What Blackboard, Desire2Learn, and Udacity Should Learn from SJSU

Michael Feldstein, Sept 29, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

What the SJSU report tells us, says Feldstein, is that "however different the scaling model is for MOOCs, they are still online courses and have similar success factors." More here.

One of the keys in learning on your own is learning where and how to find help. I can't count the number of times I've tracked down an error message or coding problem in discussion forums or product websites. The same is true of online learning in general. But it takes extra work to do this, so a key factor in how well we learn online is how much effort we put into it. So one key design principle, reports Michael Feldstein, is to encourage this additional engagement. "Basically, if students are falling behind (or failing), they get increasingly insistent messages pushing them to get help. At its heart, it is really that simple." Now it's not simply a matter of getting them to do more.

In a follow-up post Feldstein distinguishes between effort and engagement. "When we talk about a problem with student effort, we tend to ask how we can get students to do more work. When we talk about a problem with student engagement, we tend to ask how we can get students to want to do more work." This changes how we design our program, and impacts outcomes.

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