Canvas Network: MOOCs for everyone – teachers, students and parents

Canvas Network, a learning management system founded in 2008, joined the MOOC race in November 2012 to offer several university-level MOOCs. Canvas Network is developed by Instructure which partners with several educational institutions worldwide. It gives freedom to institutions to design courses. It stated, “Canvas allows institutions to define the structure of their courses and the approach to teaching that makes the most sense to them.” It offers more than 80 courses for free for anyone who has the passion to learn.

canvas mooc logoIn August 2014, it introduced 15 new K-12 MOOCs among which two were Minecraft MOOCs  which allow teachers to automatically sync in-game actions with grades and assignments in Canvas. It aims to leverage ramification’s best practices in classroom with a release of Minecraft App for Canvas. Melissa Loble, senior director of Canvas Network at Instructure, said, “Through Minecraft and other engaging forums, we want to help teachers and students come together to advance education everywhere.”

Deviating from the regular MOOCs for students  and teachers in K-20 education, Canvas has also launched a MOOC for parents. The first of its kind is “Parenting in the Digital Age”.

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iversity: Relaunching itself as a MOOC provider in Europe

iversity is a new online platform for MOOCs. Based in Berlin, it was founded by Jonas Liepmann and Hannes Klopper, as a student project in 2008. After securing the EXIST-grant from the government of Germany in 2011,  it began offering online courses  mid 2013. The aim of iversity is nothing but to make higher education accessible, personalized and affordable.

iversity logoUnlike other MOOC providers, iversity will not create any courses itself. Rather it will function as platform for universities and individual professors to offer course content. Currently it offers about 28 courses (as of October 2014) in a wide spectrum of topics including philosophy, physics, architecture and economics. Interestingly, it attracted more than 500,000 signups within four months of its first MOOCs made available last year.

iveristy aims to become the leading MOOC platform in Europe. It business model includes certification fees for students, licensing fees from universities and recruiting fees from business employers.

Image source: iversity.org

FutureLearn: The UK-led MOOC Provider

futurelearn logoLaunched in September 2013, FutureLearn is a private company wholly owned by The Open University, UK. Though, it was started just a year ago, it attracted over 1.4 million signups for its courses. Its online course on ‘Exploring English: Language and Culture’ by the British Council attracted 121,965 people.As of October 2014, it offers 133 online courses for free with the help of 40 global partners and 266 educators. FutureLearn claims that given high rate of collaborative learning leads to high completion rate of 22% which is twice more than general MOOC completion rate.

futurelearn principleThe first UK-led MOOC provider was named the ‘Startup of the Year’ by the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) which recognizes excellence in  British digital creativity for the last 30 years. BIMA credited FutureLearn’s rapid growth for its modern product design and innovative software development techniques. FutureLearn’s unique approach is weaving storytelling into its courses. It strongly believes in the principles of effective learning through storytelling, visible learning, community-supported learning, and massive-scale social learning. It has a community of learners over 600,000 from 190 countries.

Learners can obtain certificates of participation or attainment for a fee. The statement of attainment requires successful completion of an individuated exam. It is a good way to showcase one’s commitment to learn and/or enhancing career path as a way of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Image Source: FutureLearn

Udemy: ‘The Academy of You’

udemy logois an online platform started in 2010 by Eren Bali together with Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani. As a platform, it encourages professors to design and deliver online courses either for fee or free, as per professors’ choice. According to Dennis Yang, the CEO of Udemy, “Udemy is an open marketplace that targets lifelong learners who want to pick up new skills  to get ahead at work”.

As of October 2014, Udemy claims that it serves more than 4 million students with more than 20,000 courses on self-paced learning. It offers, in multiple languages, a large number of courses in the fields of technology, business and design. It aims to “help anyone learn anything online”, as stated in its website. Its self-paced learning allows students to take courses according to their convenience – taking course on their own time either online or offline (downloadable courses available) and on any device.

Udemy by numbers

Committed to expanding access to quality education as well as positive social change, it offers a helping hand to non-profit organizations to create a public course, to train internal team and to offer Udemy’s online courses. It even offers a small fund called ‘social innovation fund’ to get started with technical tools needed. It also offers its courses for download for offline use.

If you have a non-profit organization and have a creative idea for a positive social change, it may be a good idea to try Udemy, as it offers to social grants every month.

