Friday, May 24, 2013

MOOC - Maximizing Outreach to Outsider Communities?

emory | When Coursera first began partnering with top universities to bring MOOCs (massive open online courses) to a worldwide audience, the enrollment numbers created a shockwave.

Suddenly, tens of thousands of students were signing up to take a single online class, recalls Kimbi Hagen, one of Emory's early pioneers in the free, not-for-credit online experiment.

Now that Hagen, who is assistant professor in the department of behavioral sciences and health education at Rollins School of Public Health and assistant director of Emory's Center for AIDS Research, has just completed teaching one of Emory's first three MOOCs through Coursera, she realizes those enrollment numbers don't tell the whole story.

Of the 18,600 students from 174 countries who initially enrolled in her nine-week Coursera class on AIDS, some 10,601 actively participated, keeping up with online discussion forums, essays and quizzes. Untold numbers also signed up to simply audit the course material.

But through the personal stories that began filtering back, Hagen realized that her course had a far greater reach than she expected.

The class drew a range of participants, from health professionals and educators to college students and the curious.

One student, who had adopted four HIV-positive children, took the course to "learn to be the best parent and support person possible." A high school teacher, alarmed at the number of HIV-positive students at her school, sought "the right information" to share with sexually active adolescents. Another never had the courage to reveal his HIV-positive status to family and co-workers before taking the class.

All told, it was a vibrant, engaged community eager to discuss what they were learning, through online forums and beyond.

"There were many situations where people were gathering to watch (the online course), be it a village in Nigeria or an athletic team here in the U.S.," Hagen recalls.

In fact, it wasn't unusual to hear about efforts to gather an entire village, Peace Corps team or hospital staff to share and discuss her video, says Hagen, who jokes that MOOC could just as easily stand for "Maximizing Outreach to Outsider Communities."

Hagen recalls a Muslim student living in an Islamic country (she prefers to protect the location) who "would watch the videos and go from village to village to share with other women what she'd learned."

Going into the Coursera experiment, Hagen had no idea of its full potential. But observing students embrace the topic and become educators themselves, dispersing their knowledge to others -- for a teacher, she says, it doesn't get much better.

"This is easily one of the most significant things I've ever done in my entire life," Hagen says.

"And it's absolutely what the Rollins School of Public Health exists to do, what public health is really all about." 


Ed Dunn said...

What is being described as MOOC and MOOLOs is how the hacker/technology community been working together since some were phreaking dial tones to get free long distant calls (l0pht crew back at MIT early 1990s). The goal was not a master teacher a subservient student but providing information that can be tested, validated and distributed by those that receive the information and spread the knowledge throughout the network.

This is why I predicted that as much as people want to crack jokes about University of Phoenix, that institution may be the most disruptive force to the American education system as the "alumni" are learning to start talking to each other about knowledge and doing research and share that information with each other. They are also capable of distributing information as this was their discipline to learn. What traditional school in America has that kind of capability?!

Look at Africa and how their GDP is growing rapidly, especially in the technology sector - technologists including me and my people are training and sharing information with entrepreneurs in Africa who want to learn, who ask questions and we show them how to do it. Not only the people in Africa do it, they show each other and all of the top minds I know in the world is in Africa spreading education in the similar fashion and we are watching that information manifest itself throughout Africa. China is the same way with their investment - showing Africans how to run manufacturing instead of just "working them" like the Western countries would do. That instructional information is being spread rapidly through east, west, south and parts of central Africa.

Among my crew, I stated before on my blog - we all have an innovation center in our abode and we can collaboratively share information, validation information and package and disseminate information worldwide. As we share information, we identify who take the information and run with it and like Professor Xavier, we hunt them down as we found out who are the real change agents doing something that we can target with more information and instruction to teach others.

So yes, we are here in America forcing kids to be "superman" and know everything and have to take a test on that knowledge. How are our kids going to compete with "my kids" who we are providing instructions on how to create and operate a natural fruit stand in Nicaragua to running a "Sears" showroom/mail order catalog store in the Philippines? Our kids are sharing that information and that is the disruptive force that will manifest itself when American kids start turning 14 and realize the rest of the world is collaborative while the American kids have to still prepare for standardized testing.

Tom said...

Cosign, only I would take it back further, to the huge population who taught themselves how to program when PCs were new. Academic "computer science" programs were at best a shaky after-the-fact accreditation system, not the means by which competence was produced.

By contrast, traditional engineering education -- absolutely including the traditional MIT approach which I've watched aghast as a TA -- involves a few students who understand the material, and a lot of high-potential kids giving up and practicing monkey-style rote learning from "bibles" of past tests and homeworks. Replicating that process online & worldwide is very far from worthless -- but it's not going to address the very wide gap between how self-taught programmers learn to make siht work, and how students copy "what he's looking for" off of last year's paper.

Tom said...

Sure I did. Of course. I've never looked at grades when hiring people, it's useless.

My concern about "cheating" in MOOLCTs ("Mulcts") is simply that I worry they're going to amplify whatever domination grade-oriented system-gamers are currently gaining through the ooh-ooh-Professor-I-know-the-answer system.

Tom said...

The bottom-line takeaway here is the A-HA! moment at which more folks decide FUCK "what he's looking for",

Sure! I'm just skeptical of the new system too. Revolutions frequently leave us even worse off than before.

CNu said...

So help me out then man, is your positional baseline that this is working?

That status quo higher-ed even remains functionally relevant? - and if so - how?

Need we even discuss this pervasive level of the game here?

I'm writing to you from the inside looking out and contending that the status quo is sooooo irretrievably broken and orthogonal to primary social/economic/technological/evolutionary currents - that it has to come tumbling down quick, fast, and in a hurry.

Further, I contend that its long overdue collapse needs to leave a lot of immovable and arrogant collateral damage in its wake because the laziness, self-servingness, and arrogance of the accrediting "what he's looking for" class is directly and continuously culpable for the FAP.

Tom said...

I think you know my position man. We have a system with a bunch of serious known problems, sure.

We have a revolution with unknown consequences. Seems like you're a pretty easy sell on teh benign nature of those consequences.

Seems to me you're sufficiently pissed off at the existing system that you want it to collapse for its sins. Which it probably deserves ethically speaking, but that may not leave us better off.

CNu said...

Lol, sum'n not right with the notion(s) of CNu being:

A.) An easy sell
B.) Pissed off

Indifferent to the fate of FAP detritus....,

Phukkem...., they had zero regard for their constituents and deserve whatever merciless comeuppance GAWD has in store for apostate tapeworms.

rembom said...

It's one thing to be running away from somewhere, it's quite another to be running toward somewhere. It seems CNu may be doing a bit of both. Lose the running away bit, and I think you've got something.

rembom said...

Ol' CNu been pissed off since I've known him, something over 30 years. Now trying to persuade himself that any "collateral" damage...that may turn out to be a bit exuberant at just part of the constructive process. The rationalization can be made, but I expect as the good stuff quickly begins to emerge from execution of the plan forward, it will become easier to leave such "collateral damage" rationalizations behind, and simply revel in being a catalyst to and a part of the new paradigm. Keep vividly focused, mind, body, and soul, on where you're going, dude.

CNu said...

look bruv, I KNOW a whole buncha 350lb "stumpe de boze" (hole fillers) masquerading as teachers and biding their time until they can collect their taxpayer funded pensions. The more of these that get clipped in the first barrage, the better.

As for focus, I don't really have any choice at this juncture. I'm in a definite reentry tube, 5x5 all the way to the ground for better or worse....,

big4don said...

...Nice goatee...

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