Not really a MOOC?

I had to change the title of this post after I finished my exploration of the structure and delivery model of the OCW Scholar course I signed up for this fall – Introduction to Psychology by Professor John Gabrieli.  I had been referring to it as a MOOC because I have often seen OCW Scholar included in discussions or blog posts about MOOC’s.  But when I began my drawing of the components and thinking about the learning model, I realized it is really an individual open online course (somehow IOOC isn’t as easy to say as MOOC) Here’s a link to the draft drawing OCWScholar Model

OCW Scholar features a slightly souped-up model of OpenCourseware. It seems to be the traditional university delivery model in terms of components but it is completely self-directed. There is no teacher (aside from the association with the Professor’s lecture videos) or specific start or end dates. You sign up and you progress at your own speed. You can participate in an online study group but it is unmoderated and, at least for this course, very sparsely (?) populated.

For each chapter or unit you are provided with an outline that includes:

  • Reading suggestions (from pay4text or “open” online option)
  • Lecture Videos
    • View online or download
    • View Full Video (50 min generally), or by Chapter
    • Additional video resources (clips removed for copyright)
  • Lecture Slides (pdf format)
  • Options for further studies – animations, videos, web resources or study materials from textbook (paid text)

One criticism I had:  although the course appears to be free, it was difficult (for me at least) to participate without paying for the textbook. The videos are great but the quizzes and exams are based on the text and  as even the Flat World Knowledge “open” option was only available online. As I was traveling and trying to study, this became difficult. I could have paid to have it printed (at a reasonable price) but I didn’t want to kill that many trees for something I wasn’t planning on keeping as a reference. Perhaps some kind of time-limited, self-destructing (digitally locked) PDF file I could store on a mobile device or my laptop?

There are advantages to having a fixed start and end date – you can provide an unmoderated online discussion space and facilitate peer-2-peer learning more easily.

Amazing to have access to all these resources but I still found it more like self-study materials rather than an actual course (from my expectation of what a course should be).


About Cloudsyl

Now a mid-Island observer of the Cloud
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