Image Source: Udemy

novoEd : Learn, Collaborate and Innovate

novoEd is yet another Stanford’s University’s contribution to MOOC. It was founded jointly in 2012 under the name ‘Venture Lab’ by Prof. Amin Saberi, Director of Social Algorithms Lab at Stanford and Farnaz Ronaghi, research student at Stanford. It is now renamed as novoEd, to offer MOOCs with a difference. It offers online courses for free like other MOOC providers. It offers several courses from creativity to entrepreneurship through partner institutions. The courses are offered to both on-campus students at Stanford as well as to general public.

novoEd-logonovoEd’s creative idea is breaking up of a large number of students into smaller groups of 4 to 10 per group. Groups are formed as they sign up for novoEd’s online courses,  based on their location, interests and background. They are encouraged to reform new groups once they are introduced to dynamics of course content and structure, to engage in collaborative, project and team-baed learning so as to improve on the common MOOC problem of attrition rates.  NovoEd believes that these smaller group formations will enhance learning experience by making students accountable to peers and to commit to their online learning goals. It is also believed that it will develop social skills in students  such as virtual team management, negation skills in a team, understand one’s role and contribution to group learning, leadership and communication skills.

It will be very interesting to try one of its courses online and collaborate with smaller group on a specific project. I plan to try one in the near future.

Image source: novoEd

edX: Non-profit and open source platform for MOOCs

edX is a nonprofit consortium founded by MIT and Harvard in May 2012, offering university-level courses. ‘Circuits and Electronics’ (6.002x) was the first MOOC developed by edX and led by Prof. Anant Agarwal, the  CEO of edX and his team to more than 155,000. The online courses contain video lectures, interactive problems, assignments, online labs and discussion forums. It offers certificate of accomplishment for those who complete successfully the course and also a  verified certificate of achievement for a fee. Many of its courses are designed by top universities like MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and many others. Currently it provides more than 300 courses in wide range of topics including biology, chemistry, computer science, finance, engineering, to mention a few. Its typical MOOCs can be from 8 weeks to semester long.

edX-logo2edX aims to achieve three main goals: (i) to expand education for everyone, (ii) to enhance teaching and learning on campus and online, and (ii) to advance teaching and learning through research. It  is not only committed to expanding access to quality online higher education , but also on developing best practices to enhance student experience and improve learning experience. It bases its operation on four core principles: nonprofit, open source platform, collaborative and financially sustainable.

edX has shown keen interest in implementing blended learning by offering its courses to be used in several on-campuses within the US and abroad. Its partnership with several international institutions and organizations enables to reach out many more students in the world. It is different from other MOOC providers from the point of view of being non-profit and operating on open source software platform.

Image source: edX

Coursera: Online courses for anyone free

coursera logo is a for-profit company providing college-level online courses to anyone who has access to internet connection and a passion to learn. It’s a joint venture of Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, two computer science professors of Stanford university. The precursor to starting of Coursera can be linked to the the Machine Learning online course, one of the early Stanford’s xMOOCs in 2011 led by both Ng and Koller, attracting more than 100,000 students across the globe. From its humble beginning, it has grown into a thriving online course provider offering 774 courses in multiple languages in wide variety of subjects patterning with 114 institutions in four continents to more than 9 million students from every country in the the world (as of October, 2014).

Its mission is simple and yet grand: To offer quality education  freely to everyone in the world. Its mission statement proudly declares:

“Coursera is an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

RADIO-COURSERA 05-11-13-Its focused online higher education mission is rooted in four strong pillars of: (i) effectiveness of online learning, (ii) mastery of learning which includes instant feedback on how a student performs before he or she moves to an advances topic in a course, (iii) peer assessments enabling students to evaluate and to provide feedback on each other’s work, and (iv) blended learning by which partner institutions can use its online platform for on-campus students.

Coursera offers most of its courses for free except those ones which are marked for verified certificates and specialization. To obtain a verified certificate, there is a compulsory ‘Signature Track’ enrollment which verifies students’ identity and course completion for a nominal fee of $60 to $90. Though, there is a wide variety of courses offered, it is strong in social sciences, humanities, health and society, education, and biology and life sciences., offering more than 100 courses in each of these subjects.  However, like any other typical online course, it combines lecture videos, interactive quizzes, assignments and peer graded assessments.

Image source: Coursera

MOOC: Udacity – Audacious for you, the student.

moocs providers-julia lawrenceMOOC is catching imagination of everyone in the higher education. A large number of students register for several MOOCs, as there are readily available hundreds of university-style courses for free for anyone who cares to take anytime, and anywhere in the world. But who are the MOOC providers? why do they make courses free? Getting to know MOOC providers will help you to choose your online courses and plan strategies to successfully complete your online courses freely.

I plan to devote a series of posts on MOOC providers highlighting what sparked their origin, what drives their passion and what makes them stand apart in the multitude of online courses. In this post, I would like to begin with the story of Udacity.

