Thursday, 13 February 2014

#eMOOCs2014 #FutureLearn new stats & findings #MOOC

There were many interesting sessions during the second eMOOC summit which took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. And I am eagerly awaiting extra content to be disseminated so I can add my notes to it and share it for it has been a great couple of days. At the bottom of this post you can see the 28 minute talk given by Simon Nelson from FutureLearn, who shared new data coming from the FutureLearn platform. FutureLearn is a MOOC platform launched only 6 months ago in collaboration with the Open University of the UK and many other fabulous partners. Donald Clark also adds some good thoughts on FutureLearn (plus and minus').

Listing my notes:

Notes from Simon Nelson’s speech
(No tie, grey suit, warm very well paced voice)
Nice parallel to the polarized debate on the downfall of HigherEd due to MOOCs with similar debates when television came and took over radio (or so was said), and fears and wonders when Lumière brothers first brought their film footage to the cinema's. 
Focusing on opportunities of MOOC is important, but the arrival of the internet was the real change, and MOOC are just the start of new opportunities that arise. “transform the future, without destroying the status quo”. [notes from me: I agree that opportunities need to be the focus, but I would like to see that these opportunities are immediately linked to ‘improvement’ and effectively attracting or embracing vulnerable learners e.g]. And after hearing Andrew Ng, Simon and others, I do believe there is a sincere willingness in some of the xMOOC drivers to embrace education for all, but work needs to be done to really change our society and lift everyone with education.

Simon mentions it is only natural that the first MOOC’ers were and are tech rich, educated people, because they did learned about MOOC due to their background and interest.
Demands partnerships with other MOOC organizers to change the debate, share benefits and dispel some of current negativity. Simon focuses on ‘attracting new audiences’.

MOOCs are seen by Simon as a starting point for online learning, emphasizing need for increased social learning. A quarter of the FutureLearn course visits comes from mobile devices. Quick iterations with immediate software updates are possible

Some characteristics of FutureLearn are shared
Telling stories
Rich media storytelling/narrations, learning from more traditional media (e.g. television, documentaries…). It is the shared event provided by MOOCs which result in shared meaning. As an example Simon refers to a course that is accompanied with a murder mystery to keep learners interested throughout the course.
Emphasis on open and intuitive learning, not necessarily content as solely being part of full curricula, also making parts of the course searchable and retrievable on the web.

Provoking conversations
Here Simon shows current elements of FutureLearn (e.g. conversational threads, peer reviews that are engaging (response within 12 hours max)
Social learning (25% of learners take part in social learning FutureLearn options): direct learning from others, knowledge sharing, vicarious learning (learner is aware of learning activity of others), implicit learning (learner engages with others to develop shared representation), conversational learning (learner engages in sustained dialogue with others), orchestrated collaboration (e.g. group work leading towards shared understanding), shared knowledge building (with dialogue and interaction with others at its core), zone of proximal development (learner learns through interaction and conversation with a more knowledgeable other – one of my favorite concepts).

Celebrating progress
Every learner is valuable no matter how long or short they engage with the learner. So FutureLearn tries to find ways to reward every interaction. Making participation a goal in itself.

The registrations of students are soon going to overtake the registrations from the Open University students (there are of course differences in registration goals).
Stats coming from the first 8 courses from FutureLearn: Starting from those registered learners that actually did view at least one step of the course, Simon shares the following stats:
86% are ‘active learners’ of the learners have marked steps as ‘complete’
54% are returning learners (learners that marked steps as complete in more than one week)
15% fully participating learners (marked majority of steps as complete + including all assessments)
34% of learners was engaged in social learning activities like those stated above.