Monthly Archives: June 2013

MOOCs and educational development: Part 6

This is the sixth and final post in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses).  My previous posts were largely about my personal experience learning in a MOOC. I think MOOCs offer excellent learning opportunities for people in developing countries, whether or not they are students in higher education. I’ve written up some tips that may help learners make the most of MOOCs. In this post I’d like to present some opinions, from a developing-country perspective, on the implications of MOOCs for higher education.

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In my previous posts I wrote about my experience learning in a 3-month free MOOC in biostatistics offered by edX. During the days on which final exam had to be taken, the discussion forum was locked to prevent students from discussing the questions or posting answers. After the deadline to take the final exam passed, the discussion forum was opened again. Whereas during the course most of the posts had naturally been about the course material, after the exam the posts were on different themes. Many were desperate pleas from students who had missed the cut-off passing score (85%). They lamented how they had put in so many hours working on the course over 3 months only to fail the exam. To add to the unpleasantness, there were harsh replies from some students who … Continue reading

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Key themes from the eLearning in Africa conference

I recently attended the eLearning in Africa conference in Windhoek, Namibia to meet with others active in my field and hear about some of the new developments taking place.  The event was host to some very interesting people and presentations. I particularly enjoyed the closing debate with Dr Adele Botha’s illustrations of African innovations which have ensured sustainability — such as repairing and using old cell phones (the very early Nokia versions, known as “bricks”) and housing a community computer in a drum for protection from the weather. There were a number of themes that caught my eye, particularly given the recent ‘Moocs and educational development’ series of blogs by Ravi Murugesan. In his previous post (part 4), Ravi mentioned “separate” learners who prefer to rely on authoritative sources of information and “connected” learners who like to learn from discussions with others. Presenters at the conference  generally concluded that learning is stronger … Continue reading

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). My previous posts focused on the content of a 12-week MOOC in biostatistics, which I completed this January. In this post I’ll discuss the interaction in the course. Every week, students in the MOOC were given a series of video lectures to watch (see my part 2 post for more details). Each lecture video was on a web page by itself, and under the video was a discussion forum. Students could make posts here. Then the problem set for that week had to be completed, usually a mix of fill-in-the-blanks and multiple-choice questions. The problem set occupied a few web pages, again with a discussion forum in each page. The course content was on the whole brilliant, but how could the instructors take and respond to questions on so many forums from the 37,000+ … Continue reading

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