Tag Archives: MOOCs

MOOCs and educational development: Part 6
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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
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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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MOOCs and educational development: Part 4
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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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MOOCs and educational development: Part 3
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This is the third in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In my previous post I wrote about my first few weeks learning in a biostatistics MOOC offered by edX/HarvardX. In this post I will focus on Internet bandwidth, given that the MOOC I took — and MOOCs in general — rely heavily on instructional videos. After settling into the course, I reflected on how fortunate I was to be taking the course and have access to captivating instructional videos that I could watch using different options (described in my previous post). It was like being in the driver’s seat of a good car: you are in control and you enjoy the ride. But the quality of the ride depends on the road. So it is with online videos and bandwidth. Good bandwidth and stable Internet connections cannot be taken for granted in developing countries. INASP … Continue reading

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 2
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This is the second in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). Early in 2012, MIT announced its first MOOC. This was about electrical circuits. My academic background is in electrical engineering, so I was inspired to sign up and take a look. The first lecture was a lesson in humility. I realized I knew very little in spite of having a master’s degree in the discipline. I worked as a traditional engineer only for a few months after my studies and many years had passed since then, so I consoled myself after dropping out. It was MIT material, after all. Maybe there would be a more suitable MOOC for me later on. In October 2012, I came across a tweet about an edX course in biostatistics and epidemiology, offered by Harvard University. The full title of the course was “PH207x Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods … Continue reading

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MOOCs and educational development: Part 1
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This is the first in a series of blog posts on MOOCs (massive open online courses). In 2012, MOOCs gained so much prominence that they were written about in The Economist and The New York Times. Looking at what MOOCs potentially offer, it’s easy to see why they have taken the world of education by storm: MOOCs are free. (At least this is true for the vast majority of MOOCs now.) MOOCs are taught by real professors from top universities. The short videos used in MOOCs are said to be inspired by TED talks. They’re not anything like the videos of classroom lectures that have existed for quite some time. A 40-minute lecture can be boring even when you’re sitting in the classroom. Record that and you might get something that no-one would want to see! But the videos in many MOOCs are made only for those MOOCs. They’re not byproducts of classroom … Continue reading

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