Category Archives: MOOCs

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Can MOOCs Help Professors Teach Traditional Courses More Efficiently?

Using free online materials such as massive open online courses in traditional classes can help colleges teach more efficiently without harming students, according to a long-awaited report from Ithaka S+R, an education-technology nonprofit group, and the University System of Maryland.

However, the report notes practical barriers that might make it difficult for professors to incorporate MOOCs or similar materials into their classes without incurring other costs. Those costs might limit any gains…

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U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement

[Updated (7/8/2014, 2:53 p.m.) with news of a post on the controversy by the MOOC instructor.]

The University of Zurich says it has cleared up the bizarre case of the MOOC that went missing. But the university is offering few clarifying details to the public, which has been left to piece together theories from the university’s statements and from cryptic tweets by the course’s professor about an unspecified experiment he might have been trying to conduct.

As I reported this morning, the content …

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In a MOOC Mystery, a Course Suddenly Vanishes

[Update (7/8/2014, 2:47 p.m.): See a new post on this topic: "U. of Zurich Says Professor Deleted MOOC to Raise Student Engagement."]

A massive open online course on making sense of massive open online courses caused massive confusion when the course content was suddenly deleted and the professor started writing cryptic things on Twitter.

The MOOC, called “Teaching Goes Massive: New Skills Required,” was taught by Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a lecturer at the University of Zurich. Offered through C…

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5 Things Researchers Have Discovered About MOOCs

In December 2013 a group of academics gathered during a Texas snowstorm and began the second phase of a discussion about massive open online courses. They were not terribly impressed by the hype the courses had received in the popular media, and they had set out to create a better body of literature about MOOCs—albeit a less sensational one.

The MOOC Research Initiative, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had given many of those academics research grants to study what was going on in…

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Online Upstart’s Goal: MOOC Lectures That Go Viral

Donald J. Boudreaux’s five-minute video lecture on the evolution of human prosperity—complete with slick animation, studio lighting, and killer graphics—looks seamless. Making it, he says, was anything but.

“It was hard,” says Mr. Boudreaux, an economics professor at George Mason University. “There were a lot of takes.”

In all, he spent two full days filming the four lectures that compose his new course, “Everyday Economics.” The result—produced by a professional film studio in San Francis…

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Google Will Finance Carnegie Mellon’s MOOC Research

Carnegie Mellon University’s receiving a grant to study MOOCs is no surprise. But the source’s identity is bound to raise eyebrows.

Google announced on Tuesday that it would give Carnegie Mellon $300,000 in each of the next two years through the Google Focused Research Award program. Google can fund the research for a third year at the same price if it chooses.

The university’s research will focus on “data driven” approaches to research on massive open online courses, including “techniqu…

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Study of MOOCs Suggests Dropping the Label ‘Dropout’

Way back in 1978, Frenchy in Grease was unceremoniously dubbed a beauty-school dropout. But what if she took a MOOC today on midcentury follicular art? Might we call her a beauty-school “collector”? What about a beauty-school “bystander”?

Maybe, thanks to a new quantitative study of MOOC engagement released on Wednesday by Cornell and Stanford Universities. After tracking the behavior patterns of more than 300,000 students enrolled in Stanford-based Coursera courses, the authors created a “ta…

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Coursera Chief: Reach of Teaching Will Define Great Universities

In October 1993, in his first major speech as president of Yale University, Richard C. Levin talked about the importance of Yale’s becoming a “world university.” Great universities have a responsibility to drive global change, he said, and they achieve that primarily by nurturing future leaders and world-changing research inside their walled gardens.

This spring, after two decades at the helm of Yale, Mr. Levin took a job as chief executive of Coursera, the online-education company. His views on…

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Will MOOCs Undermine Top Business Schools, or Help Them?

Massive open online courses are not currently cannibalizing tuition-based programs at top business schools, according to an enthusiastic report from the University of Pennsylvania. Rather, MOOCs could become a recruiting tool for tapping new pools of potential students.

Business schools that offer MOOCs should also figure out how to charge the many students who sign up for the online courses without intending to complete them, write the authors of the report.

The report looks at data and survey …

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QuickWire: Harvard and MIT Release Scrubbed MOOC Data

“De-identified” records of more than a million people who took part in the first year of massive open online courses offered by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been released to researchers, the two institutions said on Friday.

The institutions said the records had been “subjected to a careful process of de-identification: removing personally identifiable information, using best practices including aggregation, anonymization via random identifiers, and blurri…