do you mean do we have
to do it through Canvas? AUDIENCE: Well, it’s a dot
net versus [INAUDIBLE]? STEPHANIE DELANEY:
Oh, oh, that’s an interesting question. We’re using canvas.net because
it’s set up for these huge numbers, and if you use
canvas.net they’ve got these fabulous instructional designers
and all sorts of support in helping you engage in
the MOOC experience, stuff that we, again, wouldn’t have
had at our institution, so that was really helpful
for us. So to us it was a huge benefit
to use canvas.net. But I suppose if you wanted you
could just use your own institution’s instances
of Canvas. It probably wouldn’t support
those big numbers as well. I think that there’s some
structures in canvas.net that are specially designed to
support the large numbers of students who could be
engaging in a MOOC. Yeah? AUDIENCE: Just to piggyback
on what you just said. We had been wanting to so
something like [INAUDIBLE]. And with the issues we have with
using our own instance is that we’ve got the firewall. We’ve got internet tools for the
university’s credentials. And we are looking at
[INAUDIBLE] and other ways of working around that. But when you think about and
MOOC and you want to [INAUDIBLE] self-enrolling is really
[INAUDIBLE] good for us. When Canvas Network came along,
we were like, woo-who, we don’t have to worry about all
this other stuff anymore. We still have to worry about
it for other things [INAUDIBLE]. But you have to think about what
it is that you’re trying to accomplish if you really
want [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE], we had
to give every student a brown.edu who signed up. They all get an email account. That’s why you [INAUDIBLE]. STEPHANIE DELANEY: So just
a quick summary. Then I might be able to take
one more question. I’m just about out of time. AUDIENCE: How much instructional
design help [INAUDIBLE]? STEPHANIE DELANEY: How much
instructional design help did Canvas give us? We didn’t have a ton. Because like I said, our course
was already done. And so we were just massaging it
and trying to turn it into something that was a MOOC. I really want to be clear. A regular old online course
cannot just sort of become a MOOC by putting it
on canvas.net. There’s stuff you need to think
about pedagogically that makes it different. So we thought about
those things. They asked the right question. They didn’t do the instructional
design work. Instead, they guided us. They asked us the questions. We answer them and
implemented them. But we have the resources
to do that. So I don’t know if we had fewer
resources they would have provided more instructional
design help. They gave me all the
help I asked for, so I felt supported. Thank you guys so much for
coming to my presentation. I hope this was useful. [APPLAUSE]