Online Courses are Evolving

Posted on January 10, 2015

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I’ve done some online courses before, and usually finished them. Mostly, I don’t remember them. THey’ve been evolving nicely as the technology improves and the people making them learn.
I *think* one of the first lessons of the providers has been not to get out the most amazing technology unless you only want to have the people with the most amazing technology already mastered in your course.
I’ve dropped out of some courses that were too specific for me — how to make apps with the MIT App Inventor was one. It suffered significantly from the first issue — there were so many times and places I couldn’t play around with things because I needed exactly the right kind of wireless connection. I’m thinking that my “Digital Creativity” course from Adobe will have the same kinds of issues with needing to be on their Cloud Subscription thing… which since their point is to promote that is no surprise…
Of course, the fact is I just don’t have time to take all the fun courses out there. So, the “free code camp” … might go by the boards. It’s a neat model — the online coding software works *pretty* well… and if you’re trying to learn to actually program then yes, you really ought to be one of those people who already has at least some amazing technology mastered — or are willing to figure it out. It also seems that people who know what they’re doing *do* help people out (so people don’t all have to be stackoverflow hazemaster types).
Then there was the developmental math MOOC which, when it had folks hanging around giving support, probably did a moderately awesome job.
I’m thinking I need to take this idea and put it in a notebook and write this up … say, on a plane to D.C. in late January (or on the bus — but come on, weather, clear up! We don’t need no stinkin’ freezing rain! I want to ride my bike!).
First off, I’m thinking it might be worth profiling learners … the ones who expect to be able to learn and accomplish stuff vs. the ones who are already frustrated and confused. There’s sufficient research out there showing that the neurons fire differently depending on our confidence; it’s a little too easy to forget that when we just Go Over The Material One (hundred) More Time and think maybe this time it will sink in. I’m thinking of the desired ‘automaticity’ and that the practice to get there has to be done in a context of … understanding its context.
And the other course is the most exciting — the OER STEM Train the Trainer course that I’m part of a pilot group for. This could be the stuff that really “disrupts” things… could be. We’ll be delving into “open educational resources” and creating and mixing them *and* exploring how to get more people doing that and evaluating and improving them. You know, like back in the old days when scientists and people politely criticized things and improved them? When you went out and said “please, tell me what’s wrong with this!” instead of “no, I have to be the best salesperson — tell me how to disguise any flaws and make them look like features!” Cultivating that community ethos…
Whew! Shelving ’til I’m sitting somewhere …

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