The dust is settling and we are beginning to get a sense of the overall impressions left by the EDCMOOC experience. We’ve been extremely grateful for the time that participants have taken to reflect on the course, in the discussion forums and in their blogs. We’ve also got some feedback via a survey we released a couple of weeks ago, from a range of people – from those who never logged in to those who formally completed the course, and everything in between. We’ll aim to share more details of this survey and its results as soon as we can.
Some very positive news for us is that a large majority (82.8%) of those survey respondents who actively participated in EDCMOOC said that overall their experience was good, very good or excellent.
The following feedback was pulled from blog and forum posts, and doesn’t yet include the survey response feedback. We’ll be continuing to work on drawing this together, but we wanted to get some of this information out as soon as possible.
The feedback we’ve gathered falls into five main categories: connections, content, course design, teaching and assessment.
Content. Those who ‘got’ it were, for the most part, happy with what was on offer and engaged and excited by the topics, discussion questions and resources. We pitched the course at what we felt was an introductory level, and some thought our approach was oversimplified, which highlights one of the primary challenges of developing an open course – there is no way the level can be right for everyone who might sign up. However, even setting this aside, there is still some work to be done to ensure that everyone who participates in the MOOC understands the purpose of the course, and knows what to expect in terms of the content and our approach to the subject area. There were a number of posts in the forum in particular that indicated that the course content wasn’t what some had expected or wanted, and this was reflected in objections to the cultural angle, the theoretical aspects of the course, the lack of practical advice about course design, and so on. We have tried to clarify in the course description what is, and is not, on offer in this course. One of the other main things we want to focus on for next time is better articulating what we see as the vital need for educators and e-learning practitioners to be critical consumers and producers of ‘stories’ about education and technology. This is the key purpose of this course, and we will be working to ensure that these critical perspectives are foregrounded, discussed and debated at every stage of the MOOC.
Connections. The pleasure and excitement of the ‘massive’ was experienced, for most people, alongside a sense that they were making satisfying connections – whether fleeting, or ongoing. Where this didn’t happen, the MOOC sometimes felt disorientating and overwhelming. As one participant put it, “those students who were fortunate enough to make meaningful connections with other students probably gained the most out of the course”. A key message we are getting from this first run is that more people wanted a sense of connection than were able to achieve it. This may be due in part to differences in familiarity with social media spaces (where a lot of the most meaningful connections were made), and to the point at which people began to engage with the MOOC (some started very early – well before the formal course launch date). Next time the MOOC runs, we will seek more ways to support those who want to make meaningful connections (while leaving ample room for groups to self-organise, for cross-fertilisation to take place, and for people to work independently – all of which we think is really important).
Course design. There were a number of aspects of our course design that drew comment. Strengths were seen in the pre-arrival information and encouragement to network; the value of having MSc in Digital Education students as teaching assistants; the flexibility of the course (in terms of content, environments and activities) and the ability to take many different kinds of approach. More mixed feedback came about the timings (a mix of responses about whether 5 week was just right or not enough, and some comments about the suggested workload of 5-7 hours per week being unrealistic); and the ‘massive’ nature of the course (exhilarating vs overwhelming).
Teaching. While some commentators appreciated that the course was designed to foreground the voices of participants, many comments related to a desire to hear more from the MOOC teachers. The desire for more of everything from the teachers – hangouts, structure, guidance, discussion participation – gives a strong indication that MOOC participants need and want teacher presence to be high-profile, ‘in your face’. We’re actively discussing ways we can make our presence more felt in the MOOC.
Assessment. The final assignment – the digital artefact – supported a level of creativity and engagement that was really impressive, both during the preparation period and after submission. For many, the experience of creating their artefact was, in itself, of great value, and others found the peer assessment process challenging and fruitful. There was a sense that participants would have valued some practice with the peer assessment tool, and with creating and giving feedback on artefacts. Some very constructive suggestions were made about the markers’ process of interpreting the artefacts: that the assessment criteria may have rewarded ‘literal’ interpretations of the course material rather than more abstract/adventurous/creative ones; the possibility that a short statement/self-reflection about the artefact (an ‘exegesis’) might help markers engage more with the creator’s intentions; and that finding a way to allow people to set their own learning goals and be assessed on these might be in keeping with the ethos of EDCMOOC. Finally, questions were raised about the scale (0-2), the automated awarding of ‘distinctions’ for combined peer grades over a certain threshold, and the lack of opportunity to respond to peer feedback (a feedback on feedback mechanism). These are all things we are considering carefully, and talking to Coursera about.
In summary, we’re working out how to make EDCMOOC even better next time in response to the feedback participants have shared, and where platform issues arose, we are raising these with Coursera. Thank you very much, again, to all those who participated, and all those who have shared their insights about EDCMOOC.