Udacity_Logo.svgFounded in 2011, Udacity,  is an outgrowth of Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence course (2011). It has the charming idea of being “audacious for you, the student”, as stated by Sebastian Throne, the co-founder and CEO of the company, and also named the 5th most creative person in business . The other co-founders include David Stavens and Mike Sokolsky. Though it’s a for-profit company supported by venture capital firms like Charles River Venture and Andreessen Horowitz , it has the vision to reach out to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world, to make high quality university-style courses free, and to usher in a new style of pedagogy other than one-way-chalk-and-talk lectures. Its strong mission is equally fascinating, as stated in its web site’s home page: “Our mission is to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective higher education to the world. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and we seek to empower our students to advance their education and careers.”

Prompted by the effectiveness of reaching out to a huge number of students who otherwise would not be reached, Udacity offers courses mainly in  data science, web development, software engineering, and non-tech courses. It combines course materials with coaching and realtime projects in leading tech-companies.  Its nanodegree programs is something to you may want to try out. It has a duration of 6-12 months. You can choose a skill level you want – new to tech, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

However I must caution you that you require to pay fee of about $199/month if you want to receive personal coaching, realtime projects and certificates.

Feel to free to share your experience with me on Udacity’s MOOCs.

Image source: Julia Lawrence

MOOC: Emerging patterns of learners on MOOCs

There are many out there  quick to jump to test waters in MOOCs. But, how well do they fare? What do we know about them? How do we classify learners on MOOC? Is it by their learning styles or learning needs? In this post, I shall attempt to address these questions. Apparently, it looks like that many MOOC providers measure their success rate based, not just on the completion rates of registered participants but more so by number of people viewing content or engaging with content. The recent working papers of MIT  and Harvard,  besides many others, highlight this point.

So, based on the level of engagement level people have with MOOC’s content, they may be classified as lurkers, passive participants, active participants, and drop-ins. In addition to this, Phil Hill provides other terms like completing, auditing, sampling and disengaging. Lurkers are those who sample a few items or observe a few online classes. By and large, this group forms the majority of students in MOOCs.  There is the quiet traditional students who take trouble to watch lecture videos and complete assignments, but shy away from participating in online discussion forums and group activities. They form the passive group. Then, there is the other group of people who would have special interests in certain topics within a given course. They drop in to participate in modules that interest them. They seem to actively participate, but they show no interest in completing the entire course. Finally, we have the active participants, the minority group, but actively get involved in all the activities and make maximum contribution in online discussion forums and group activities.

MOOC-StudentPatternsHowever, people tend to move from one pattern to another. Some people move from being active participant to passive to observer, and a few, vice versa. As reported in the MIT and Harvard working paper, vast majority of passive learners tend to disappear after the first few weeks of browsing through the course content and sampling a few quizzes and discussion forums. Those who are able to meet the demands of MOOCs and withstand all pressures in day-to-day life, tend to engage with MOOCs actively and complete them successfully.

Participating in MOOCs requires high information literacy skills, high motivation, writing skills  and committed to self-learning. They should also be able to seek help from peers and seek resources that will assist them to cope with course demands.

I must hasten to mention that it is not only those who complete successfully benefit from MOOCs, but also those who meet their personal preferences and needs by sampling or participating in select modules that interest them. It is very difficult to say exactly how many people genuinely benefit from MOOCs. Having said that, I must state that those who stay on track to complete MOOCs, do demonstrate their strong self-discipline in self-paced learning, besides gaining knowledge.

Image source: Phil Hill in e-Literate

MOOC: 3 things should know about MOOC participants

We know a lot about MOOC. But we never got to know the information on the people who took MOOCs and how they engaged with the courses. In this post, I highlight three key information as revealed by the MIT and Harvard on the first 17 edX MOOCs. This report is the result of the pain taking efforts of MIT and Harvard to analyze about 20 gigabytes of data per course and interviewing faculty and course teams. It throws more light on the students’ engagement with course content and demographic information. We have come to come to know interesting characteristics of those who take MOOC.

Demographic info
The typical course registrants were young men with an average age of 26 or older with a bachelor’s degree forming (31 percent) almost one third of the total MOOC participants. Another 33 percent completed high-school education. A whopping 72 percent of participants was from countries other than the US.

harvardmitcourses reportAttrition rates
While confirming the earlier information on the attrition rates, it provides a new information on the time window attrition rate on its increment and decrement. It was found that almost 50 percent of people leave the course within the first two weeks of the course, and the next two weeks, it declined to 16 percent.

Engagement with content
While only a small percent of people complete the courses, half of them generally view course content without engaging in any online interaction and discussion forums. Interestingly, more than 4000 registrants participated in multiple MOOCs. A small percent of participants deeply engaged, as the courses progressed.

As this report provides us more data on the attrition rates, demographies and students’ engagement with MOOC content, it also enhances the opportunity to delve deeper into the phenomenon of digital revolution in education and more importantly to further research in student learning. Of course, it will also aid in considering design issues for MOOCs in the future.

 

Image Source: www.edX.org