June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.75.1 - 24.75.24
Can a MOOC Do Project-Based Learning? Encouraging Experimentation and Experiential Learning on a Grand Scale Although they are still new on the educational scene, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)are already the subject of great debate in terms of their educational value, academic rigor, andfinancial sustainability, among other issues. They also take on many different forms in terms oftheir teaching/learning approach, although most focus primarily on straightforward contentdelivery, with their students assessed via traditional online quizzes and exams.In this paper, we will discuss our development and implementation of a MOOC designed toencourage experimentation and experiential learning above content mastery. Our MOOC wasformulated as a multidisciplinary course (engineering, technology, business, liberal arts, socialsciences) using the Coursera platform. It was designed to enable three levels of studentparticipation, which correspond generally to: 1. Students who occasionally interact with the course (“just visiting”); 2. Students who digest the video/reading material and complete the exercises; 3. Students who digest the video/reading material, complete the exercises, and complete a course project.The videos and reading material were developed based on three pillars: Intelligent Fast Failure,Creative Diversity, and CENTER (Character-Excellence-owNership-Tenacity-Entrepreneurship-Relationship). Intelligent Fast Failure focuses on the “rapid prototyping” of ideas, products, andprocesses, while Creative Diversity and CENTER focus on the impact of individual cognitivedifferences and core personal principles on those ideas and outcomes. Building on these pillars,multiple exercises were offered each week, in which MOOC students were given experientialtasks to perform. These tasks were assessed via individual reflection surveys, which were scoredbased on completion rather than performance. Finally, students who participated at the highestlevel of activity were asked to complete a course project (as part of a team or alone). Theseprojects were self-identified and were required only to follow a problem-solving process modelthat included experimentation as one of its major stages. Similar to the course exercises, studentsassessed their own project results via a semi-structured reflection survey, while peers could giveformative feedback if requested. Social media was employed to encourage teamwork.Our paper will explore several key questions: first, to what degree and in what ways did studentsengage in our project-based MOOC? Second, can self-assessment and peer assessment serve asviable tools for students in this context? We will also analyze the extent to which we achievedthe key aim of our course – i.e., encouraging experimentation and experiential learning amongour MOOC students. Lastly, we will consider the overall benefits and challenges or our approachand the potential for blending MOOCs with face-to-face engineering courses.
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