The Most Thorough Description (to date) of University Experience with MOOC

Phil Hill, Feb 21, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I thought we have been pretty thorough with our own accounts of MOOCs (Rita Kop alone generated more description of our MOOCs than anything else I've seen) so I'm not willing to cede the title of "most thorough description" to this 21-page report(PDF). Too often pundits south of the border don't look north of the border before awarding attributions of 'first' or 'most' or 'best'. It seems to be a national characteristic.

But my point here is to offer a counter-example to the model described in this report, because some of the numbers are astonishing. "Over 600 hours of effort were required to build and deliver the course, including more than 420 hours of effort by the instructor." And "Nearly 22 gigabytes of data files were created in connection with the course, including over 11 hours of video for the 8 week course. More than 1000 files were created including 97 'final' videos published to the Coursera course site (12 videos per week, plus a promotional video for the launch page)."

You'd think no resources existed anywhere on Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach before this course was launched. But there are some 296,000 results in Google on bioelectricity. I looked through a few and while some are clearly off topic, the bulk of them are useful resources that could support an open online course. And I've said this before: the model of open online learning where you hire professors or other experts to build bespoke content is not sustainable. It's much more sustainable - and much more educational - to have the learning community source and where necessary create the learning content.

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