Laurie Harrison and Will Heikoop
Last week we held a UofT MOOC community “round table” with several of our instructors, educational technology professionals and academic leaders who have been involved in the process. It was inspiring to hear faculty insights and discussion as to how the offering of the MOOCs has had a broader impact on pedagogical innovation. A significant portion of our conversation was focused on how the experience has influenced their current teaching practice at UofT and how MOOC materials can and are being reused in our degree courses.
As many of you will know, MOOC content is generally delivered in weekly modules that cover a specific topic or theme. These topics are commonly introduced through a series of short video “lecturettes” (5 – 15 minutes in length) interspersed with in-video quizzes. As well, each video segment is commonly bracketed with short quizzes used for formative assessment. The student is able to work through these videos at his or her own pace and can check their understanding of the content with the quizzes, in addition to discussion boards and help pages. Between the design, set up, capture and editing of these materials, considerable effort goes into development of the digital content needed to offer a MOOC.
Not surprisingly, the discussion turned to how this material is being reused and how easy or difficult is it to reuse the content. Several instructors shared how they have successfully used their MOOC video content in the inverted or “flipped” classroom. In the inverted class model the contact hours with students is not reduced, but rather enhanced with the MOOC resources such as video lectures and quizzes that students review prior to class.
- One instructor commented on how it was an efficient use of class time that worked well for all involved. Having students view the lecture material outside of class meeting time allowed for more time to be dedicated to case work and project work when meeting face-to-face. In this way, students were able to more fully engage with and apply the concepts from the lessons.
- Several instructors observed that, having had time to digest the lecture material outside of class meeting time, students and instructors alike had to work harder to apply the material during in-class time.
- Although all involved found the inverted classroom model more challenging, instructors benefitted by seeing where students were experiencing problems and students were able to clarify misconceptions. Some early evidence shows a linkage to improvement in final grades.
Broadly, students responded well to the video content and and also benefited from the increased application of concepts in the various courses that adopted the inverted classroom model.
And what about the workload placed on instructors? They found that after having the initial growing pains of creating and producing the video content, slight edits could be made to the MOOC content to support adoption for integration into inverted course design. With minor ongoing updates it can be used again for a range of purposes.
Stay tuned as we continue to research our MOOC activity and extending our understanding of the new ways in which our MOOC experience can influence teaching and learning at UofT. For further description of UofT’s MOOC instructor perspective see the recent UOfT Magazine Article: Screen Time – Online courses are big, bold and potentially game-changing for higher education.